An Australian artist you have probably been hearing a lot about these last couple of months is non-other than 2012’s Triple J High finalist and Sydney musician Jessica Cerro, known more widely as her stage name Montaigne.
Now, she is bringing her journey to us through her second album, ‘Complex’.
Named after Michel de Montaigne, 16th Century French philosopher, Montaigne revealed in an interview that she tries to reflect some of his teachings in her music.
“I chose it because I liked it and because I speak French, but also because I thought if I adopted that name, then some of what he believed would reflect on what I do. That idea of being introspective and self-aware, trying to improve upon yourself and being open towards new ideas.”
In 2016 we saw the release of her debut album, Glorious Heights (which hit number 4 on the ARIA music charts) and the win of an ARIA Award for best breakthrough artist. It’s definitely been a massive couple of years for the young artist.
Once again, Montaigne has blessed our ears with the release of three unique songs off her new album; For your love, Love might be found (Volcano) and Ready.
In an interview with Triple J, Montaigne said the songs are a journey of who she has been and who she is now.
“These songs were written over the last three years, and I have changed radically as a person all throughout that time. The songs kind of reflect each of those people that I have been.”
With her second album Complex set to drop on the 30th of August, Fashion Industry Broadcast had a chat with the rising star about the forthcoming album and her passion for music.
So, what inspired you to become an artist?
“I don’t know if there’s a clear-cut answer to that, I guess it was just always innate. I’ve always loved singing and always loved writing. I was never like, I want the job title artist – I was just doing it!”
Your second album Complex is coming out on the 30th of August – what was the driving force behind it?
“My emotional life! It’s been about two and a half years since I started writing the first song that’s on the album – it’s just about things that happen in my life, and things that I observed to be worthy of writing about.
I write a lot of songs and these are just thirteen of them that ended up getting selected for the final cut. It’s just a little collection I guess, of some of the more hard hitting or poignant songs that wrote.”
One of the songs that has really hit home for me was the track Ready – what does it mean to you?
“It represents a change in mindset for me about the role of pop music and pop stars, and I use that term reluctantly because I don’t really see myself as a pop-star but I guess that’s what I am – maybe!
I think that pop music can do a world of good, and that’s sort of what the song represents for me.”
Since this album delves into your emotional journey, should we be listening to it in order of start to finish?
“Yeah! I mean I deliberately arranged the songs in that sequence, and I think there is definitely an emotional arc to follow there – which I think is the most fulfilling way to experience the album.
But you know, listen to it in whatever order you want! I think music listening should be entirely individual to the listener, what’s right for everyone is different.
It’s nice when people listen in order because I have made that deliberate artistic choice, but I also don’t want to dictate people’s choices.”
What is your writing process when creating an album?
“My process changes – a lot is just a stream of consciousness that is based on an emotion, event or a relationship. But I don’t think about it too much when I go into it – I just do it.
A lot of my writing is very intuitive, and then after I start on it that’s when I start to edit more finely and choose words carefully. But even then, I find that the words come to me very quickly because I think I have a good innate sense for sound and illiteration, and just the way words might sound good together. And I think that’s a big guide for my song writing process.”
The single Ready, was originally written by you for another artist ( Melbourne singer, Eliot) – what made you decide to keep it for yourself?
“The song was good, and my manager felt very confident about it and they asked me if I could put my vocals on it just to see what it sounded like. I asked Eliot’s permission and she was like I actually thought this song was better for you!
It did take me some time to be talked around to it, not because I didn’t like the song but because I was scared of the implications of identity and artistic aesthetic. I was worried that it was maybe too conventional, but you know I think pop music is beautiful because of how it brings people together and that’s what I kind of married myself to when I was considering the song.
The idea that this big empowering song will actually hearten people, encourage people and sort of bond people. I think that’s what ended up being the clencher for me.”
Montaigne will take to the road this November to celebrate the release of Complex, taking in 13 dates throughout the country. She’s partnered with fundraising program PLUS1, so $1 from each ticket sale will go to biodiversity non-profit Bush Heritage Australia.
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