Q+A: 5 minutes with Jaguar Sun and Husbands
Gazing inwards, musician Jaguar Sun and duo Husbands have sat down and written a rather introspective record, which they have titled ‘First Time Caller’. Released under Born Losers Records, the release of the single marks the beginning of an exciting period for the musicians, who will be touring Canada and the USA later this month, beginning at The Baby G, a live performance venue in Toronto, Ontario. The venues are located across Jaguar Sun and Husbands’ home countries, where they honed their sound and eventually came together to create ‘First Time Caller’, a record wherein sad swells bolster apologetic lyrics, doubling the total emotive resonance of the song. We interview the collaborators, and here is what they had to say:
Stream / Download: ‘First Time Caller’
Set the tone for us. Why the arts?
Jaguar Sun: This shouldn’t be that hard to answer but it is! I feel like I have a million answers in my head ranging from ‘the arts are just cool’ to ‘it’s really incredible and fulfilling being able to create something that people can connect with and find comfort in’ to it just being the thing that I feel like I’m here to do. Maybe they’re all the right answers.
Husbands: Before Husbands was a “real band”, it was a creative outlet for us (Danny and Wil) to write and record music because that’s what we loved to do. While our aspirations and ambitions have grown for the project, making music together remains the core foundation of the band and will always be the most important thing to us, because it’s a part of our being.
Which comes first when you’re producing – the sound or the idea?
Jaguar Sun: The sound for sure. I think every song I’ve written resulted from me playing around on the guitar and my pedals until a chord progression or lick stuck, and then I formed the idea around that. I always struggle to go into writing music with a concrete idea. I just need to mess around until something hits, and then I keep pushing it from there.
Husbands: For us, the songwriting process changes all the time. It really goes in phases. Early on, we’d start songs by singing along to an acoustic guitar and built ideas around these melodic nuggets, recorded on our iPhones. Eventually, we developed our “sound” and started writing songs based on that sound and filled in the words and melodies afterward. Lately, we’ve taken a more philosophical/mood-board type approach, where we think about texture or feeling or spirit we want to evoke before even picking up an instrument or writing a word, and then we write a song from that headspace. Keeping the process fresh keeps the music fresh.
Does your material feature any collaborations?
Jaguar Sun: Totally. In the past, I released a collaborative EP with my good friend Jesse Maranger, and this new release First Time Caller is a really cool collaboration between the band Husbands and me! I’ve done so much of my writing and producing solo that I’d previously been fairly closed off to collaborations. It’s hard to go from that individual mindset to opening up to others and their workflows, but more and more I’ve found that really special and beautiful ideas form from those collaborative projects. A unique set of eyes and ears on a track can add a lot of spice. I’m excited to do more!
Husbands: We wrote a song with Jaguar Sun, a band we’d been fans of for a long time now. We have an upcoming NE tour with them and during the planning of that, we started talking about how it’d be cool to do a song together before hitting the road. It was a really great creative experience, and we’re definitely open to exploring the idea of more collaborations in the future.
What’s on your current playlist?
Jaguar Sun: I’ve been listening to a lot of really cool artists lately: Day Wave, Sea Lemon, Work Wife, JW Francis, Far Caspian, TOLEDO, Hovvdy, Alex G, fanclubwallet, PUP, Kyle Craft, Glitter Party, Livers, Oscar Lang, Claud, A Beacon School, and Golden Daze to name a few. I’m always feeling inspired by so many people!
Husbands: We’re constantly updating the playlist, but a sample of what we’re currently spinning is “Yesterday” by Swim Mountain, “Last of the Loving” by Coco, “I Don’t Know” by Sjowgren, “be free.” by NEIL FRANCES, “minutia” by Spilly Cave. Here‘s an actual playlist!
Tell us about the chemistry you have with your fans on stage.
