Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, musician and producer John Jagos is the creative mastermind behind the acclaimed chillwave/synth pop, JOVM mainstay act Brothertiger. And with Brothertiger, Jagos has released four full-length albums and a handful of EPs featuring brooding and introspective material, Tears for Fears cover album and Fundamentals, a four-volume series of livestreamed improvisations.
Jagos’ self-titled fifth album was co-produced with longtime collaborator Jon Markson. Slated for a November 4, 2022 release through Satanic Panic Recordings the self-titled album reportedly sees Jagos moving through his chillwave roots and into the refined glitz of sophistipop, a British micro genre made famous in the 80s and 90s by the likes of Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry, Prefab Sprout, Scritti Politti and others. Jagos’ take on the style though is pure escapism — immaculate, lushly produced and engineered, retro-leaning songs meant for romantic vagabonds and urbane daydreamers alike.
Typically, the self-titled album is reserved for an artist’s debut effort. But for Jaogs, the album serves as an introduction to a playful and escapist new era for him that can trace its origins back to the early days of the pandemic: Like a lot of artistic city-dwellers, the Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstay was restless. That changed after he scoured eBay for vintage gear, impulsively snagging some some sophisitpop-era synths and samplers manufactured by Ensoniq, a now-defunct company.
Armed with this new gear and a completely new sonic palette, Jagos wrote, recorded and released “Dancer on the Water,” a lush and cinematic track centered around glistening synths and bursts of pan flute. Initially released as a standalone single last spring, both longtime fans and new fans were smitten by the song’s unselfconscious optimism and its throwback, feel-good energy. “I was like, I want to make music like this for a while and see what happens,” Jagos explains.
What happened next was that new songs spilled out of the JOVM mainstay with an unexpected ease. “I felt more connected to my songwriting than I’ve ever felt before,” Jagos recalls. That self-synchronicity was infectious, leading to productive sessions with some unexpected collaborators including Covet‘s Yvette Young and Underoath‘s Spencer Chamberlain.
But Jagos was also conscious about leaving space for kitsch and absurdity, often embracing the inherent cheesiness of the album’s slick influence. “Trying to be less serious about the music business is a big theme,” Jagos explains. “I’m not trying to conform to the specific ideals the algorithm machine wants me to be a part of; I’m just trying to make music that sounds good.
The self-titled album’s latest single “Be True” is slick, hook-driven bop built around glistening synth arpeggios, pan flute and a sinuous bass line that manages to subtly recall 90s R&B and Avalon-era Roxy Music — but with a longing, escapist vibe.
“I had this syllabic rhythm in my head for months and I felt like I needed to make a song around it,” the Ohio-born, Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstay says of the song’s origins. “It had this specific ‘90s RnB’ vibe to it which I loved. That evolved into the mantra of the song, and from there, I just built around it. Then Jon came in and we added specks of detail all over. I love how heavy it became.”
The accompanying video features cinematic footage shot in some of the world’s most gorgeous and breathtaking places — and it happens to link up nicely with the song’s lyrics.