Don Rowe talks to Jupiter Project, a New Zealand electro duo who look as good as they sound, about why fashion and music are inseparable.
Every genre of music has its own subculture and aesthetic, from safety pins through the nose to Eminem do-rags. What does that relationship mean to you guys?
Marty: I think they’re pretty inseparable arts in the way that if you’re putting something out, and it’s the same as writing a song, you’re putting out a feeling into the world and you’re putting out something for other people to see or hear and connect to. That will come in all aspects of what you do. So it resonates with the people that are like you and who like your music and maybe they like the way you dress, or the other way around. Fashion is another way of communicating and expressing yourself.
Gavin: It’s expression. It’s an artform. You can say what you want about yourself by the food you eat, what you wear, what you listen to, what you watch, who you hang out with. It’s deeply rooted in the culture and I think that’s why fashion is so cyclical, just like music. You can take from different periods of time that you’re inspired by and maybe different places in the world.
What sort of looks have inspired you?
Marty: At the risk of sounding played out, I love the ‘90s. I love that period. It’s an awesome time. It was definitely an era of its own making. I guess I borrow a lot from that. Our logo is a play on the 90s smiley face and I’m all about that. The smiley face first started off in the underground scene and was adopted by a small band called Nirvana, and then from there it’s obviously on our phones every day and I think that’s pretty cool. It’s cool the way that it has come across through time.
Gavin: I guess growing up in the ‘90s it was MJ. The glove, the jackets he’d wear, he made the military style very cool. He had the aviation jackets and the sailor jackets and stuff like that, and Prince as well. I like taking things that shouldn’t work and making them come into the mainstream, and it was cool to see that growing up. That’s influenced a lot of artists today.
What are some of the more iconic looks in music history for you personally?
Gavin: It’s all about the period of time, and I think people are quite surprised when they find out we like music from different decades and different genres. I was at home looking at some photos of my parents and my dad and everyone in the ‘70s and ‘80s were so influenced by the later Beatles stuff with the wider pants and the long hair, and to me that’s history. It’s crazy. It really touches people.
Marty: It’s actually kind of a way of stamping a certain period of time, just like music is. You know what music sounds like from the 70s, you know what music from the 90s sounds like, and it’s the same with clothes. If I’m wearing baggy jeans, you know exactly what I’m referencing. It’s a stamp in time and that’s pretty cool.
Have your own looks changed over your life and music career?
Gavin: A lot. We’ve had some moments. A few...faux pas.
Marty: If you do a long enough Google search, which I do not recommend, you’ll see some shit
Gavin: It’s part of the fun though. You have to take risks. Some of those ‘90s artists you look at them and it’s like “...what were you thinking?” but they were having fun and that’s what matters.
Have you found as your career has progressed that you’ve changed your look much? And has there been much of a change in the way that the audience reacts to your music?
Marty: Yeah, I’ve found that for us it was never intentional, we never worked towards a particular style, it wasn’t part of our plan. But I think with the increase in visual mediums like instagram people have much more to associate with visually, and so for us our style has changed in time. But it was kicked off organically. We’ve evolved our style a lot more and we’ve built our own brand in a way, moving towards sports and casual, classy menswear. It’s fun.
Gavin: I’d say it’s an evolution over time. We wear different outfits and different looks depending on our moods and our music. We make a lot of different styles of music and the fashion follows that. I don’t think people should limit themselves and say ‘I’m this’, or ‘I’m that’, because it’s like na, try different outfits, different looks, different fits. Guys need to experiment with different fits and different cuts and it can make a big difference.
It seems like something that people in New Zealand have at times been hesitant to do though. Every time a friend comes back from Melbourne they’ve started wearing crazy hats, or scarves, but not many people here want to take the risks. Is that culture changing?
Gavin: For sure, New Zealanders have a laid-back, understated nature, and I think with the internet and our generation travelling a lot more, we’re getting out of that bubble. We’re taking more risks. And I think it’s paying off. People are embracing the wacky side of fashion, and it’s cool. I like to see people trying new things.
Marty: You can try something different besides black. I love black, but just step out a little bit. Try navy. Baby steps.
How do you decide what to wear on stage?
Gavin: Well you’ve gotta be comfortable. That’s the main thing. A lot of the time on stage we’re running around and so...I remember the last deep hard n funky I was in Timberlands. I’ve played in them before, but they’re big heavy boots. I was running and jumping in these things and I almost bailed, and that might be the last time I try that with the Tims. So we do kind of plan ahead for shows, sometimes we might wear all white or all black, or a lot of colour. It’s a statement and it changes. You want to keep it fresh for your audience as well. Don’t do a lot of the same stuff because that’s boring.
Marty: We discuss our outfits for shows just like all the other elements because it’s an aspect of the performance. We plan our music, we plan the lights, we plan everything including the fashion, and so we do talk about it. We try give that experience.
Gavin: But we’re pretty weirdly in sync too. We’re already kind of thinking along the same lines a lot of the time, and because we’ve been doing it for a while now we kind of know what works and I can read his mind, he can read mine.
Marty: Although it can be bad because we occasionally show up wearing the same thing. Sometimes it’s cool, sometimes it’s kind of cheesy. You gotta be like “I’ve got dibs, I’m wearing the denim jacket”.
Different clothing makes you feel a different way. Do you modulate what you’re wearing in anticipation of what kind of set you want to put on?
Gavin: Absolutely. Suits are an interesting one. We like wearing suits but obviously you have to be careful with them and how you wear them. When we have rocked suits we’ve done it pretty well, and it’s been interesting. You definitely have to fit the vibe of the event.
Marty: You want to be a reflection of the crowds attitude. You don’t want to be at a wet, dirty festival in a suit. You want to be in the right spot and the right mood, really creating that ambiance.
If you were to put together a few Jupiter Project staples to outfit someone who’s maybe about to jump on Tinder, fresh in the dating game, what would you choose?
Gavin: Every guy needs a good, strong denim jacket. It’s durable, it’s versatile, it’s everything you need. If I had to choose one thing, that’s it.
Marty: It’s a tough one. It’s a tough one. I want to say jeans, because it’s true, you need good jeans, but I think any pair of good trousers. It says a lot about you. Well fitting trousers with good shoes. I’m all about my boots at the moment. I love my boots. I got a pair of the William Suede Chelsea Boots, they go with a lot of things and there’s a lot to be said for them. They’re sick boots.
Are we talking rolled trousers?
I’m a rolled up ankle guy - a respectful amount. A very respectful amount. I pair it with a sock but only because I get cold. There’s a little practicality but it’s not ideal.
Do you have aspirations on moving into the design and production side of fashion alongside your other creative work?
Marty: Absolutely. For us we’re definitely noticing that we’re developing a more defined style and a brand or style that people gravitate towards, and so it’s something that we’re building on piece by piece. It’s just bits and pieces right now but we’re growing that into something much more - a bigger collection.
Gavin: We’ve designed our own clothes for a while. We’ve done our own hats, tees, badges, different pieces like distressing our own denim and that sort of things. A few custom shoes. It’s something we’ve done for fun and to wear ourselves but then people have been like ‘Yo, where do you get that? How can I get that?’ and so now it’s about working on making that a reality as well.
Marty: We’ve never really done merch as such, just pieces we’ve done for ourselves and people have kind of just ordered them, asking where they could get them, and so now we make a few extra. Our hats for example, we’ve never really sold them in stores, just sold them through a gmail because we’ve got friends who will wear them and then they’ll spread it by word of mouth. It’s really cool, we sell out of our own stuff in this real grass-roots way.
Want to listen to the music that inspires the guys? Check out their playlist here!