Jaguar Sun: To be honest I’m still working on it. Playing live is so new to me that I’m still stuck in “stare at the floor, too nervous to speak” mode most of the time. I’m making progress though. Every show, I’ve been getting a little more comfy up there. Maybe I should just lean into shoegaze more and then I’ll be right at home staring at the ground! At the end of the day, I don’t even remotely consider myself a performer or at least an expressive one, but I’m going to keep doing my best.
Husbands: We tend to be really conversational on stage. While we’re big fans of bands with mystique, we’re not really made for that kind of performance. We just like to be on the level, and for our shows to feel like you’re hanging out at a party with your friends because we really feel that way on stage.
What techniques do you experiment with to get your original sound?
Jaguar Sun: I think being self-taught on most instruments I play, minus the piano, has almost helped me create something original. That’s the only thing I can boil it down to. At least when you’re learning something that way, it can be limiting sometimes. But even more, I feel like you end up doing things a little differently and the results can be pretty unique. I’m just doing things the way that feels most natural, and if it sounds original in some way I’m really glad!
Husbands: We’ve had tape machines for a long time, but lately we’ve really been diving into that analog tape world. It forces you to focus a little more on coming up with something cool before recording because you’re committing it to actual tape (vs the ease of digital recording). As far as the “Husbands” sound goes, I think we’re always pretty melody/harmony focused (Beach Boys type thing) so we tend to love throwing a ton of doubles and triples on all the vocals.
Take us through a day in the recording studio.
Jaguar Sun: I record everything from home so a day of recording is pretty laid back. It usually starts with me making some coffee, messing around on the guitar, and when something sticks I just keep pushing the idea as far as I can. Take a break and sit on the balcony, come back and work on the bass, take a break and go for a walk, come back and start on the keys and synth, and so on. It’s kind of become essential to me that I can just record on my own time whenever it feels right. I love that that’s possible, recording from home even with a minimal setup like mine. Sometimes I’m just sitting there, watching Youtube videos late at night, and out of nowhere a little spark of inspiration hits, and I can jump over to my desk and start recording.
Husbands: Wake up, brew a cup of coffee (peppermint mocha creamer), sit down at the desk, open Ableton on the computer, open the DM1 app (drum machine) on my iPhone, make some basic beat on the app, record it, play some synth or guitar chords over that, scat some vocal melodies over that, listen to if any of that is worthwhile, and re-record/re-write everything focusing on the cool parts of the original project, and build from there.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you thought, “this is what I want to do”?
Jaguar Sun: I’ve always been interested in music my whole life, but I didn’t start recording music until college. I was studying graphic design, but it was in that time period that I finally got some gear to record and put the instruments I’d been learning through life together, and I think that’s where it clicked. Whether or not it was pursuing music as a career or just a passion project, I knew I wasn’t going to stop creating it. There’s something so satisfying about seeing your musical ideas come together and there’s no feeling like having a track click and listening back to it for the first time. As soon as my first EP started getting some traction, I was fully invested though. I quit my design job and went back to part-time support work so I could keep pushing it.
Husbands: Listening to Blink-182 and Weezer in middle school was a very formative experience for me (and tons of other kids our age at the time). Everyone was starting Pop-Punk bands. I guess the difference with us is that we never got over the middle-school adolescent magic feeling of being in bands and writing songs.
What do you keep close by while you’re playing a set?
Jaguar Sun: My set list. I’d forget the order of the songs in a heartbeat if I didn’t have it.
Husbands: A can of PBR and a bottle of water on the floor by the monitors and a setlist written in sharpie on highlighter neon note cards. At this point, we’ve been playing our set long enough that we know the good spots where we have time to take a swig of beer.
Any emerging artists on your radar?
Husbands: We’ll keep it local to OKC because we have plenty of friends in bands we love: Chelsea Days, Mad Honey, Love Seats, cursetheknife, Audio Book Club, to name a few; all great. The OKC scene is young, healthy, and growing.
What gets your creative juices flowing?
Jaguar Sun: Listening to music is always enough to get me excited. There are so many people creating really unique and cool music out there right now. I’m always inspired by what’s going on. If I’m ever in a creative slump or out of steam, coming across cool new music usually helps me bounce back and get creative again. That or being out in nature, going up north in Ontario, or even just going for a walk. It really helps get me in a healthy mindset, at least.
