Jockstrap: “We’re both here for the ride, wherever it takes us”

Although this eclectic duo have risen from obscurity to boast one of the most highly-praised albums of 2022, Georgia Ellery shares that, to her, Jockstrap will always just be two people making music in their bedrooms.

Although this eclectic duo have risen from obscurity to boast one of the most highly-praised albums of 2022, Georgia Ellery shares that, to her, Jockstrap will always just be two people making music in their bedrooms.

Words: Finlay Holden.
Photos: Eddie Whelan.

In September 2022, five years after Georgia Ellery first asked Taylor Skye to form their weird and wonderful band, London-based duo Jockstrap dropped their highly-anticipated debut LP, ‘I Love You Jennifer B’. Following a series of EP and single releases, their first long-form project knitted a patchwork of thoughts and feelings experienced over the course of three years; uniquely jarring and subtly charming above all, the result was immediately praised and quickly rose to the top of many albums of the year lists.

“That feels really good,” Georgia shares, the joy of her creative output flourishing still very much present. “We kept the music to ourselves for so long, not really showing anyone, and now anyone can hear it. Just seeing how far it’s reached globally… we couldn’t imagine that beforehand; it’s amazing. We’ve somehow become a popular top choice which is great to see.”

Seeing such niche artistry go on to receive widespread acclaim is something to be celebrated, and part of that appeal is Jockstrap’s complete absence of fear when it comes to exploring new territories. Although she would summarise their style as “alternative pop”, and there is certainly a strong melodic draw to their tracks, Georgia is quick to explain that they never try to be just one thing.

“On the album, one of the main features is that we’re constantly trying on different genres,” she elaborates. “It’s very clear when you’re listening to it that we’re not just one thing, but putting us under an alternative pop umbrella… well, it’s a very large umbrella. It’s not rock, it’s not just all dance music – pop is a large category, and we do fit somewhere inside that.”

When it comes down to it, the only true defining characteristic of the group is the combined skillset of Georgia and Taylor. The former succeeds at weaving deft vocal lines and spinning intricate lyrical details; meanwhile, the latter bolsters this bold showing with an equally formidable production backing, which soon becomes a character in its own right.

This intoxicating combination is born from a fusion of two contrasting backgrounds, as the worlds of jazz and electronic collided during time served at London’s coveted Guildhall Music School. From the day he discovered GarageBand, Taylor spent a decade mastering music production on his laptop and his drive to create aligned perfectly with Georgia’s own artistic awakening.

Recalling her roots, she reminisces: “I’d sung growing up in small folk bands, amateur dramatic things, and always felt confident singing. When you don’t study something, there’s more freedom to it. I never had singing lessons, but it was always a great tool. Because I’ve not formally trained, I do run into problems sometimes, and it is what it is; that’s my approach to my voice. It works, and I’m not too precious about it being manipulated.”

“Music can unlock all sorts of emotions when you least expect them”

Georgia Ellery

“Growing up playing the violin, I was always playing other people’s music,” she continues. “The natural progression to do something a bit different was jazz – you get to play the notes that you choose, but it is still someone else’s music, so I was starting to edge away from that and write my own.”

“It only became a possibility when my drive encouraged me to ask Taylor if he wanted to be in a band,” Georgia recalls. “We were definitely very hungry to do something, in music and in London. In college, we were meeting producers, musicians, and songwriters our age for the first time who were all making crazy pop music. It made me quickly realise: wow, I want to be involved. I was inspired.”

Bonding over shared tastes – the pair both continue to rave about early work from the likes of James Blake, Disclosure, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – quickly led to an inherently electronic leaning. “When we spoke about our influences from home, it was clear we were both into dance music too. When [Taylor] put some clips on Facebook, I could hear all the things I loved in what he was making. There was a very immediate draw to work with him.”

From then on, the many worlds of Jockstrap were crafted in various London-based bedrooms; this modern activity might try to simulate the complex studio environment, but no potency was lost here. In fact, ‘I Love You Jennifer B’ specifically is an example of how humble technology can truly be pushed to its limits. “I’m on the fence as to whether it’ll age really badly or like a fine wine,” Georgia admits. “Maybe we can come back to this and have a review discussion in ten years.”

Jumping over boundaries is a dangerous and exciting game, and one that this duo have been at for a while now, but from the moment lead single ‘50/50’ was dropped, it became clear to many that Jockstrap were on their way towards something special. For Georgia, this realisation struck upon hearing the first of this batch of songs, ‘Concrete Over Water’. “It came very naturally, and we knew we were onto something. We used the Beyonce-type beat backing – we both love Beyonce – and that was the return of the big dance energy, going back to the stuff that we’d always loved and initially bonded over.”

When ‘50/50’ followed a few months later as a result of a new melody-driven collaborative approach (“it was the most successful I felt we’d ever been”) and the hits just kept coming, it became clear that a rich sonic tapestry was forming; one that would be hard to match visually. “How could we choose one picture to sum up so many different emotions and parts of ourselves?” Georgia asks. “We wanted to make a statement, just like we chose our name to be a statement. To me, our grey album gives away nothing about the music; you don’t know what to expect, and so you shouldn’t.”

Contained within those monochrome walls is a documentation of several years that she finds it hard to find perspective on just yet, but the key principle driving listeners through it all is feeling. “We’re quite emotional people, and we like it when we can put that into our music and it can make us feel something, or it can give the same feeling that we’re trying to express,” she says. “We’re both here for the ride, wherever it takes us.”

One of the many reactions evoked is one of pure surprise, and these ten tracks refuse to settle into any predictable pattern, much to the listener’s delight and, indeed, the group’s own. “The bits I always connect to are the things that knock me off guard and catch me when I’m ready to feel something,” Georgia considers, adding that, “that’s what I love about what [Taylor] does, and about music in general. You’re connected to it, and it can unlock all sorts of emotions when you least expect them. When we’re making music, we all strive to create those moments. The people who are listening… I think they get it too.”

Accessible but potent, melodic and appealing but also an ambitious whirlwind, hard-hitting and yet bizarrely charming; it’s hard to put a finger on what exactly it is about this record and group that’s managed to capture the world’s attention.

“We’re doing this because we love music and making music, and we want to say what we want to say via music,” Georgia concludes. “To me, it’s just me and Taylor making music.” Perhaps it’s just as simple as that. ■

Taken from the March 2023 edition of Dork. Jockstrap’s album ‘I Love You Jennifer B’ is out now; they tour the UK from 7th February.

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