Georgia Ellery and Taylor Skye are Jockstrap. The duo from London are currently preparing to release their as-yet-untitled mini album, which will be shared to coincide with an appearance at Iceland Airwaves festival in November. They don’t have much material available; there was ‘I want another affair’, a video of pleasing oddness that served a surreal tune of end-of-the-pier organ sounds, and a set of lyrics that crept in like a dream that won’t leave you alone. Now though we have ‘Hayley’, another track that explores the darker aspects of the human psyche, with a visual treatment that continues the unique vision of the band.
‘Hayley’ is a track that details a brooding kind of violence that we know is never far from the surface. The lyrics start in a soft place, but soon become suffocating. The instrumentation has the quasi-grandeur of a child’s synthesizer set on ‘orchestra’, or some-such programming. The vocal performance is delicate, soothing, and as beautiful as it is unnerving. The narrative shares the details of psycho-sexual transactions, and the things that some people are grateful to settle upon. It is dark, and yet it shines, somehow.
The video, directed by Georgia Ellery, preserves the tone well. The lighting is purposefully unglamorous; unforgiving. The light bleaches nothing, but there’s an unsettling hygiene to the white balance. The jovial opening shows a dancing cowboy with a jaunty gun tucked into his belt. Whoops, there it is again – the threat of violence. The narrative of the video doesn’t synch perfectly with the narrative of the song – but the story is the same. Things unravel; what threatens darkness becomes darker. What threatens conflict explodes fully. We can’t outline the details without spoiling the surprise, but the slow, simmering pace of the piece is enthralling, unusual, good.
From the suggestive world view of Jockstrap it’s clear to get a sense of their trajectory. They’re the kind of artists who refuse to play the typical game. There’s no aspiration, apparently, to enter the mainstream or to meet with convention. Terms are set in their own dialect, creation occurs when it suits, and the execution of things is better realized, uncompromised and organically original. Some commercialism will be required of them – so a home on the deeply good Kaya Kaya Records is heartening. There’s plenty going on in here, and much is promised for the future. In the meantime – watch your ears.
PHOTOGRAPH BY HOLLY WHITAKER