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My Favourite New Zealand Artist: Jarrod Ross on Straitjacket Fits

For NZ Music Month, Rolling Stone AU/NZ asked musicians to share their favorite Kiwi artists and what sets them apart

Jarrod Ross


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Jarrod Ross knows New Zealand’s indie scene well, having been the guitarist and frontman for Auckland rock band Valedictions and the bassist for Flying Nun-signed indie rockers Pan Am.

Now he’s gone solo, channeling his rock, melodic acoustic, and psychedelic sound into tracks like “Just a Habit”, made in his home studio and mastered by Barry Blackler (DIRT, The Starlings, The Jesus and Mary Chain), and “Not waiting for a miracle”.

With a debut solo album in the works, there’s one band that particularly influences Ross with their dynamic range.

Below, he explains what makes legendary ‘Dunedin sound’ outfit Straitjacket Fits one of NZ’s most important bands.

I used to think nothing was impossible, that was until I was asked to name my favourite/most influential Kiwi music artist, literally impossible to have just one. Everyone will say Neil Finn and so would I, but I’m sure Neil would agree that Straitjacket Fits is one of NZ’s most unique and original sounding bands, which is why I’m gonna give them a high five.

The dynamics within their eclectic range of songs are inspiring, soft brooding moments that launch into screeching yet melodic guitars really hit me when I first heard them. The smooth harmonies that tangle with the minor notes keep the listener invested and restless until the end. “She Speeds” is timeless to me and is a great example of the loud, quiet loud that I love so much and try to incorporate into my own music. “Down in Splendour” and ‘“If I Were You” get me singing every time. The classics of course.

Then Shayne P. Carter went on to produce something completely different and also completely awesome with Dimmer. This really cements him in my mind as a brilliant Kiwi musician who can traverse genres & still sound great, something I also aspire to do. Thank you Straitjacket Fits, and thank you Neil for supporting me in this selection.