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Taking 5 with Jackie Brown Jr, Sydney’s most fun-loving band

Jackie Brown Jr are one of our favourite local acts, so it was a buzz to hear their brand new EP Over Abroad for the first time today. The release is as fun as they come, a collection of high-energy indie bangers that’ll have you singing out the car window on your way home.

Before they rock the socks off Newtown Festival and a ton of venues across their EP tour, we caught up with singer and saxophonist Maddy – aka Babyshakes aka snorkeldad aka Mama Jackie.

jackie brown jr

As Jackie Brown Jr. release their brand new EP Over Abroad into the world, we caught up with Maddy for the latest.

HAPPY: Hey how’s it going? What have you all been up to lately?

MADDY: Hey! It’s going really well actually. We’ve just been prepping for the tour coming up and the release of our debut EP. So yeah, pretty busy actually!

HAPPY: We’ve been jamming hard on Best Friend, but we understand that it tackles some pretty dark themes… could you tell us a bit about this track?

MADDY: So glad you’ve been enjoying it! Yeah for sure. So I  wrote the track when I was thinking about what it would be like if my best friend died. I’d also been thinking how I’d been promising that we’d watch Alien (we finally did!) and drink wine, but I was being kinda shitty and not making any time. So I guess I just started thinking about the value of friendship, and why it’s important and also why you shouldn’t ever take it for granted.

HAPPY: Was this contrast between sound and lyrical content something you intentionally tried to create? Or did it just emerge naturally?

MADDY: I don’t think so at all… initially it was just the riff (that singalong bit the whole band does). But when we were jamming on the idea the first time all of a sudden Rhyan just kicked into a kind of samba/Caribbean beat and it worked so well and ended up taking the song to this whole other place we just never thought it would end up. I actually remember this particular song being one we wrote up the structure on the whiteboard in our rehearsal space? It took a while to get to the final version and why we had each section.

HAPPY: Best Friend is taken from your upcoming debut EP. could you tell us a bit about it? Do the other songs tackle similar themes?

MADDY: The EP is called Over Abroad and it’s our proudest achievement as a band ever. I would say it doesn’t specifically deal with the same themes, but plays around the same ideas of self and exploration.

We’d like to call it an audio travel log, an exploration of your place in the world, what’s important and who and what we choose to value. If you look at the cover it’s designed like a classic postcard, every song is a homage to a time or place that’s had a huge relevance in my life but also our collective lives and friendships. The title of Over Abroad plays off that idea (overseas, going abroad etc) that we’d had members leave the country a number of times for six to eight month stretches over the past couple years, but we kept writing and kept growing as a band.

HAPPY: Your music is such a unique concoction of sounds… did you originally set out to make this kind of music? Or did it develop over time?

MADDY: If I’m being completely honest, five years ago my original idea was to create a classic soul band (think ’60s revival/Leon Bridges/Aretha Franklin). That definitely DID NOT happen and thank god, because as a band we play off some incredible musical strengths of our members. For instance Rhyan Clapham (aka DOBBY) is our drummer and rapper, and he brings his amazing hip hop influences into the music. We’ve also got Michael on guitar who brings in some really unique musical voicings because of his love of jazz guitar (and skill), Gideon brings those classic indie rock bass lines and Ben brings his sweet sweet RnB guitar lick vibes to the table.

It’s a really interesting mash of genres, and something we’ve been grappling to ‘define’ exactly what it is. It’s a lot – you can find pretty much anything if you listen hard enough. What we definitely know though is that it makes for a bloody good boog.

HAPPY: I wanna talk about your live show, because it’s one of the most high energy sets around. How important is the live aspect of the band to you?

MADDY: 100 percent as a band that’s what we focus on! Even to the point that some of our songs have ‘live’ versions which are different to the recorded version, depending on what works in each situation. We’re so aware that when people go out to see music, they want to have a good time right! It’s a show that you’re giving to people who have taken their time and money to see, and we want to make it worth your while. So yeah, we’ll chuck out percussion, we’ll make you sing a long, and we’re going to try really hard to make you dance. We’re all here to make really fun, good music and we want everyone to enjoy it as much as we do.

HAPPY: Next month you’ll be playing Newtown Festival… are there any other bands playing that day that you’re particularly excited to see?

MADDY: How good is this lineup! So many bands we’re stoked to see – Georgia Mulligan, Georgia June, Pirra, Nooky, Motherfunk! But pretty much all the bands on this lineup – everyone is amazing.

HAPPY: What’s next for Jackie Brown Jr beyond the new EP? Any other exciting plans in the works?

MADDY: We’ll have to wait and see! Next year we’re going to be playing a whole lot more music, writing an album and enjoying what life has to offer.


Catch Jackie Brown Jr. live:

Thurs 8 Nov – Transit Bar, Canberra
Fri 9 Nov – Soundbar, Rosebud West
Sat 10 Nov – The Catfish, Melbourne
Sun 11 Nov – Newtown Festival – Camperdown Memorial Rest Park
Thurs 22 Nov – 5 Church St, Bellingen
Fri 23 Nov – Heya Bar, Brisbane
Fri 7 Dec – The Chippo Hotel, Sydney
Fri 9 Dec – The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle – with White Blanks
Fri 14 Dec – Front Yard Noise, Sydney


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October 26, 2018