Introducing Jaguar Dolls, the Erika Linder-fronted band that promises to get you in your feelings

By Allyson Shiffman

Photo: Fredrik Wannerstedt

Meet the Jaguar Dolls, the Stockholm-based emotions-forward band fronted by model and actor Erika Linder. Following the release of their debut single, ‘Ghost in My Sheets’ we sit down with the band for their very first interview

Like many great bands, Jaguar Dolls was born of a breakup. Specifically, Erika Linder’s breakup. “When you suffer a broken heart, you seek refuge somewhere,” says Linder. “I just needed to do something completely different and work with new people. I just needed a change.” Though she’s best known as a model (characterised by her striking, androgynous aesthetic, Linder has modelled for the likes of Louis Vuitton and Chanel) and actor (most notably the sexy cult hit Below Her Mouth), the 33-year-old Swede has been casually dabbling in music – writing songs, fiddling around on the guitar – most of her life. Jaguar Dolls, however, is her first proper music project. “I would never have done this if I was in a relationship,” she says. “Because we’re basically in a relationship right now.”


Linder is referring to the Jaguar Dolls ‘thruple’, which is made up of herself as front woman, Derek Jaskot on guitar and Henry Tovar on keys and guitar (“In the studio, we pretty much play musical chairs with the instruments,” Linder says, adding that all three musicians share writing credits on their songs). The band came together in Linder’s native Stockholm, where she had decamped after that aforementioned breakup. “I felt so comfortable – almost like family, immediately,” Linder says of the band dynamic. Though she’s known Jaskot for a few years (he’s the boyfriend of one of her best friends, makeup artist Sandra Wannerstedt), they weren’t especially close until they started playing music together. Tovar, meanwhile, she met through Jaskot at Cava Baren, the prosecco-and-snacks bar where Jaskot worked at the time. “He was there having a drink by himself, and we just connected,” recalls Linder.

Derek Jaskot . Photo: Fredrik Wannerstedt

Erika Linder. Photo: Fredrik Wannerstedt

Henry Tovar. Photo: Fredrik Wannerstedt

The trio started fiddling around with some songs Linder had written. Initially, she just wanted some ‘professional assistance’ polishing up some material for an upcoming film in which she plays a musician. But the chemistry was immediate and soon they were testing out band names. “It just turned into a melting pot of the weirdness from each of us,” says Jaskot, who contributed some songs of his own to the project. The first name that was floated was Mojave Ghost (yes, like the Byredo perfume), but it didn’t feel quite right (plus the name was already taken by an Americana group out of Los Angeles). Shortly thereafter, they were watching a video of the one-man-band Steel Beans and, upon spotting his Jaguar guitar, landed on Jaguar Dolls. Turns out he wasn’t even playing a Jaguar, but the name stuck anyway.

It just turned into a melting pot of the weirdness from each of us.

Derek Jaskot

The music itself oscillates between lo-fi bedroom pop and big, bold rock music, underscored by a certain nostalgic 90s quality (perhaps it’s Linder’s vocals, which lean a little Mazzy Star-ish). The common denominator, however, is a certain sadness. “The whole premise since we started has been ‘Stay Sad’,” says Jaskot, half-joking. “Even if some of the songs sound happier, if you listen to them, they’re not f***ing happy at all.” This sentiment is underscored by a note hand-scrawled by Linder that hangs in the band’s Stockholm studio. It reads: “This is gonna hurt” and it’s joined by a drawing of a broken heart dripping blood. The band’s first single, ‘Ghost in My Sheets’, releasing today, is a moody meditation on past relationships.

Photo: Fredrik Wannerstedt

Photo: Fredrik Wannerstedt

Photo: Fredrik Wannerstedt

Most indie bands start from scratch, but Linder has a built-in, rather rabid fanbase eager to devour anything she puts out there. The extra eyes add a layer of pressure – one that freaked Linder out a bit in the beginning. “At first, I couldn’t even hear myself talk, I couldn’t watch myself in a movie because I’m like, ‘Oh, this is cringe’,” she says. “But now I’m thinking about so many aspects other than my voice. It’s the whole thing.” She isn’t overly concerned about the response of her 783k Instagram followers – they tend to support her in just about every endeavour – but rather the response of her colleagues in fashion and film. “I wouldn’t say I’m nervous about it… but…” she trails off. “But at the end of the day, I just do what I want to do anyway.”

What can we expect from a Jaguar Dolls concert? Suits, for one. “And then underneath it’s just jaguar-print panties,” jokes Linder. “But I still maintain that androgyny.” Jaskot, meanwhile, has already committed to a long-term aesthetic flourish: a massive tattoo of a jaguar head attached to a sexy doll body on his leg. “I told them I was going to get it,” he says. “But I don’t know if they really thought I was going to get it.”

So the Jaguar Dolls have committed to this long-term relationship, tattoo and all. I ask Linder’s bandmates what she’s like behind closed doors and Tovar chimes in. “Artistry, honesty and a musical sensibility some people don’t know about,” he says, noting that fans of her modelling and acting are about to see something totally different. “It’s coming from an honest place.”

Photographer: Fredrik Wannerstedt / Dunder Studios
Hair and Makeup Artist: Sandra Wannerstedt