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Jockstrap Contemplate the Cost Of Perfectionism

The baroque-pop duo discuss balancing industry demands while teetering on the edge of a future classic.

by Quinn Thomas

With their clever brand of glitched-out pop, Jockstrap has quickly become a critically acclaimed two-piece that demands your full attention. A key contributing member of the celebrated UK post rock band, Black Country, New Road, Georgia Ellery effortlessly steps into the limelight as Jockstrap’s radiant frontperson. But no singer is complete without their foil, their partner in crime — their Taylor Skye.

To set the stage and introduce our players, Skye was an avid fan of football as a kid — we’re talking the football you actually play with your foot here — until he discovered UK dubstep and was awarded his first computer. Saying goodbye to the athletic lifestyle, he took a kick at music production. Skye met Ellery in the dorms of London’s Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she was studying jazz. Ellery reached out after having seen one of Skye’s posts on social media, substituting clips of his own music into the revered karaoke scene from Lost in Translation

An artistic bud blossomed. Shortly after they dropped their nocturnal smoke-stained debut EP, Love is the Key to the City, Jockstrap were signed to Warp Records, one of the most prestigious electronic music labels in the world home to acts like Flying Lotus, Aphex Twin, Autechre, and LFO. In June 2020, the pair released a second EP, Wicked City, and by its release they were already hard at work on their debut LP, 2022’s I Love You Jennifer B. A genuine marvel of juxtaposition, the duo’s songwriting and blistering aesthetics work in tandem to well up feelings of future nostalgia.

When we asked Ellery what five words she wishes she could have said to herself during this time of developing their breakthrough project, it would’ve been “have fun, enjoy the process.” This statement is especially potent given the story she shared with RANGE about the album being stolen from under Skye’s nose. 

”Taylor was in a restaurant and he had his MacBook with him and his harddrive. Whole album on it, not backed up. And someone stole his bag. The guy ran out with the laptop and luckily Taylor noticed it wasn’t there and ran after the person who stole it,” she says. “They chased him and he’d run away, and they stopped halfway and Taylor was like, ‘That’s it. My laptop’s gone and the project.’ But then they went a little bit further and realized the guy had dropped the backpack because he was being chased.” 

Neck deep in the creation process and losing all your work almost seemed like a much needed respite from the band’s self inflicted torture of perfectionism. With additional duress from the label pressuring the duo to roll out the album before it was done, the pressure of perfection felt like a dream turned sour, unable to be awoken from. Nothing felt good enough. “It was like the gods telling me that it wasn’t supposed to be,” Ellery says. “And I felt almost nihilistic about the album at that point. I was like, ‘Well, you know, I wouldn’t have cared if it had gone. If I hadn’t been doing it with Taylor, who was like, ‘We’re going forward, it’s happening. It’s good’ Probably there would be nothing to show for it’.”

Throughout the interview it was clear to see that for Ellery, that bittersweet dream of dedicating her life to music is something that has always followed her. The sparks flicker and fade, as the blacksmith pounds away at the double-edged sword that is the life of a full-time artist. “It’s a lot of pressure I put on myself,” she says. “And for a long time, my standards were so high that nothing was good enough. So it was quite difficult to write music at that time because fundamentally everything was just not good enough.” 

With accolades pouring in for their latest, it seems as though the duo’s perfectionist pursuits paid off. It’s rare for an artist to make a classic album. It’s rarer still that it’s their first, and by the time they are 24. Jockstrap have achieved the musician’s dream, but the path was fraught with the nightmare of overcoming themselves. When asked about how she wants to grow as an artist in the next few years, Ellery replies, “I want to go a bit deeper into it. I hope in the next five years I have a clearer understanding of my reasoning for making music and why I’m doing it and how I do it. It’s always just something I’ve done. And sometimes I go through phases where I really intensely listen to music and discover music, and then I go through life and there’s usually like six-month cycles when I can’t even listen to music or I just turn off from it completely”. 

As Ellery plays with her hair, the light bounces from the pitched ceiling with exposed wooden supports to the white walls in her London flat. Adorned with a projector and a mattress on the floor, she delicately speaks about  working through feelings of burnout. Her eyes drift to the right when asked about where she wants to go next.  Coming to terms with the fact that her goals lay inward, Ellery is realizing that she wants to find out why she is the way she is, so maybe she won’t have to be so hard on herself.  So please, for the love of good art, don’t let Georgia’s suffering in the name of perfectionism go in vain and listen to I Love You Jennifer B