Meet The Artists: Jockstrap
“I’m not sure London has a [specific] sound,” Taylor Skye tells NME when asked to sum up the capital’s music scene. But that’s just fine for Skye and his Jockstrap bandmate Georgia Ellery – because neither do they. The duo formed in 2016 while studying at London’s prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama. They dropped a string of captivating, evocative and experimental EPs before the release of their debut album, ‘I Love You Jennifer B’, in September 2022.
“All of the songs I wrote were based on the formative experiences I had in London, [having] moved away from home,” says singer and musician Ellery, who grew up in the coastal Cornish town of Penzance. “I wouldn’t be making music like this if I stayed at home.” Producer Skye, whose teenage years were spent in Market Harborough in Leicestershire, adds: “We were exposed to so much stuff in London.” Surrounded by classmates at Guildhall who were doing “exciting, interesting things”, as well as the blossoming South London music scene, Ellery says the creativity was infectious. “I started writing songs because I was inspired by other people”.
That’s not to say Jockstrap simply want to fit in, though. Their music explores everything from dreamy indie to orchestral pop and happy disco. They reel off an eclectic list of influences – Skrillex, Madonna and Cocteau Twins – while speaking to NME at Super Symmetry Studios in East London. While Ellery clarifies that all of their songs are different, the duo’s reworked take on their single ‘Concrete Over Water’, which features on ‘Bose x NME: C23’, still serves as the ideal introduction to the band. “It’s weird,” says Skye with a grin, “but you’ve got to start somewhere.”
‘Concrete Over Water’ was the first song Jockstrap finished for ‘I Love You Jennifer B’ and “the one that made the most sense to us,” says Ellery. Full of London glamour, the track is “a wistful, romantic song about standing on London Bridge at night with a friend”. The reworked ‘Bose x NME: C23’ version sets Ellery’s vocals against a new piano melody that, she says, “gives it new meaning”.
Like everything Jockstrap do, the process of remixing their own track was “very instinctual” according to Skye. “We don’t make much surplus material and I spend so much time working on each song that my ears get tired,” he says. “I need something else to make it fun.”
On Jockstrap’s future ambitions, Ellery says: “Because I don’t think we make mainstream music, I automatically see a glass ceiling on it. But I’d like to prove myself wrong. It’s already gone further than I thought it would actually, so that’s great.”
Jockstrap later take NME to the scene of one of their greatest victories so far, London’s Village Underground. The pair sold out the 700-capacity venue back in October and the show was “fucking wild,” says Ellery. “We have one song that goes off,” says Skye, referring to their glitching club banger ‘50/50’. Such moments have reminded the band that music can change people’s lives. “When we get a reaction like that playing live, it feels like what you’re supposed to be doing,” says Ellery. “And we want more of that.” Jockstrap’s debut album was released on Rough Trade and made many AOTY lists.
There’s already talk of Jockstrap making “more accessible music” in the future, but there’s no firm idea of how that will materialise. “In no way do we try and make complicated music, which is funny because a lot of it is,” Skye says. “We like pop but we need it to do what it does for us first.”
Ellery adds: “When we write, we’re thinking about what we like and what we have an emotional response to. We don’t think about the audience much: it just so happens that they like what we do. We put lots of care into everything we put out, though, so hopefully that’s the correct formula.”
When they first formed Jockstrap, Skye and Ellery sought a creative outlet and a career in music “without having to compromise”. Having stuck to their guns, Jockstrap released one of 2022’s best debut albums and are now about to embark on a sell-out headline tour before a busy festival season this summer. “It’s been a nice upwards trajectory – and may the trajectory be exponential,” Ellery says, before Skye adds: “We were born for it, really.”
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