Australia Decides 2022: Getting to know Jaguar Jonze
On 28 October 2021, Jaguar Jonze became one of the first artists revealed for ‘Eurovision – Australia Decides 2022’. She makes a return to the national final after competing in the 2020 edition, where she finished sixth with her epic performance of ‘Rabbit Hole’.
The multi-talented artist is a rising star whose career has been a rollercoaster ride for the last two years.
Garnering huge exposure after Australia Decides 2020, Jaguar was a 2020 Unearthed J Award nominee but had to cut short an American tour due to COVID-19, which she also contracted.
She then became an advocate for the #MeToo movement, giving a voice to artists and people in the music industry after having experienced it herself. She now reclaims her place in the industry with the release of the epic song ‘WHO DIED AND MADE YOU KING?’.
She is also an artist who has a very close connection with her fans (who she calls cubs) and with the Eurovision fandom.
Let’s take a closer look at Jaguar Jonze!
Who is Jaguar Jonze?
Jaguar Jonze, the moniker for Deena Lynch, is a Taiwanese-Australian (Taiwanese mother, Australian father) who was born in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan on 12 January 1992.
Deena relocated to Australia at six-years-old and has been based in Brisbane, Queensland since 2009.
She is an artist that keeps proving herself over and over again. With music and art as her ultimate passions, there is nothing she can't do - from exploring various genres in her music, to being a talented illustrator and photographer. She is also multilingual, speaking both Japanese and Chinese. Although Australia is now her home, she still views Japan as a second home, as her father still resides there.
For Deena, she says that songwriting is a cathartic process. When it comes to her music, she describes it as a conversation with herself and her subconscious, and a dialogue to understand what is happening underneath. Her 2020 ‘Australia Decides’ entry ‘Rabbit Hole’ was written about her struggles with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) over the past 20 years.
The beginning as Deena
The indie singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist started her career under the stage name Deena. She released her debut album ‘Lone Wolf’ in 2012, and then her sophomore album ‘Black Cat’ in 2015, which includes her official first single, ‘Cupid’.
On the second album, the multi-talented icon provided vocals, acoustic guitar, keyboard and organ.
Unfortunately, you can no longer buy the albums or find them on streaming services.
Deciding Deena the artist was too reserved, Deena the person then decided to take a new direction. Thus, Jaguar Jonze was born! Jaguar gave Deena permission to be the artist she is now and to be free to express herself the way she has always wanted.
She released her first single, ‘You Got Left Behind’, under her new stage name in 2018, .
Jaguar Jonze, Spectator Jonze & Dusky Jonze
Deena intertwines three main outlets to express her creativity. Music is her number one passion, followed by her visual art and finally her photography.
She releases projects under different aliases for each medium: her music under the moniker Jaguar Jonze, her narrative illustration project as Spectator Jonze and her gender-subverting photography project as Dusky Jonze.
This gives her powerful ways to process her most intimate vulnerabilities while empowering others to do the same.
Deena’s attention to detail in her work has not gone unnoticed. It has earned her partnerships with brands like Christian Louboutin, Reebok, BMW, Obey and Stüssy.
‘Eurovision - Australia Decides 2020’
Unlike many other artists in the Australian music industry, Jaguar Jonze didn’t sprout from the big reality TV shows, and had to work immensely hard to get to where she is now. This meant that when she joined ‘Eurovision - Australia Decides 2020’ with ‘Rabbit Hole’, it was the first time she had done live television. This was a dream come true for the young artist, who had never had the luxury of lighting, big staging or even ear pieces before.
Jaguar joined the line-up as a last minute decision after another artist pulled out. She found out that she was going to perform at Australia Decides - with a one in ten chance of heading to Eurovision - with only a month to prepare!
Her performance of ‘Rabbit Hole’ started off in a yellow boxed set, which fell to reveal the large stage and her whole band around her. This song and staging garnered her an immediate following of new fans within the Eurovision community, who quickly filled her in about the world of Eurovision.
Even dislocating her shoulder mid-performance on live TV during ‘Rabbit Hole’ couldn't stop Jaguar giving us an epic finish!
Not long after Australia Decides, she flew to America for a tour.
COVID-19 and the ‘Diamonds and Liquid Gold’ era
After returning from her cancelled American tour in March 2020, Jaguar unfortunately contracted COVID-19 on the flight back. She spent forty days in hospital care, having a fever for five weeks and being bedridden for seven.
Jaguar shared the whole ordeal online to raise awareness around the seriousness of the virus. In a March 2020 ABC Triple J article, she said:
“I wanted to share my experience openly because that’s how I want to use my space in the public, to inform honestly and openly, to de-stigmatise, to share every journey and hopefully, to help unravel some of that anxiety we’re feeling about the virus.”
During her time in hospital, she released her ‘Jaguar Jonze Colouring Book’ which fans could download for free to help pass the time in isolation.
