Australia Decides 2022: Interview with Jaguar Jonze
Today we speak to 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 with her epic performance of ‘Rabbit Hole’. She has released numerous EP’s and became an advocate for the #MeToo movement, giving a voice to artists and people in the music industry, and she is an artist who has a very close connection with her fans and within the Eurovision fandom. It’s Jaguar Jonze.
Thank you for joining us.
Thank you, thank you so much for having me
Congratulations on being selected for Australia Decides 2022, what was your reaction when you found out the news that you have been selected?
Shock, I had a lot of shock and then excitement as well, because last time was a little bit like throwing me into the deep end and seeing if I could swim or not. And this time, I feel like I have a better understanding of what this amazing, unique and wonderful world is. And be less scared about who I am as an artist too.
You got a lot of love on your socials from your fans and Eurovision fans. How has the reception when the announcement was made?
It was so heartwarming, because for ages I was deliberating whether or not it was the right choice for me to do again, and two years later. But that reception just made me realise, like this community is a community that is really important to me, and one that I want to keep close to. And so I'm excited to do it all over again. But this time. You know, last time I was put on last minute because an artist pulled out. This time I feel like I'm put on there as an artist, you know, as an artist myself, so I get to show everyone what I'm about and what I want to say and I'm so excited for that.
How did it come to be, did you submit a song? Were you approached for Australia Decides?
I was approached and asked to submit songs and I, you know, the usual Eurovision processes, you get paired with a song that speaks to you as an artist. But that isn't how I work as a songwriter. As a songwriter, I need to tell my stories that come from my heart and my experiences. That authenticity is so important to me and that honesty and transparency as well. So I locked myself up for about a month. And I wrote seven songs for ‘Eurovision Australia Decides’, I don't think I've ever worked so hard in pumping these songs out, but I wanted it to be my best work. And so I put everything into making that happen.
You gave us a very epic performance at ‘Eurovision Australia Decides 2020’, including an incredible stage reveal! What can we expect from you on stage this time around?
So I can't reveal too much yet. But and we're still working on it. Because I have these big dreams that I want to make happen. And I'm trying to work through the loopholes to making that happen. But basically, I want to push boundaries. I want to show that I'm a versatile artist. And I want to let people have experiences that they've never had before. And that's for me as well. I want to have an experience that I've never had before as well. So expect to see something extraordinary, because that's really what I want to give back to the Eurovision community.
Well, it might surprise some people but in 2020 it was the first time you did live television you haven't had the luxuries of big lighting, big staging or even an ear pieces. So what did you learn from then that you hope to bring into this performance this time around? To be honest, I still feel so little compared to some of these heavyweights who are constantly, you know, in the front of live TV and developing that skill set and experience. But to be honest, I feel like that's what makes me as an artist. I am from the grassroots. I am learning together and growing together. But it's not about skills, for me. It's about how you tell your story and I really hope that it shows that I'm an artist and a different respect, you know, put the technical aside. And it's just about the truth and transparency and vulnerability. And I want to share that with the audience.
Eurovision fans and Australia Decides fans really would like to know, even if it's cryptic clues, what can we expect from your song?
I'm going to be quite confident here. And I'm usually very modest and humble. I honestly think it's my best song I've ever written in my entire life. And it's the most honest song I've ever crafted. So what can you expect a visual that matches with that as well. So if it's my best work yet, in my songwriting, I want it to also be my best work yet in life performance, and visual art as well. So really pushing myself to grow here. And I know I'm going to deliver, it's going to be, for me, I'm really working hard for this performance to be not an individual pursuit. It's a societal like community spirit that I want to embrace. So I think everyone has an involvement in this performance, and we're going to perform it together. So that's what I'm gonna say it's a collaboration for all of us.
You have had a huge two years being at the forefront of the #metoo movement in the Australian music industry. You’ve shown tremendous courage, collated stories as part of the movement and motivating so many in the industry, you’ve been recognised for your hard work, won the 2021 AIR Outstanding Achievement Award and the Triple J Done Good Award, congratulations on both! How has the last two years changed you as an artist?
I mean, when you just said that it made me really emotional, because I've just been fighting the last two years. Oh, I'm emotional. But I, you know, COVID really made it difficult for our music industry, and COVID personally affected me and my health. And then being on the front lines of the #metoo movement was a lot of re-living of trauma. And a lot of, it's a huge test of resilience and fortitude. And for ages, I didn't know what I was pushing for. I didn't know what the end result was going to be. But I'm now at this place of this was all worth it. And I know why I was fighting so hard. And it's, it's for this change. And that change has come about and I'm just in so much disbelief about it. But I also want to give that back. Like I was saying before, the Eurovision community really held me up through the toughest public two years of my life. Again, I'm getting so emotional, but they're like, my bestest friends, and I'm being so honest. Yeah. Um, yeah, it's been a really hard two years. And they were just there every step of the way. And I talk to them every day. And they remind me that what I'm doing is important. And that I have value and worth as an artist, and I have something really important to say, and they encouraged me to just keep pushing on and to do even bigger and better things. And I just want to show them that that support has been so worth it, that energy has not been wasted, I have taken all of that, and translated it into what I hope will be something that we will never forget. And be extremely proud of, but also to connect with everyone in the world to remember that they have a voice too and that they can overcome every adversity with grace and have the life that they deserve to have so. Well, I don't think I've ever been emotional like you got me.
