Toronto’s Jaunt Get the Blues (and Greens) on Their New EP
When Jaunt guitarist Pat O’Brien describes Chat, the Toronto band’s first release, he calls it “very pink.” It’s warm and comfortable and cheery — the laid-back and late-night bedroom pop of two songwriters brought together by a mutual appreciation of Stereolab, Arthur Russell, and R&B from the late ‘90s and early aughts. “Gentle Reminder,” the song that, according to O’Brien, set the template for their sound, contains a rework of Usher’s “U Remind Me” almost like some declaration of intent.
Thinking of the new material the band’s recording, it’s all blues and greens now, O’Brien says. “I don’t have synesthesia or anything, but I definitely associate music with colours. And this time it’s pastel shades of blue; it’s a royal green.” The new EP, set for release this fall, is darker and more muscular, he says. It’s marked by growth: the evolution from a two-man recording project filled out by additional members for the live format to a full five-piece collaborative effort. It adventures into new depths for Jaunt.
“Anytime you come see us,” O’Brien says, “I can almost guarantee you’ll be seeing something new.” The band has a large catalogue of unreleased material that’s its constantly revisiting and revising. During a July show at Toronto’s East Room, it’s that new material that most fully wins the crowd, as the band leans harder into their dance music influences and snaps from surfy reverb rockers into a taut funk ensemble.
Where previously the band relied on a lot of samples, its synths and percussion have become more organic. There are bongos and cabasas, different rhythms. O’Brien’s been on a 1970s Donald Byrd kick, he says — “good jazz fusion,” too — which “is pretty inspiring when it comes to writing percussion.” And there’s a new emphasis on percussion. They’ve been listening to a lot of left-field disco and house, some New Jersey boogie. He mentions a particular track by the L.A. group Klymaxx, which he describes not-pejoratively as “‘80s cheese.” There’s an audible appreciation, team-wide, for Sade and the sophisti-pop and quiet storm aesthetics of that era.
“I like having sounds that aren’t as musical next to melodic things,” he describes. Jaunt has always been interested in that sort of juxtaposition: the familiar and the not. “I just want people to have an interesting time listening to our music.” And this is the new palette they’ve prepared for us.