Montaigne today released her song 'Don't Break Me' for Australia Decides.
We had a chat to her before the contest to find out more about her. Have a read below.
Firstly, congratulations on taking part in Australia Decides. What made you go "you know what, I'll try and go to Eurovision”?
It's an opportunity to try something new, to release a new song post-album, and to potentially make my mark on the international stage.
You've described Eurovision as being over the top art and expression with emotional intensity. Do you relate to that in any way as person or as an artist?
Yeah for sure. My whole act is just athletic angst.
Your live performances are energetic, angsty and fun... is that what we can expect from your performance at Australia Decides?
Your song 'Don't Break Me Now' - what's behind the song and was it something you wrote specifically for Australia Decides?
I wrote it specifically for Australia Decides — I wrote it in response to a book called Codependent No More by Melody Beattie which I was reading during the process of writing for it. Ant (of DNA, with whom I wrote the song) was also telling me his own story which related to some of what I was reading in the book about feeling unappreciated and like there was an imbalance of effort or care in the relationship so I ended up writing that story.
You are a self-described activist and you've really gone into bat for everything from the climate crisis to marriage equality and won an ARIA award with 'people over profit' emblazoned on your chest. Where does that passion for justice come from?
Empathy! Though I give shared credit for any Good Deed I’ve done in the public to the people around me who are smarter/wiser and have helped me shape/hone my empathy in action. I think having the ability to be open and receptive to listening to other people’s feelings and stories means you end up caring and subsequently helping, and helping in the most helpful way possible, if that makes sense? As in, I think I have ideas about helping sometimes which aren’t actually particularly useful or even ignorant in some ways, but then I field them to those people who are willing to teach me and I end up doing the right thing. I think top goodness is a team effort.
If you were in a position of power to change things nationally or globally what would be your focus?
Probably climate change at the moment right? But I think all the big issues we face are intersectional. What needs to happen is a complete systemic revamp and that takes a long, long time, probably with a lot of resistance along the way. If I were Prime Minister I might have the power to enact great change. But then would my party also be up for such tumultuous political transformation? It is a complex beast.
You kind of fell into professional music via making a video to get recruited to play football in the US college system. Did you reach a fork in the road moment where you had to go - football or music? How did you make that choice and was your dad (Australian soccer player Gus Cerro) supportive?
I did sort of but it’s so long ago it’s hard to remember whether or not I was torn. I don’t know that it looked like a fork in my mind. It wasn’t so clear as this or that, or I’d prefer this or that. I think the soccer dream kind of just ebbed away as I grew up and realised that maybe I didn’t want to commit my whole life to sport because I have a million other interests I’d like to explore, especially creative ones. Doing music now gives me the time and freedom to explore everything.
At Aussievision we are mad football fans, so we have to know, what club/s do you support? And please be warned, we will judge you!
To be honest I haven’t actively supported a club for years. I don’t watch much football. When I was 16/17, I was really into FC Barcelona though. Iniesta was my favourite player.
If you were selected and were in Europe before the contest, what dream football event would you attend?
I would love to see a Real Madrid v FC Barcelona game. Nothing like an old-fashioned rivalry between two of the best teams in the world.
Outside of music, saving the world and scoring goals, what are your other passions? I really like visual art! I’m not technically skilled but I would like to be…I like using my hands and I greatly appreciate people who commit themselves to their practice. I like video games and Dungeons & Dragons. I like listening to podcasts, I like comedy (improv, stand-up, sketch, all of it), I like reading. I like trying new physical activities, like rock-climbing/bouldering, Wing Chun, ice skating, yoga…I like writing poems, I write silly little ones for my partner for him to return to from work in the evening after I’ve gone. I like journalling! I do it everyday, I think self-reflection is essential to a life well-lived. I love trying to cook new meals, especially for my partner who loves food and deeply loves the smell and taste of it. I like a lot of stuff. And for those who don't know, why the stage name Montaigne? I took it from the French philosopher! I think we have thoughts in common, creative process too. And it’s a solid name. And finally if you were to be successful and make it to Rotterdam, and you could only take three items what would you take?
My Nintendo Switch, my origami papers, and my partner, who isn’t subject to these restrictive rules and will bring all other items I need for me.
Thanks for your time and look forward to your performance!
Montaigne will perform at Australia Decides on February 7 and 8 on the Gold Coast. Her song is 'Don't Break Me'.