On the radar: Jacco Gardner

Jacco is annoyingly talented - but you won't be able to stop yourself liking him
Jacco is annoyingly talented - but you won't be able to stop yourself liking him

Target: Jacco Gardner


Location: Hoorn, The Netherlands

Intelligence: Holland's Jacco Gardner is annoyingly talented. Songwriter, singer, arranger, multi-instrumentalist - he's the real deal among the legions of retro-revivalists hamming-up covers of join the dots garage bands.

Instead Jacco creates psychedelic pop arrangements with a remarkable sense of composition, melodic intuition and some of the finest-sounding recording technique this side of Muscle Shoals.

"Right now I don't hear a lot of music that has that cinematic atmosphere and feel combined with a lot of analogue equipment and gear," Jacco tells MusicRadar. "It's those things from the 60s that I really love, so it's just the frustration that if I don't hear that stuff out there then I'm going to do it myself, I guess."

Think of the adventurous minds of the late-60s studio hermits - The Beatles, Brian Wilson, The Zombies - tempered with the darkness of Barret-era Pink Floyd and rain-lashed Northern Europe and you're nearing the psych-sandwich that is Jacco's music.

As you'd expect from a man who idolises Curt Boettcher, analogue gear plays an important role in the recording process (in particular, Dynacord Echocord tape echoes), but unlike many of his peers the 24 year-old doesn't view it as a lifestyle choice.

"I think if you do it digitally, it can sometimes sound just as 'analogue' as analogue," explains Jacco. "You can do a lot with EQ and filters and convoluting reverb. You can get a really authentic sound, which I really believe in."

"Even more so if you combine it with tape machines. Likewise, if you use a synthesiser plugin and you process it rawly with tubes and then bounce it back to computer, it's really hard to tell if it was an analogue or digital synth."

Working through his Logic-based home studio allowed Jacco to spend 18 months crafting the astonishing tones on his debut album Cabinet Of Curiosities (out this week) and, wisely, to focus his finances on mastering. Still, all of the above would be totally irrelevant if the songs didn't pass muster. They do. In particular, the arrangements, an often overlooked aspect, have us captivated.

"It comes very naturally to me. The arrangements are the easiest parts of everything," reveals Jacco. "It's like fitting in pieces of a puzzle. I hear it first in my head and I'm glad that I can play the instrument like I hear it, rather than learning the instrument and then trying to hear something in my head and recording it."

Once more in summary: Jacco Gardner is annoyingly talented.

Hardware: Egmond Bass, Hohner Pianet M and Optigan keyboards, Logic, Dynacord Echocord tape echo, Mellotron samples

Further action: Check out the Jacco Gardner Facebook page for more information, music and tour dates.

Matthew Parker

Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.