Purveyors of r&b twinged deluxe pop music, Jensen Sportag are responsible for some of the sweetest sounds of the summer. Their recent Pure Wet EP and subsequent Wet Mix showcased their exquisite talents and with an album on the way in the fall, 2011 is looking to be the year they come to the fore. We discussed all the big topics, from speed jungle to sleep showering - welcome to the world of Jensen Sportag.

So first up can I put a name to the faces? I'm going to guess that Austin you've got the 'Western' jumper and the longer hair and Elvis you're the one staring at the floor?

Haha. Sorry that guess is incorrect. We'll give you ONE last guess! You got this, and I wasn't staring at the floor. I had sat down my soda and I like to keep an eye on it. oh shit. did I give it away? I'm Austin. :)

Haha - right I've sussed it then, Elvis in the jumper and Austin with the soda. I like to keep an eye on my drinks too - that could be a new genre, sodagaze - the latest incarnation of shoegaze. Anyway, tell me about how you guys know each other, what's the story?

Austin - Haha sodagaze. Brewgaze! Ok well we grew up on neighboring farms in Cottontown TN. Went to the same school. Took lessons from same piano teacher. Swam in the same quarrys. Stole from the same gas stations. Never really hung though cause Elvis was ahead of me in school. He started a skateboard crew with my older bro in high school and was over one day and noticed my boss dr. rhythm and some other crap gear I was using to rip off Drexciya and AFX. Turns out he too had a lil studio quite a bit better than mine and he was doing some funny midi prog jazz and de la soul beats and such. We had some fun in high school taking drugs and going on all night speed jungle improvs. We definitely made lots and lots of off the cuff cassette recordings by scotch taping over the tabs of my dads recorded sermons. We basically recorded a track every time we hung out so we'd have something new to listen to when we drove around the backroads smokin' out most nights. After high school I went off to college for English and Elvis had already gone off for art. We individually continued to record and get better gear and never really lost touch for too long. After college and very quick job burnouts we eventually each moved in Nashville and started it up again but with actual plans this time and much more skill. We know each other very very well by now - such a pathetic familiarity that talking to one another is like talking to ourselves. Sometimes when I'm in the studio late at night by myself i hallucinate peripheral glimpses of Elvis coming fast from behind with an ax to chop me up.

Just to clarify - an all night speed jungle improv? Sounds like fun.

Austin - Oh well it's jungle right? Omni Trio, Goldie, Photek etc. That stuff is usually like 160-180 bpm, so speed is like 200 plus. Hang on....weird it's not a wiki listed subgenre. I know we didn't make that up, maybe it was just djs playing normal jungle records too fast. Well we'd just let the tempo climb for hours. Anyway we were kids living in the middle of nowhere way out in the country, we'd invented time and we couldn't kill it fast enough.

Sandra tells me you guys have been busy working on a memory tapes remix - how's that coming along? How does it work in the studio - Elvis what is your role? Is one of you more involved in certain aspects?

Elvis - Yeah Dan the Memory Tapes remix just went to mastering yesterday. We're really happy with how it came together. Right sound for the season. My role? Well usually the way it works is I'll do loads of musical sketches little loops and play em for Austin to see if he's got any vocal ideas. If we feel like one of em has promise then we'll work on putting down a skeleton arrangement and build from there. He'll usually spend a few sessions doing vocals then we'll trade off with arrangement tweaks and adding/replacing sounds. We kinda mix as we go and once all the music is done we'll sit together and mix it final. On stage I'm the synth guy while Austin is lead vox and drum machine coordinator.

Austin - Precisely! Might I add on a more metaphorical note Elvis' veins are always fully engorged and throbbing with Stevie Wonder's real blood. It's taxing on his little body but when we want a new song he'll just open one up, the blood spills all over the floor and together we'll huddle down and fingerpaint with it for days until it dries.

Just when I feared that this interview was getting a bit serious - a timely interjection Austin, thanks man. It sounds like you've got a good arrangement going on and are very much tuned in to each other musically. Elvis, when Austin was talking about hallucinations of you creeping about with an axe is that actually a hallucination or just you fucking with him?

Elvis - I'm a high-dose sleepwalker and have a history of entering rooms and pointing at things. Sleep showering. Balcony exploration. He probably did see me lurking in the studio shadows with a axe, ready to play Jack Torrance. "I'd never do anything...to HURTCHA."

Austin - I can completely vouch for the sleep showering. There have been nights I've listened to the shower run for an hour until finally working up the courage to investigate. Often he will already be back in bed sleepin like an elf in a shoebox.

