Dropping by San Diego at the halfway point of his largest headline tour, I had an exclusive interview in the Voodoo Room at the House of Blues with Jaguar Sun (Chris Minielly) on behalf of KCR College Radio. He discusses THE SUPER U Tour, his creative process, inspirations, and what’s next for the band in the future.

To someone who hasn’t heard of your music before, how would you describe yourself and the music you make?

“I guess my name is Chris and I produce music under the name Jaguar Sun.”

“It kind of started as just a bedroom pop project and it sort of still is, like I record and write everything at home in my little bedroom studio. And it’s very dreamy, atmospheric layered dream pop music. But it delves into folky elements and rock elements and all sorts of little random sprinkles of stuff but the core is dream pop music, I’d say.” 

What would you hope fans take away and feel when listening to your music?

“Maybe just [feeling] relaxed and calm like I don’t necessarily intend or purposely make calming and relaxing music but it just always seems to come out that way. And a lot of people describe it that way. So it gives people like a break from things and can take their mind off things. I love that.”

How did the name of Jaguar Sun get created?

“I wish there was a cool story behind it, but it took me forever to come up with the name and it got to the point where I was just looking at random things in my room, looking at random words in a magazine and I just found ‘jaguar’ and then thought of all these other random words that might go with jaguar and I picked sun.”

“[It was] just pure chance and I rolled with it.”

Moving on to your tour. What was it like to be able to start your first leg on tour with the Mattson 2 and Paul Cherry and now with Edwin Raphael and getting back on the road again? 

“The first stretch of the culture and the magnitude was amazing, both those bands are incredibly nice. Incredibly cool to tour with and watching their set each night was amazing. And nothing but good things to say. Doing a little stretch of the Midwest was cool as well. We had never hit some of those spots before like Milwaukee and Minneapolis. So it was kind of sweet doing that. Paul Cherry is someone that I went and saw one of his shows before I even started making music. So it was kind of cool to come full circle and then be touring with them. Starting off our headlines stretch with Edwin has been surreal like driving across the country. I’ve never done that before, like hitting places like Denver and going out all the way to the West Coast from there. It’s been a whirlwind so far. I don’t know, I just feel really lucky to be out here doing this.”

Earlier this year, you collaborated and released a two-song EP titled “IT GETS BETTER” with Husbands. What sparked both groups to work together?

“Yeah, I feel like we’ve been on each other’s radars for a while. This is another one of those things like Paul Cherry, a band that I listened to long before I started making music as well. But we managed to line up a tour together. And when that tour was coming up, we were just talking to each other and thought it’d be kind of cool to work on some music together pre-tour. So yeah, we just kind of hit the ground running and did those two collab tracks and it was great. It was a lot of fun working on that with them.”

Can you take us through your creative process to create songs that fuse dream-like soundscapes with an alt-pop sound?

“Yeah. I guess my process has largely been the same. Like I always just start music first. So a lot of the songs come from me just playing around on the guitar for a few hours or months even, if it takes that long to come up with an idea. I’ll just play around on the guitar until something sticks, start building up those layers, building up the drums, building up the face and the scent, kind of bring all that together, and then focus on like the vocals, the lyrics, all that stuff last.”

“I feel like it’s just what naturally comes out, is that dream pop soundscape. That atmospheric sound is just kind of how it flows when I’m working on music.”

Two of your most streamed songs are Forever and More and Make It Out. What do you think about how those songs have gained the most traction?

“It’s pretty wild. I feel like especially with Forever and More, that was a track that I didn’t originally intend on releasing. It was going to be on the “This Empty Town” album if I remember correctly, but I just didn’t feel super confident in it yet and after some time, I kind of revisited it and thought, you know, why not? Like, just put it out there and see what happens. And then lo and behold, that’s been the most popular track for the past two or so years that it’s been out.

“It’s just one of those things where you never know what’s gonna happen when you release music— the song you least expect to do well could just end up doing well.”

Photo/ Jaguar Sun on Instagram

Are there any artists that inspire your music?

“I feel like my current inspiration just constantly shifts based on who’s on the next release radar playlist that I listen to, but I feel like my core inspirations that got me into making music in the first place were Real Estate, Frightened Rabbit, Fruit Bats, and Animal Collective even. Even Coldplay, like the early X&Y album and earlier than that. I was really inspired by a lot of that stuff. But now it’s on a rotating basis like Far Caspian has been one recently, he’s been very inspiring. Toledo, Oscar Lang, there’s just so much good music out there. I just feel like I’m constantly inspired by everything that’s happening.”

With these inspirations, are there any artists or bands in particular that you’d want to have featured on any upcoming albums? 

“It’s a good question. I feel like working with Husbands was kind of my gateway into collaborating because before that I’d never done it before. I’m very much a solo writer and producer, I love just hunkering down by myself and working on new music, but working with Husbands kind of opened my eyes to how fun and cool collaboration can be. If I could collaborate with an artist on an upcoming project, The Forecast would be a killer one. Artists like Oscar Lang too, there’s a lot of cool people out there that would be really sweet to work with.”

From the time you started Jaguar Sun to now has there been any dramatic changes in how you create your music?

“I guess it’s always kind of stayed consistent. I just feel like I’m slowly growing over time. Each project that I release, I learn a little bit more about mixing. I learn a little bit more about production and the sound I’m kind of aiming to create.”

“I feel like there’s just a slow progression through each album, not necessarily a drastic change, but a constant evolution of learning new things and figuring out more of the songs that I want to create.”

What can we expect from you for the rest of the year?

After this tour, I plan on hunkering down and working on more new music.”

“I’ve got a five-song EP that I’m in the middle of working on. It should hopefully be coming out early next year. Got a single coming out in late September. And then I think we might be heading to North Carolina and some of the East Coast for a little weekend tour. So definitely keep your eyes peeled for more music and more shows.”

I would like to thank Jaguar Sun and his team for putting time aside to conduct this interview, as well as KCR College Radio for giving me this opportunity. I am looking forward to seeing where the band goes in the future.