|unleash the beast
Dean Van Nguyen - February 5, 2014
Drawing from a more ambient corner of throwback synthpop than many of his contemporaries, John Jagos may wrap his melodies in layer upon layer of ethereal textures, but they’re unmistakably present. The Ohio University alumni member possesses an ear for a hook combined with a knack of interlacing his electronic instrumentation in a lush but never overpowering manner. Having forged his style over a number of EPs and last year’s debut full-length Golden Years, the prolific Jagos has investigated new territories on recently released Future Splendors, describing the album as emphasizing “more futuristic themes”.
You transitioned from Monoteque to Brothertiger a few years back. What was the reason for the change and what do you see as being the differences between the two projects?
Monoteque was something I started in high school something that I was really just using as a front to show my music to my friends. I changed to Brothertiger once I felt my songs were good enough to move past my circle of friends and into the blogosphere. I also felt that I was getting much better at production, so I think the transition meant that I was taking things more seriously. Monoteque had more of an electro-folk vibe, while Brothertiger is more of a synth-wave style of sound.
I see you credited Brian Eno and M83 as influences. Was there anyone or anything else that initially got you interested in making synth-based music?
Around the time I started making music as Brothertiger was when I really got into The Talking Heads, specifically Stop Making Sense. The synth work on that record really influenced the way I write because it showed me the potential for different synths in live music. I guess I write music with a live show in mind, so I’m always thinking about how the song can be played at a show and all the different things that can be done. The same thing goes for Prince, Genesis, Vangelis, etc.
Tell me about the new record Future Splendors. How was the process compared to previous records?
Future Splendorsheads in a bit of a different direction as opposed to the earlier stuff. For one, I didn’t really want to emphasize the lo-fi sound as much as I have before. I’ve been reading a lot of science fiction novels, so this record emphasizes more futuristic themes. The process wasn’t too different. I recorded a good part of it in my home studio, but I had a friend of mine – who’s also a mixing engineer – mix the record for me and run it through tape and back out, so there was definitely more experimenting in production.
Can you describe to me the creation of “In Mind”? Why did you feel like it was a good choice for a single?
“In Mind” was a demo that I had made right after I put out Golden Years. I worked on it for a while, then I sort of forgot about it for a few months. When I started coming up with a concept for the new record, I rediscovered the track and I knew that it’d be perfect as the single for the sound of the record. I really think it emphasizes the feel and overall themes that the new record expresses.
On stage you play with Jon Markson and Mike Feld. What do those guys bring to your live shows and how did you all get together?
For one, both Jon and Mike are amazing musicians, so I feel really lucky to be able to have them involved. We also just got Andrew Oedel on board playing guitar, so there’s a really good dynamic going now with the live show. Jon is my roommate in Brooklyn, and I met Mike and Andrew through friends here. I've always been a bit wary of playing in bands, which is one reason why I was a one-man band for so long. But with these guys I feel completely comfortable and excited to play at every show. It’s a lot of fun and there’s definitely more energy.