Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

MockJaw takes on the Austin jazz scene

Courtesy of Spencer O’neal

Between bouncing from Swamp House to Mohawk and making an appearance at Hotel Vegas, the off-kilter band MockJaw earned their first nomination for the Austin Music Awards before the release of their first single, solidifying their spot in the limelight as an up-and-coming jazz-fusion band in Austin.

The quartet arose from connections made in the Butler School of Music and made their debut at Swan Dive last May. Comprised of four members — drummer Collin McCord, pianist Keith Galloway, bassist and producer Tanner Hoyt and guitarist Sloan Hill — the group’s versatility allows them to expand their creative realm, playing anything from jazz-fusion to improvised R&B and math rock.

“The genre changes a lot between sets based off how we feel the crowd is going to be,” said McCord, a jazz drum performance major. “If we’re playing a crowd we feel is going to be more appreciative of some weird stuff, we’re going to play some things we have in our pocket.”

Although, from getting their gear stolen to a guitar blowing up on stage, things haven’t always gone this smoothly. The trials and tribulations have tested their love for each other and the music.

“The beautiful part about the way we operate on stage is that it doesn’t have to stay (the same),” said Hill, an anthropology and French junior. “There’s variables that can shift around, and we’re flexible enough that (we don’t) crash and burn.” 

Their debut single “Something in the Water,” set to release Friday, began from a pentatonic lick accompanied by Hill’s fluid lyrics, which would often change from show to show. Mockjaw at last solidified the song’s lyrics in the studio, alongside four other tracks set to appear on their untitled EP. Their recording process, similar to their writing, remains free-spirited — the band leaves room for the EP to grow, Hill said. 

“We recorded all of those songs in one day and were arranging on our feet, making changes in the moment,” Galloway said.

The band said they felt shocked at the news of their Austin Music Awards nomination for Best Jazz. Hill said they felt surprised to have been nominated alongside seasoned artists like the Grammy-nominated Black Pumas’ JaRon Marshall, especially because the band didn’t have a recorded discography at the time of their nomination.

“It speaks to the fact that at least a few people were really touched by the live performances and made the connection — that’s special to me,” Hill said.

Receiving the prestigious nomination after less than a year as a band, MockJaw continues to pave their way in the Austin jazz scene. Despite their unconventional sound, MockJaw still finds their space in the jazz canon. McCord said MockJaw’s music represents the younger generation of jazz listeners.

“People close to my age love the classics and everything, … (but) they’re able to look past all the weirdness and crazy stuff we’re doing and (say), ‘This is still jazz, and it’s super important to keeping jazz alive in modern society,’” McCord said. “You can continue to innovate while still honoring the tradition.”

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