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SPOTLIGHT ON JAGUAR JONZE

Bunny Mode is out now!

Image: She Is Aphrodite.


Multimedia creative Jaguar Jonze recently treated us all with the release of her debut album, BUNNY MODE. We caught up with the artist to chat about the release, blurring the lines of genre, returning to the stage and so much more!


The musical project of musician Deena Lynch, the singer will be hitting the road on a national tour in support of the record. Kicking off in Melbourne on June 18, the run of shows will continue on to Geelong, Perth, Adelaide, the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Canberra, Wollongong and Sydney, before wrapping up in Newcastle on July 10. The singer is also set to join The Wombats on their national tour, alongside Alfie Templeman and The VANNS this June.




Your debut album under Jaguar Jonze BUNNY MODE is here! You’ve been releasing music under this project since 2018, and had been releasing music prior to that. What prompted you to take your time to create this body of work instead of releasing one fairly early?


I guess because the landscape is changing, and it's really difficult to just put out a debut album and for it to be received and consumed in the same way as it might have been back then. I really wanted, if I was to put out a body of work, for the emotional labor and the physical labour that comes with making a debut album to be appreciated for its full depth and also for it to be almost like this kind of, I guess, time capsule of the journey that people hopefully have been following me on. So it felt like a right time after everything, to make this debut album be one that is reflective of my journey and my obstacles, and my emotions and my culture as well.

The album is bursting with confidence and strength but there’s also vulnerability present that explores your journey as an assault survivor and as an advocate for change. But it also serves as a love letter and celebration of music and your own artistry. Could you take us through the themes explored across the album and the importance of using the record to share these stories and use your voice?

Yeah, I think that's another reason why this debut album seemed timely. And that is because my artistry has exploded out of my advocacy and also my confidence. Even just like having done the healing I've done publicly as an abuse survivor. All of that resulted in this transparency and honesty. As well as not capping, or allowing my inhibitions to just take centre stage. I'm not quite sure. I just feel like my songwriting and the lyrics and the melodies and the instrumentation all have grown to not be afraid, not be boxed into being small and quiet. It's using my voice and allowing me to really push for purpose, in my music as well. And I think it's something that I will always do. As much as the advocacy has really swallowed my artistry the last few years, I will always create with meaning and with purpose. And I'm really proud of the album that I've put together because no matter what happens or how people receive it, I know that I've done my absolute best, to make sure that I am giving myself a safe space and hopefully others, to have that same safe space that I needed during that recovery.

The album brings together these threads of pop, rock and punk within these super engaging and captivating soundscapes. How did you arrive at the overall genre-bending sonic realm of the album, further pushing the sounds present on your previous releases?


I don't know how I arrived there. I would say that if you listen to all my EPS, the signature sound is there. But the album pushes it further. And I think for me, my genre is really hard to define, because it's not just straight up pop, it's not just straight up rock. It's not just straight up punk, you know? It's not just straight up like cinematic, it just floats between all these different sounds that we're familiar with. But I think the thing that kind of like ribbon ties them nicely into a package is the attitude behind these songs. And that attitude is what is the signature sound of Jaguar Jonze. That's what I would say. [Laughs]

I love that. And it is so great, not really confining yourself to the one genre. When you think about it no one really listens to just one genre anymore, everyone loves a bit of everything.


Totally. I mean, I think also looking at my background, like I am a third culture kid. I was born in Japan, raised by my Taiwanese Mum, grew up in Australia. It's a melting pot of different cultures. But I feel like we can relate to that with how exposed we are to a whole array of music as well. And so it's really hard these days to just go, 'oh yeah, this person is straight up punk' and that's why genres like post-punk comes about, or post rock comes about. And we're starting to find it harder to define things, because those lines are blurred. I just want people to be able to hear my music and go, 'that is so Jaguar Jonze’. And I know that we normally love being able to put things into definable boxes because that's how we kind of categorise in our brains. But I wanna create my own category. That's my plan. [Laughs]

Could you give us a little bit of insight into the mechanics behind your songwriting process, and what works for you as an artist when it comes to creating?


It's all so unpredictable. I never really have a set process on how I create, and I think that's my magic. The magic of how I create is that, you know, sometimes it's taking a more visual route, sometimes it's completely musical, but then it could be like lyrics first, or music first, or chords first, or melody first, or collaborating with others. I'm pretty fluid, when it comes to creating. And I think that's also due to how easily my brain gets bored. [laughs]. And so the way I push and test my creative boundaries is by always throwing myself into different environments and processes.

You mentioned visuals there and you've shared some great imagery throughout the albums rollout. How do you conceptualise the visuals for the songs, and how important are they to you in terms of representing the themes of the songs and the overall visual identity for your music?

