New Dunedin electro pop duo Jaggers X Lines have recently released their debut EP ‘Letters’. Eliana Gray (27) and Morgan Smillie (35) met in Dunedin and despite coming from very different musical backgrounds decided to make music together.
“I was really involved in theatre and musical theatre as a child and lots of choirs and speech and drama,” Gray recalls, “[Morgan’s] background really comes from DJ-ing and he’s an incredible DJ.”
Smillie has also recently completed a Bachelor of Music degree at Otago University.
“The name that Morgan produces under when he is producing stuff by himself is Ridge Jaggers – that comes from the name for the grooves on a record. I sort of think of [Jaggers X Lines] as personas because he’s Jaggers and I’m Lines – I write the words and he makes the music.
“We made the single, I Tried, and we were both super happy with it and were like, ‘Yes, this is what we want to sound like!’ And then from there we recorded the rest of the EP in like two weeks.”
Gray started songwriting after getting some confidence while away travelling.
“In Vietnam, I wrote my first song . . . That gave me a lot of confidence . . . Then I was in Thailand and I ended up singing in this band in this bar a couple of nights, and that gave me a bit more confidence.”
She also plays in Dunedin duo Terrified and indie folk group Certainty, but Jaggers X Lines is the first band of the more electronic genre Gray has been involved in. Electronic music is more familiar to Morgan as he primarily DJs and produces music. He’s collaborated with the likes of Kolyde, The H3rd, and Hazardous Dukes.
Their debut EP ‘Letters’ is predominantly improvised. The sounds of Portishead, Marika Hackman, and Billie Eilish influenced their alternative electro pop direction. Sharp underlying textures and rhythms created by Smillie are contrasted by Gray’s dreamy vocals.
“Lyrics are one of the most important parts of music to me and I love them,” Gray contemplates. “All of my lyrics are deeply personal, like I don’t really write anything that’s not about my life and what I’ve experienced, because I use music and poetry as a way to process.
“I wrote all of the lyrics as we were making the track. We work incredibly fast and it is so satisfying. I can just go and record it at Morgan’s house.”
Expect more music from Jaggers X Lines later this year with a nationwide summer tour already being planned.