Husbands: Caffeine, listening to other people’s music (especially other people’s demos). Walking through a city where there are tons of people is also inspiring to me for some reason… It makes me want to go home and make something to connect with them, somehow. Also, sitting on the beach under a palm tree with a pen and a notebook.
Take us through your collection of gear, tech or software that accompanies your creative expression.
Jaguar Sun: My collection is pretty minimal actually: my go-to guitar has been my Airline 59 2PT. I’ve got my old Yamaha acoustic that I’ve been using pretty heavily in recordings lately. I have my pedal board that has some gems like the Empress Zoia and Source Audio Collider that cover all my atmospheric needs, and then I record and mix it all using Native Instruments Maschine as my DAW. On top of that, I use an Audio-Technica AT2020 to record vocals and a Sure SM57 to record the acoustic stuff. For the rest, I generally use Native Instruments plugins for like synth, bass, and drum stuff. Keeping things minimal has almost helped keep the creative process quick and fluid. I have no extra options but to use what I have and make the absolute most of it. Although I have to say, if I had the money, I’d almost certainly splurge on a bunch of new and extra gear.
Husbands: I have an old crate amp that has a really unique “ratty” sound that we’ve used for Husbands’ stuff since day 1. I like to record with 635A microphone for guitars, Shure SM7B for vox, and run it through the preamps in the Tascam 388, BAE 1073 preamp, WA76 compressor, Distressor, Apollo x4, Ableton.
Any side projects you’re working on?
Jaguar Sun: No side projects right now but it’s always been a dream to make grungy garage rock/punk music on the side. If my schedule ever frees up enough, I’m making it happen.
Husbands: I’ve been trying to do a jokey album of old-time country tunes (like Sons of the Pioneers/Marty Robbins type stuff) for a long time now, but, for the most part, we’re pretty focused on Husbands.
How have you refined your craft since you entered the industry?
Jaguar Sun: I’ve refined it through trial and error really. Just trying a bunch of stuff and recording a bunch of music until I’m happy with the sound and the direction I’m going. There’s so much to learn with each project you release. I used to suck at mixing, for example. I had no clue what I was doing (and I still don’t really), but just reflecting on older releases has helped me push myself in that area. As much as I like to avoid listening to my old stuff, once you have some space from it you can really dig in and figure out where you could have done better and where you can make those changes on the next release. Then it’s just trial and error again to make those changes happen.
Husbands: We’ve learned a ton by working with various mixers and producers over the years (specifically Chad Copelin at Blackwatch studios). One day with Chad was a legitimately life-changing experience in terms of opening our minds to a process and workflow that we could actually emulate and try to achieve ourselves at our home studios.
Break down the news for us: what can we expect from you this year?
Jaguar Sun: I’m always working on new music. Expect many more releases to come and expect many more live shows as well. One of the biggest goals of 2022 was getting the live band together, and we’re ready to make 2023 a big one. We’re all super excited to get out there and hit the road.
Husbands: A lot of touring and hopefully a lot of new music. We’re always writing new stuff, and now we have some management behind us to keep us on a bit of a schedule. It’s nice!
Famous last words?
Jaguar Sun: I tried.
Husbands: Hmm… Huzz LP4 will be out Spring of ’23. We’ll see if it happens.
Jaguar Sun X Husbands Tour Dates:
Sep16 – Toronto, ON, Canada – The Baby G
Sep 17 – Buffalo, NY, US – Mohawk Place
Sep 18 – Washington, DC, US – DC9 Nightclub
Sep 19 – New York (NYC), NY, US – Mercury Lounge
Sep 20 – Boston, MA, US – Red Room, Cafe 939, Berklee College of Music
Sep 21- Philadelphia, PA, US – Ortlieb’s
Sep 22 – Lakewood, OH, US – Mahall’s
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Image credit: Chris Minielly and Aldo Dera