Music is my favourite medium. But, I'm technically a horrible musician and I'm technically a horrible artist. And I think what I really am is a storyteller. And that's why I really lean into the visual side of things too, because I am driven by, what do I want to say in this? What am I using this medium for? What purpose does it have? So that's why I think visuals have come into a huge role within my music, because it is like holding hands with the music and allowing people to escape into another world that I've built, and allowing them to kind of have this escapism. And that's what I love. This album has given me confidence to be able to do that. I've always tested it with ideas, but in this album, every single music video was produced, directed and edited by me. And I'd never done that before. And I've loved it. It's very difficult and it's so consuming, but I love it. Because I've been able to really push things, in different ways.

Which three songs off the album would you choose to play to someone who had never heard your music to make them an instant fan?


Hmm good question. I definitely would highlight WHO DIED AND MADE YOU KING, because that was the first single off the album. Even though it just seems so long ago, it really only was October last year. I mean, for anyone who was in the music industry, it wasn't just a song. It was this kind of political piece, I guess, that really instigated a lot of conversation and momentum and disruption. And so I'm really proud of that song. Even though for two months, I was sitting in my house rattled with anxiety about whether or not I should do it. Eight months on, I'm just so proud that I backed myself, and that I chose to find strength and used my resilience. And to speak up because everything that came after that song, has been culture changing. So that's the first one. And then I would also flag PUNCHLINE because I didn't realise it, but this album is very strong in its feminist theme. But PUNCHLINE is a little bit of an outlier. It's still very much well wrapped in the feminism, but it was my first time speaking out about what it's like for me as a woman of colour in the music industry. I learnt a lot through that process as well, on how unready we are in society to hear those discussions. But also how readily people were wanting to jump into that space, are carved, because there wasn't that space for them beforehand. So I learned as well that I wasn't isolated in my feeling and my thinking, because it's so unsaid, and so not readily discussed yet, that it kind of feels lonely in the process. So that was important for me as well. Sad as well, because it wasn't received as well in different territories. It was my best song ever in Asia, which I am extremely proud of. And that's really telling, but in other territories that I'm more familiar with it wasn't received as well. And you know, it's just like nice to make people uncomfortable, but it's also hard to not be able to create art freely. So I hope this is just like the first stone to turn over. And then the last song is MAN MADE MONSTER. It's the closing of the album. I think I'm really proud of that song because, in this day and age of having to constantly push out 'hot off the press' singles, MAN MADE MONSTER is kind of my body of work. There's a couple in the album that I'm really proud of, and I don't think I'd be able to release them if I didn't do a debut album because otherwise we just want that one hot single. I love MAN MADE MONSTER because of its ruthless storytelling as well. Also the fact that I am a versatile artist and as much as I love screaming down the microphone, I also love my strong power cinematic ballads as well.

Are there any lines or motifs on the album you find get stuck in your head or are most proud of?

Hmm. I feel like I said it with PUNCHLINE. PUNCHLINE is an ear worm. Every interview and every conversation I've had with people, they keep pulling out this one line, "we love culture, but make sure it's to our very liking, make it milky, make it plain and not too spicy." When I wrote the song, I didn't think I was going to release it. So it was just very like, 'here's my sassy side. This isn't gonna ever see the light of day. So I'm just gonna write my lyrics freely.' And there's been a little bit of, you know, me being from an Asian culture of when people bring up that lyric, I'm like, ‘ooh’ [covers eyes] you know? Like looking through the fingers like, ‘ooh, sorry’. You know? But everyone has loved that line and laughed at it. So that's the one I thought of first.

You'll be hitting the road soon on a national tour, and you're also supporting The Wombats on their Australian tour. What do you have in store for audiences who are attending these shows? You set the bar pretty high with your Eurovision Australia Decides performance, how are you going to top it?


[Laughs] I'll have to use this interview space to lower expectations. I will not be burning myself and lighting myself on fire at these shows. I repeat, [laughs] not lighting myself on fire [laughs]. It was a lot of work to be able to do that on that big stage and I don't think the little venues would be stoked. Actually, playing live shows seems a little bit far away these days. It always seems a little bit just like a pencil-in the calendar, but never does it turn into a reality. So I'm really excited to play shows because live performance is actually my favourite aspect of everything to do with music. That exchange of energy between the audience and you know, us on stage and having this unspoken dialogue is my favourite part of live performance. And I haven't been able to do that for so long. So I'm really excited to take this music and past music that people connect with, and just have face to face energy transactions with everyone.

How have you gone about crafting a set list after so long of little to no live music? Plus you've got all this new material you’re yet to play live.