Unfortunately, Jaguar copped Asian hate and racism on her social media after speaking openly about COVID-19. She addressed this openly on Instagram a year later:
Despite contacting the virus and being hospitalised, Jaguar proceeded with the release of her first EP, ‘Diamonds and Liquid Gold’, in April 2020. About the release she said:
“I feel like this EP is a journal to the first 18 months of Jaguar Jonze so it’s a bit eclectic in nature. It explores heartbreak, mental health and self-discovery and hopefully, invites people into the world I’ve spent so long creating and learning to share with no boundaries.”
(CONTENT WARNING: SEXUAL ASSAULT/ABUSE)
During 2020, Jaguar Jonze was at the forefront of a new #MeToo movement in the Australian music industry. The movement against assault and abuse started with Jaguar speaking out about her experience of sexual assault.
In a recent interview on Four Corners, in an episode called ‘Face The Music’ about the toxic culture in Sony Music Australia, and what she experience, Jaguar said:
“I wanted people to know that they weren’t alone. And I think I just wanted to feel the fire that was already starting to burn. It’s just been such a long time of hiding, hiding and hiding that it just took one little thread to unravel it all, in the end”
Jaguar was overwhelmed with messages from people who disclosed allegations of sexual assault, abuse of power and bullying at major record labels. She shared people's experiences through #metoo post-it notes.
This campaign created new momentum for change in the music industry.
In August, Jaguar revealed that she received over 400 stories of people with their own experience of sexual harassment and assault. In light of the situation, as well as the #FreeBritney movement that was also gaining force around the world, Jaguar released a cover of Britney Spears' classic track ‘Toxic’.
On Instagram in a post dated August 14, 2020, Jaguar explained:
“As a child, I completely missed the message and tone of what the song actually was and, revisiting as an adult, I wanted my cover to draw out how my understanding of the song has changed. This is my ode to all the people who stood up alongside me those last few weeks against toxic masculinity, toxic relationships and toxic environments in the music industry. We hear you, we see you and time is up.”
Deena is also a tireless advocate for mental health. A year later, in August 2021, she did a TEDx Talk where she shared her experience of overcoming complex PTSD through music.
As the voice at the centre of the Australian music industry's #metoo movement, Jaguar had to put promotion for her next EP, ‘ANTIHERO’, on hold.
The new album was conceived during her time in hospital during March 2020, when she contracted COVID-19. Jaguar wrote ‘ANTIHERO’ from her bed, recorded vocals for the EP while in hospital care, and conceptualised a short film to go with the new project, including set designs and costumes.
The ‘ANTIHERO’ short film was eventually released in September 2021 and sees Jaguar Jonze's full concept for the EP comes to fruition, with all five music videos from the EP tying together.
The piece is a fusion of cyberpunk and anime within a futuristic “sci-fi-like” world. A lot of work and time went into this piece - to bring her vision to life, Jaguar had to undergo stunt training with professionals in order to learn how to move around in a wire harness.
She worked on the songs for the 'ANTIHERO' EP alongside Dave Hammer, who co-wrote and produced Montaigne’s Eurovision 2021 entry Australia, ‘Technicolour’.
Unfortunately, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and state border closures within Australia, 2021 was still not a good year for musicians, artists and entertainers across the country. This year saw 37 of Jaguar's shows cancelled!
In August this year, she managed to headline the Cairns Festival on the Esplanade for the first time, showcasing songs from the new 'ANTIHERO' EP.
“I'm leading, I'm the voice of change”
Jaguar has grown immensely as an artist since ‘Eurovision - Australia Decides 2020’. Over the last 21 months she has shown courage, collating stories as part of Australia's #metoo movement and motivating so many in the industry with support for victims.
Early in the year, Jaguar received the 2021 AIR Outstanding Achievement Award in honour of her work raising awareness to ensure that all music industry practitioners operate in a safe and respectable environment.
Jaguar has also been recently been nominated for the Done Good Award in the J Awards run by the youth public broadcaster Triple J, for advocating for systemic change and support of abuse victims in the Australian music industry.
October 2021 saw the start of a new era for Jaguar. She made her epic return with the new single ‘WHO DIED AND MADE YOU KING?’.
In a departure from the sound of her previous EP, 'ANTIHERO', Jaguar comes in full volume, opening the song with "I'm leading, I'm the voice of change, Your downfall isn't far away". She is here to take back her power and voice.
Jaguar Jonze directed, produced and edited the whole music video for the song - a first for this innovative musician.
In the same month, SBS revealed Jaguar’s return to ‘Eurovision - Australia Decides’ and given that she has more than just one month this time around, we're sure she'll bring something big!
Here at Aussievision, we cannot wait to see what she has install for the Gold Coast.
You can follow Jaguar Jonze on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, or join the Jonze Society on Patreon where you can financially support her with many tiers to choose from.