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Interview: Jaggers x Lines Lift The Lid On Their Debut Album ‘Burn Cycle’

Interview: Jaggers x Lines Lift The Lid On Their Debut Album ‘Burn Cycle’

Friday 5th October, 2018 2:41PM

Dunedin electro-pop duo Jaggers x Lines have gone from strength to strength since 2017's Letters EP, releasing a commanding run of singles, supporting such huge names as Tash Sultana, and scoring a slot on the bill for this year's Going Global Presents artist showcase. The team of Morgan Simile (Jaggers) and Eliana Gray (Lines) have now unleashed their much-teased debut album Burn Cycle, and are playing shows to celebrate at Auckland's Portland House this Saturday with Randa and Being., and at Dunedin's Captain Cook on Friday 12th October. Jaggers x Lines have made today even more special by generously providing commentary on each track on the album, to give listeners insight into what makes their "trip pop" tunes tick. Listen to a stream of Burn Cycle here and read their revelatory words below...

Hi Eliana (Lines) here with a small preface to this whole discussion. This is not in anyway meant to be a guide on how to interpret the songs. Art is personal af - both to us and you and however anyone chooses to interpret these songs is up to them (no offensive stuff though please, it’s yuck). But, with that said, come with us on a magical journey as we tell you what the fuck we were thinking. CW: alcoholism, trauma, sexual abuse mention, mental illness, suicidal ideation.

Problem Drinking

Jaggers: Problem Drinking began with a 70s jazzercise record where we extracted vocals of encouragement and construed them as dance floor instructions, then layered with a syncopated low bass and drum pattern. The lead synth brass was added by local producer Person Will.

Lines: Lyrically, this song is me trying to figure out how I felt about my life and managed myself and my feelings as an alcoholic. I no longer use alcohol as a medication and I still don’t have a complete picture of my life back then but writing this was a very important step in filling some bits in, even though I didn't realise it at the time.


Jaggers: This was made with a kind of 90 RnB flavor in mind , then we pushed it into more of an EDM space later in the process.

Lines: This was one of the first songs we made after releasing our EP ‘Letters’ and I think you can really tell both sonically and lyrically. It has much sparser beats than we evolved into by the end of the album process. For me I think one of the coolest things about this song is how it’s meaning changes for me. Originally I had written it about the regular, horrendous nightmares I was having about someone who abused me. Writing it was helpful in clearing some of the horror away from that situation. In this way it’s pretty lyrically transparent. “Hand across my damp mouth. Your shadow in my dreams.” The more I performed the song, the more the horror receded and now I’ve come to a place where I can also look at the song as being about how I feel about the experience of having nightmares, instead of the raw pain of the nightmares themselves. This also contains one of my fav lines of the album: ‘Future always seems to be, something that it’s not, present situation keeps sticking in my throat.’

Looking For

Jaggers: For this we were going for a tropical pop sound. So we used marimbas and synths with a sort of dembow house rhythm for the beat.

Lines: This song really fell out of me and I didn’t truly realise what it was about until months later, which sounds really wanky but that's my truth, sue me. Full disclosure - I grew up in Nelson and used to be a MASSIVE raver. Dreads (on me a white person - no thank you very much bad idea Ellie), psychedelics, the Mayan Tzolkien - the whole package. At stage of my life I was dealing with massive amounts of trauma from sexual abuse that I was very much repressing. As a result of the abuse I had internalised the idea that something was very wrong with me and I attempted to fix this/ myself with lots of psychedelics (not to shit on trips- but spoiler alert- it didn’t go well kids.) It wasn’t until I found a great psychologist that I realised this was what I’d been ‘Looking For’ (lol) with psychedelics that they hadn’t been able to deliver. (It is also important to note that I was taking them very unsafely and in an unsafe environment.) Use drugs wisely and with trustworthy people ya’ll!

All In Your Head

Jaggers: This song started its life with a trap vibe but ended up more hip hop / jazzy. The vocals have a lot of tail delay to give the floaty "in your head" feel.

Lines: This is another slippery snake. Yikes, terrible metaphor aside. This wasn’t even gonna be on the album because I haaaaaated it for ages and, like a true lil shit- once we changed the chorus, it’s one of my favourite songs to perform and it’s on the fuckin album. I can’t remember what the lyrics used to be but they were AWFUL. So takeaway moment: change is great. What a thing to learn.

Scrape The Sky

Jaggers: The instrumental for this was remade a few times. We’ve even got a secret remix that we may or may not ever release. It turned out a lot different than the original, the drums and gritty bass made it more dancefloorable with its staggered drums and sliding sub.

Lines: This is my fav track on the album hands down. The beat is so LARGE. I love dancing to it and performing it and we made a fuckin’ banger and I’m so proud of us. This song is also the most hopeful on the album. It could easily be read as a relationship banger, which it is but- in a very on brand move, it’s about my relationship with grief and death! Always with the subject matter over here. But for real, I lost two friends this year and many more over the course of my life and it SUCKS! And grief is really hard and losing people is the worst, and losing mates to suicide is the worst also. The song is me trying to let a bit of that pain go and look towards a future where I continue to grow with regards to the way I manage grief and help support others through grief and how to hold onto a person in my heart.

Let Me Let You In

Lines: This is straight up a song about existential angst and I’m pretty sure everyone thinks it’s about sex which is 1. Funny and 2. Cool. My angst comes from deep seeded feelings of loneliness and trauma related stuff. What does your angst come from? Comment below!

Hold Me Tighter

Jaggers: This tracks original version was a little quiet and didn't carry the vocals so well. To fix this we added bizarre percussive and melodic synths with added an extra rhythmic dimension, plus some sound like dolphins so… now we make Seapunk?

Lines: This song cracks me up because everything I write is like ‘oooooh sad, trauma, ow, my brain, my feelings, listen to all this stuff no one wants to talk about’ and then it’s ‘ok enough of that- have a tender love song.’ But, because I love difficult things, it’s a love song about holding someone through the difficult parts of a relationship and my love of self sabotage.

Soft Little Lights

Jaggers: This began its life as a big sub kick and some chopped up piano. With a jazzy modern sound we thought we would make it future spacey by adding vocal slices repeating with washy reverts and effects.

Lines: My favourite part of this song is performing it live with Alexandra Selkirk-Hanna (of BEACHWARE, who also provided backing vocals on the single version). Lyrically this could be the title track of the album as it’s exploring my need to continually light my entire life on fire and run away screaming.

Losing My Breath

Jaggers: The opening sample is this song comes from a record that is a commentary on a Football game played between agents of Heaven and Hell, no joke. We then layered on computer generated synths to create an 80’s inspired bassline.

Lines: I love this as the closing track on the album because it’s about me trying, always, desperately to keep healing. Which is what the whole album and also my life is about really so that’s p funky. Because healing is so nonlinear I often find it a very frustrating journey that constantly takes me by surprise. ‘In these same situations I’m losing my breath’. It also speaks about my clawing need for identity (which for me is a part of the healing process). Which is pretty #relatable cause don’t we all just wanna know who we are and wtf is going on? #deepstuff.


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Jaggers X Lines - Album Release Party
Fri 12th Oct 9:00pm
Captain Cook, Dunedin