Jockstrap Make Classical Music Sound Trippy as Hell
And we’re premiering their very glittery video for the haunting, intimate track “Charlotte”.
Photo credit: Holly Whitaker
Pursuing a vision can be deranged, exciting, meaningful. It can involve staring at thousands of strangers in the name of art, like Marina Abramovic. Some people lock themselves in rooms and go mental. Others turn to drugs, esoterism, fast food, strange clothes. But look, sometimes you’ve just gotta go for it. That’s how it goes when you’re creating something: pure pursuit of what you want.
For quirky, off-kilter London two piece Jockstrap, that meant getting a 21-piece orchestra on their debut release. Released this November, Love Is The Key To The City is a mini-album of sorts, with its six track length making it almost as long as anything G.O.O.D Music put out this year, and its expansive scope – one that forges a new relationship between classical and PC music – is up there with anything you’re going to be seeing on the year-end lists for the albums proper.
We’ve met up at London’s 180 The Strand to talk more about that, as well as their new video for “Charlotte” (which we’re premiering above). First though, since we’re here and an exhibition is on, we’re gonna head into the dark for an hour or two to experience all the different films on offer, including work from Beyonce and Kendrick fav Kahlil Joseph, among others. We’re on a family outing, too – singer and violinist Georgia Ellery’s mum is here, which I’m initially surprised about. Then again Jockstrap are playing a show tonight and she’s popped down for a visit, so why not bring her along too.
Georgia grew up in Penzance, in Cornwall – hence why her mum has made a bit of a trip out of coming to London. She met the group’s other member, Taylor Skye, who handles the production and is also here today, while studying at Guildhall School of Music and Drama – a prestigious arts institution you might recognise for its famed alumni: people like Tirzah and Mica Levi. Jockstrap are still young though, in the very early stages of their twenties, and the orchestra on Love Is The Key To The City is made up of their coursemates.
Jockstrap first popped off earlier this year with “Hayley” – a sweet and woozy track with synths that make me feel like I’m off my head. It came with a video that references the episode of Weird Weekends where Louis Thereoux goes to a brothel, nodding to the seemingly blatant chemistry he had with a woman working there. Nearly all of Jockstrap’s songs deal with sexual identity in some way. “A lot of people have said there are themes of objectification because of the videos for ‘Hayley’ and ‘Joy’, but I don’t really think it’s that, I think it’s more admiration of beauty,” Georgia tells me, when we’ve emerged from the exhibition.
Pull lyrics from their tracks and you’ll find lines like “Kiss me, fuck me, make love to me” and “I wanna have you again, this time sober”. The former is taken from “Joy”, a track that starts with a string section symphony that’s reminiscent of the blissful parts of Alice in Wonderland before it falls down the rabbit hole, just as Alice did in that film. Because it’s not just string music that’s in Jockstrap’s work. Sonically you can hear several different universes: from early Crystal Castles through the lounge music of Brigitte Bardot and even bits of the King Krule album The Ooz, all combining to make something brand new. It’s true that the best artists take from everywhere and mix everything up to make it their own, and Jockstrap are a perfect example of this. It’s no wonder, really, that they caught the eye of musical polymath Dean Blunt, who brought them in to work on his 2018 release Soul On Fire.
We only spend an hour or two inside the exhibition but it already prompts reason to return. Taylor says he’d like to come back and watch Jonathas de Andrade's O peixe – a film where men slowly caress fish as they die. Georgia, meanwhile, is into the trippy, kinda ketamine-addled Item Falls by Ryan Trecartin (watch above). Have a watch of that, and then go back through Jockstrap’s videos above (which Georgia directs), and perhaps you’ll see something linking all three of these things. Or maybe it’s simply that they’re all pieces of art, by artists, who are doing something unique.
Amazingly, Jockstrap isn’t the only musical thing that Georgia and Taylor are involved in, either. Georgia plays violin in the post-rock band Black Country, New Road, while Taylor is getting ready to release solo music next year. So what’s going to be the focus for the future, then? Taylor explains that Jockstrap is something they do when they meet, before Georgia adds “We put loads of time into it. But we put loads of time into everything.” Really, despite everything else that might be going on, you get the sense that if they spent forever on it, then Jockstrap will be one of those special, highly creative things that keeps on growing.
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