In October you released ‘WHO DIED AND MADE YOU KING?’, it is an incredible song, it’s your most epic release yet. The song has instant impact and is powerful with incredible opening lines “I’m leading, I’m the voice of change, Your downfall isn’t far away”. What can you tell us about the release?
I mean, this is why I'm surprised, I'm emotional, because to fight, I've had to just continuously put on this really brave face, and to speak on behalf of so many survivors who don't have the strength and the voice to do it yet. And sometimes I forget that what I've been through and how hard it has been for me as well. And to advocate for so long in the music industry meant that I had to put my artistry aside. And that was really ironic. And it also made me really angry. The reason why I entered into the music industry is to be an artist. And I had to put my artistry aside to then push for a safe workplace around my artistry. That was really confusing for me, and frustrating because I wasn't able to express and that's how I maintain my well being as well. And so I've kind of just let myself have it. Like just took out the inhibitions and go, What are you feeling. And this is the song that came out from it. And it allowed me to take this advocacy and bring back my artistry and put them together and create this kind of power to, to say what I want to say, and to do it without fear. So I would say it's my angriest and most direct song I've ever written.
You filmed the stunning music video in the heritage listed Brisbane City Hall, you’re so talented that you directed, produced and edited the whole package yourself! How was that experience?
It was so much hard work. And like you said it was a heritage listed building. It is the most protected building in Brisbane. And then couple that with the Brisbane lockdown, I had to go through so many hurdles to make that happen. Everything had to be vetted like some crazy things like when we were filming in that room, we were not allowed to have any hairspray any steam, any heat. So if we needed to like you know, curl our hair and put makeup on and spray our hair and face, we had to go upstairs to level three into this like isolation room that wasn't going to like set off security, just managing all the different hurdles to make that clip, I can't believe we made it happen. We were given three hours to shoot that clip from start to finish so and it was tight. But I'm really proud of it because that building is gorgeous. And to have that as the backdrop to such an iconic moment for me, it’s priceless.
You recently released a new version of ‘WHO DIED AND MADE YOU KING?’ featuring the Zimbabwean-American singer, Shungudzo, which is incredible. How did that come about? And what was it like working with her?
It came about because we were internet friends. And people kept saying to us, you have to work together and you have to song write together and we had so many different Zoom meetings planned, where we would write together, but for some reason it never worked out, yet. Never worked out yet. She was either sick, or then I got sick. She was writing for her album. And then I was like working on new releases. And then someone sent her this song and I just said to her like, if you feel like it, do whatever you want. And she came back just before she was taking off on a flight with this cracker of a verse two so powerful that I when I got it, I just was like, whoa, we have to remake this. And just I don't know, do round two of this, I don't know, powerful combo of two women who fight for a lot of things and activists within our artistry too. So yeah, it's just amazing what you can do, even though you're not in the same place together.
What other projects or shows are you currently working on, what other things can we might expect from you next year?
I will drop a hint that I'm going to be releasing a new song before my Eurovision Australia Decides song. So we get another little extra gift before we start going into Eurovision season. And I'm directing and editing and producing that video as well. So that's what I'm finishing off this week.
Lastly if you got the opportunity to go to Turin for Eurovision 2022 but could only take three items with you, what would you take?
Are these objects because like am I allowed to say like my Australian Eurovision fans?
You could if you want, all together in a bag?
Yeah, we'll just like dehydrate everyone so that we just like package them. And then you take minimal space. And then when we go over to Turin we'll just put water back on and you're all pop, pop up in your human water forms. Okay, but I'll give my proper I would take what would I take I mean, I definitely would take my Australian Eurovision fans, number one. I'll take a take a fresh pair of underwear. I mean, just just one. So when I go on stage to perform, I'm just in fresh underwear every other day around that it's like whatever. But on stage, I would like to have fresh clean underwear and be at my very best. Maybe I'll bring like a pack of like koala key rings to then be able to give to other artists and bring our little Australia into Europe. But they weren't terrible answers.
I love that last one, like you're the Australian ambassador when you go there? Well, it's something I used to do is like everywhere I travelled, I always kept a pack. You just buy this pack and it’s, got 20 koalas in there. And I just would clip them in places and you know, and people would find them later and go like thanks for leaving, like a little Deena behind little Jaguar behind so I'm very sentimental. And we'll have to replace my first answer. It would definitely be my video camera so I can bring all the memories back and share it.
We cannot wait for your song release and to see what you have planned, for Australia Decides 2022 in the Gold Coast. All the best Jaguar and thank you very much for speaking to Aussievision today!
The full interview is now available on youtube:
Also check out our latest podcast episode with Dale and Mike to hear snippets from the interview including all the current Eurovision news!
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