Yep. Band rehearsal tomorrow. [Laughs] We're just trying to figure out what would be the best, I guess, dynamic for the show we want to set and what kind of story we want to tell and what journey we wanna go through. So it's still a work in progress. We've kind of sketched out where we want to go with things, but it's through trial and error and just through, you know, rehearsals and playing it through. I just want to make sure that we are keeping everyone, including myself, engaged throughout the whole performance.



GET TO KNOW JAGUAR JONZE


Biggest influences?

Portishead, Jeff Buckley, Johnny Cash are the first to come to mind.

Dream collaboration?

Alex Turner from Arctic Monkeys, please.

Album that has had the most impact on you?

Oh, I would say Dummy by Portishead.

What are you thinking about whilst you are performing?

I don't think. And when I don't think I'm performing my best, because it's like this out of body experience. Like being so present in my body that I'm not thinking about anything else. It doesn't always happen though. It's hard to make my mind to not think. [Laughs]

If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?

Ooh. This movie just came out and I loved it in the cinema and it would've been such a pleasure to be a part of this project. So I'm gonna say Everything Everywhere All at Once. Really cool soundtrack on that though, so I wouldn't wanna replace it. [Laughs]

Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?

Definitely Miley Cyrus.

What was the first song you loved to sing?

Probably like a song from Annie the musical [laughs] or Britney Spears. Yeah, definitely. I remember just getting the Stronger cassette tape.

First concert you went to?

With adults, to Celine Dion. Celine Dion is like a pleasure that I'm not guilty about. Just pleasure.

Best concert you have been to?

I can't remember what year it was, but one year at Bluesfest. City and Colour and The National were on the same stage, back to back with the changeover in between. And I just planted my feet in the ground at the front and did not move. And just for like three hours, I just cried. It was so good.

First album you ever bought?

Oh, I feel like the first album I bought was Aqua. I'm pretty sure I just moved to Australia and Aqua was the hot thing.

Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?

Definitely a Spice Girl. Like I am myself, a spicy girl. [Laughs]

If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?

I feel like I would be Paprika Jonze.

Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?

I mean, I think I can't go back from this year's Eurovision Australia Decides performance. That one was an extremely emotional performance for me. I poured so much into that, and was able to connect with so many survivors after that show. Yeah, I don't think I can compare anything to that and the response. The standing ovation and the fact that the crowd was able to control the TV. As in, they couldn't stop or just cut me off at all because the crowd were in control.

Do you have any guilty music pleasures or if you don't feel guilty about anything, is there anything that you listen to that those close to you would question?

Yes. I probably have a whole playlist of them, but yeah, definitely like Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Brian Adams, Chris Isaak. And then a whole bunch of RnB, a lot of RnB.

An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry?

Oh, hmm. That's a good question, the most influence. Oh, I don't know, because I really am in a place where I wish people took accountability and you know, held responsibility more. So there are people there that are pushing those boundaries, like Rina Sawayama, Charlie XCX. They're the ones that come to mind at the moment.

What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?

Remember that resilience is my biggest power and on those down days, use it. To keep persevering cause each time I do, I just keep getting better and creating bigger things.

The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?

My best friend had just passed away and I was 18 and I didn't know how to handle the grief anymore and I couldn't keep repressing my life trauma, you know, deeper and putting it aside. And so I just bought a guitar and started writing music with no background. That's not when I decided I should do music, but I realised that music was an important part in my life. But then I played my first show after I worked on some music and told myself it was just going to be this one show, but that one show has fucked me over [laughs]. And I flipped my life one eighty and knew that I could never go back. Cause after that one show, I knew I couldn't live my life without passion.



BUNNY MODE is out now! Full tour details below.


JAGUAR JONZE - THE BUNNY MODE AUSTRALIAN TOUR

Tickets


Saturday 18 June - Corner Hotel, Melbourne

Sunday 19 June - The Barwon Club, Geelong

Friday 24 June - Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth

Saturday 25 June - Lion Arts Factory, Adelaide

Friday 1 July - Miami Marketta, Gold Coast

Saturday 2 July - The Triffid, Brisbane

Friday 7 July - Kambri, Canberra

Friday 8 July - UOW Uni Bar, Wollongong

Saturday 9 July - Oxford Art Factory, Sydney

Sunday 10 July - Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle


THE WOMBATS AUSTRALIAN TOUR

Ticketing details available here


Sunday 5 June - HBF Stadium - Perth

Friday 10 June - John Cain Arena - Melbourne

Saturday 11 June - Hordern Pavilion - Sydney [Sold Out]

Sunday 12 June - Hordern Pavilion - Sydney

Friday 17 June - Riverstage - Sydney