Sleep showering? That's impressive Elvis. Have you read any of the cases of sleep walkers murdering people (homicidal somnambulism)? You know you could actually get away with that? This guy in England was cleared of it a few years back?

Austin - You two are scaring the shit out of me right now. Where's my mic?

Elvis - Yeah it's anyone's guess how it works. I don't really like the idea of sleep murdering someone. Seems like something that, if you're going through the trouble of doing, you'd wanna be aware of so you can mean it.

Let's move away from this topic, I don't want to be responsible for any nightmares. Can we talk about the name Jensen Sportag - how did you get from Elvis Craig and Austin Wilkinson to what sounds like a Scandinavian deluxe clothing brand?

Austin - The name....it's a bit of a long and convoluted etymology but I'll try and condense. It's a set of loosely knotted mnemonic phonetic cues that take the form of a fictitious character by that name. And moreover the resulting character then got his long nerdy bio which is frankly just not funny anymore. So really it's a feeling right? And still, like most of our little feelings its densely labored and overwrought. Does that make any sense elvis? I haven't tried to explain it in a while.

Elvis - Yeah that's on target.

Was it the output of one of the all night speed jungle improvs?

Austin - Haha. Nooooo sportag came waaay after that. I think we called ourselves racial purity beatbox back then but it would change every week or so.

So besides the jungle stuff, which you can't really hear in your tunes, what other music has influenced your sound?

Elvis - Yeah I really don't think them old junglisms are too relevant to anything Sportag but who'd deny us a touch of Bukem now and again? You Dan? Honestly this has the potential to be the longest answer in interview history. We've taken a lil influence everywhere from the emptiest dark chambers of Thomas Koner to the swarming flower thickets of World Standard. Some lasting revelations for us have come from Atom TM, Ariel Pink, Vladislav Delay. A typical lunch at Cafe Sportag will include Chickpea Corea on Stevie Wonderbread with Tevin Campbell Soup. Sincerely, man, there could be no end to this list. This only skims the surface.

Austin - Man that menu sounds delicious.

Cheers Elvis - I'd never try and get between you and Bukem. So hypothetically the three of us are designing the music vid for Jackie - talk me through the feel of the video.

Austin - Woah Dan we makin' a video? Dope. Jackie is the whispy barefoot girl running through a sprinkler out front of a trailer down by the creek you pass on your way to the pool with your mama, the Juliet of the Tennessee hills. When you grow up out in the middle of nowhere like we did, come summer nights your lil romantic imagination goes leaping out your open window through the fields as fast as it can to find her. She's your only love because she's the only pretty girl for miles and miles. The arbitrariness of proximity becomes something real and worth forever when you apply your naive teenage passions to it. You'll hold hands and as you touch the moment will become eternity and time will stop and wait for you to reinvent it. You and Jackie steal her daddy's car and drive away pointing it right into a setting sun that sets forever and ever always visible just on the horizon.

I had you down as a sentimentalist Austin. When do we start filming? We doing it in Nashville?

Austin - We go back to where it really happened every summer in Cottontown Wood.

You've put out the Pure Wet EP and the Wet Mix already this year, what's next for you? Is an album on the cards?

Austin - Oh yeah baby. Tell'em E. We just got the best tarot card reading ever. Cascine dreams.

So when do we got to hear the new album?

Austin - Well we just don't know, Dan. We could never put a deadline on an evolutionary thing but it's growing and surprising us every day. We expect it will prance proudly out of the forest, sunning and fluffing it's plumes before too long. Meanwhile look out for another remix or two right very near and ooooo an EXTRA special surprise or two over the next couple months to be sure.

Elvis - Yeah it's hot at work though. Gonna keep our feet on the slick sidewalk we laid down with the EP. Cascine has championed a full grown version and we're harvesting a new crop of cousins aimed at delivering just that. Its sweet sentiment and murderous loyalty. Lots of Bill Evans with self imploding lowpass filters.

Sounds amazing - let us know when it's coming. If it's anything like the EP it will be spot on. Lastly, and most importantly when can I see you live - have you got any UK performances planned?

We also will emerge from the forest just behind our creation and yes most certainly an expo in UK will be among the first. Thanks for the kind words and enthusiasm my friend. Keep your eyes on the Cottontown tree line.


  • Jensen Sportag - Pure Wet EP out now on Cascine
  • Listen: http://soundcloud.com/cascine/sets/jensen-sportag-jareaux-ep/
  • Buy: http://www.junodownload.com/products/pure-wet-ep/1694777-02/