HAILS FROM: Meanjin/Brisbane, QLD
PLAYS: Solo (as Jaguar Jonze)
SOUNDS LIKE: Smoky, swaggering cowperson-pop
LATEST DROP: 'Little Fires' (single out now via Nettwerk)
What’s your current go-to guitar?
My go-to electric guitar is currently a 2009 Fender American Standard Telecaster with matching headstock in Daphne Blue. It’s in all of our recordings, and for some reason, no matter what effect or amp we put it through, she shines and cuts through with how we envisioned the sound for the song. I’m not one to have a huge collection of electric guitars (money, cough cough) but I knew that if I wanted to step my game up, I was going to have to take a leap on buying something nicer. My fans helped me name her Azul.
All of my songwriting happens on an acoustic guitar that I made from scratch myself. His name is Dingo, and he’s mostly made of everything Queensland. I refused to use CNC lasers for any of the inlays, so I sawed and chiseled everything by hand. I wanted it to be made from the labour of my love, with all of its imperfections. Huge thank you to Hancock Guitars, who are expert luthiers and guided me through my three months of slowly building Dingo. My Martin and Taylor don’t even stack up in sound. Dingo is gorgeous and was named after my half-dingo dog Simba, who was with me the whole time as I built the guitar.
How did you initially fall in love with the instrument?
I got my very first guitar when I was studying Engineering at Melbourne University, and had no interest in pursuing music. My close friend passed away and grief struck me really hard. I was walking home from classes one day and stumbled on a garage sale. This Ibanez acoustic was sitting there and I just had this urge to buy it and learn how to play it – except I never really learned how to play guitar. I started writing songs as a cathartic way to process the emotions, grief and trauma that I found difficult to express verbally.
What inspires you as a player?
I’m self-taught and use guitar as a vehicle for singing, songwriting and expression, so I only ever learn what I need to do at a minimum. In the band and onstage, I am the rhythm guitarist, and I really think how I play as a rhythm guitarist came out of my humble beginnings with the acoustic guitar. But I don’t really know what influences shaped that. Melodically, I think I am so influenced by Western movie soundtracks and how guitar is used so purposefully in arrangements. People always say that I’ve got gunslinging guitar parts in my music, and I think that comes from my cowboy dad who showed me a lot of country and Western music growing up.
Do you have any ‘white whales’?
I’ll take this opportunity to advertise that I have forever wanted a Zvex Fuzz Factory, but refuse to get anything other than the hand-painted Fuzz Factory 7 with the Maneki Neko cat on it.
What would your signature model look like?
Most likely a Fender Telecaster signature model. It needs to be a piece of art that holds attention in a room without force or loudness. She’s classy, minimal, timeless and unique. She has an interesting body reminiscent of the past, but pushing for a future, with subtle changes in shape to accommodate better for all bodies. She has an Australian rosewood or maple fretboard with a 7.25-inch radius, matching headstocks with the body, locking tuners, and P-90 soapbar single-coil pickups in the neck and bridge, with a Bigsby tremolo so we can bend and warp with all our gunslinging, cowperson intent.
She’s made in Japan with Japanese technology and precision – like me! All parts of her must all be sourced sustainably and ethically. She comes in bold colours of yellow, red and black (this might change) with contrasting pickguards and elements reminiscent of the Jaguar Jonze world. The back will have a graphic with a short message from me to remind players what they’re doing this for, and be numbered as a limited edition with each guitar having its own identity.