Zigtebra’s origin story reads like the synopsis of a critically-acclaimed epic novel — a cross-country tour de force that reveals the gravitational powers of familial bonds and Synth Pop.
The Chicagoan duo takes its name from the portmanteau of its members’ respective spirit animals. Emily Rose (Zebra) and Joseph Dummitt (Tiger) are half-siblings who reportedly met as members of an avant-garde, LGBTQ dance troupe called Pure Magical Love. Brought together by the fates, Rose and Dummitt (a.k.a. Joe Zeph) channeled their shared taste for dreamy sounds and experimental art into a collaborative project, spawning their 2015 debut album, The Brave.
Since then, Zigtebra has kept busy and well-traveled. In 2017, they released a new song and music video each month while working on improving their live show. As of now, the band is in the midst of a nine-month nationwide tour.
The duo’s Sparkle Tip EP, released in May, is a brief but cavernous effort, flooding skeletal electronic arrangements with gallons of reverb. You can almost taste the chlorine when Rose bobs to the surface for air, reciting verses that sound like New Wave nursery rhymes — half-giggled, half-moped.
You can’t help but be reminded of Youth Lagoon or Beach House, two projects with which Zigtebra shares a frugal approach to songwriting. The duo’s compositions seem to be held together by an ectoplasmic force, keyboards floating like slime-green clouds while drum machines clatter with the hollow tones of a washer-dryer in action.
In an interview with EP Culture Beat, Rose said that much of Zigtebra’s recent creative output is influenced by their life on the road — more specifically, the music that blasts on the car stereo while driving between tour dates.
“I’ve been in love with Perfume Genius lately,” she said. “I’m letting our music be inspired by other current and past musicians. Listening on the road for so many miles, you get to turn on some music and really dial into the sound. The bass tones they’re using. The rhythm. What leads up to the chorus? What’s the topic of the song?”
With an album currently in the works, it’s only a matter of time before Zigtebra’s new music can soundtrack your own drives, haunting the open highways with their imaginative (and vaguely Gothic) spirit.