Mira Van Lierop

17 Apr
Music

Jaguar Jonze: “I Finished a Lot of ‘ANTIHERO’ While I Was Still in the Hospital With COVID-19”

Praised by Vogue and Christian Louboutin, Jaguar Jonze is making an impact with her music. The Australian singer uses different art disciplines to express her emotions but has never been as confident as she sounds on her new EP ‘ANTIHERO’. After being hospitalized with a Covid infection, her life was turned upside-down, but it also made her realize how big her passion for music is. Jaguar Jonze is putting herself on the map, and we’re pleased to introduce her to you too.

You’re in Australia, right? Was it strange to go back to normal life? 

It was really strange for me because I had Covid and I was in a hospital for 40 days, so I spent a lot of time on my own, so going back to normal life, for me, was really weird. I suffered so much social anxiety. Yeah, I don’t know after being in solitary confinement for so long, it just felt so weird to me to be amongst people. I also felt guilty or shameful—just all of those kinds of things—so it took a while for me to reintegrate back into society. 

But I’m not sure if it’s normal fully, yet. It just changes up and down. If we had this interview last week, it would be normal, but then we had a little flare-up over the weekend, and so now we’re back to wearing masks in my city. I think we’ve now grown used to having a lot of freedom, which I am so grateful for, but we also still have to be prepared for changes at any given moment. 

Do you think that society has changed due to the whole pandemic that has been influencing our lifestyle? 

I think it’s changed the whole world, right? I always thought I could plan and execute a plan. Now, in this time, I have this mindset of “I can have the plan, but I also have to be prepared for however many contingencies are possible.” I feel like that’s the difference: there’s no one concrete plan anymore. To survive in this environment, it’s how well can you adapt and pivot and change with the ever-changing environment. It’s just wild, but I definitely think it’s changing. 

I think, in terms of music and the entertainment space, we are having to innovate with how we can put ourselves in front of our audience. How we can maintain a sustainable career, and how we can continue to build momentum as an artist too. It’s really different, but I don’t mind it because it takes me out of my comfort zone, and a lot of opportunities that I have been able to have in the last year would’ve never happened without that kind of disruption. I welcome it, but I miss the old times too.

One plan that you could execute was your EP ANTIHERO, which is coming out this Friday. What is an antihero to you, and would you consider yourself an antihero?

Yeah, I think with this EP, I’m kind of considering everyone’s an antihero and that I am an antihero. It’s not necessarily that I’m bad or good. It’s I’m both perfect and imperfect. I’m both bad and good. I both can do well by others but make mistakes by others too. It’s about kind of exploring this vulnerability and invulnerability. Just these opposites of everything that makes us human, but that doesn’t make us at fault. Just kind of growing awareness about that and trying to make myself better every single day, you know? But there’s also a pressure to be absolutely perfect. 

 When did you start writing for this project, and how would you describe working on it?

Weird. (laughs) Everything’s weird! (laughs) I started writing one song four years ago, and then most of the EP was written maybe like a year prior but also leading up to when I was in the hospital. I finished a lot of it while I was still in the hospital with Covid-19, so the entire EP is recorded without me ever being in the same room as my band, which is really weird. 

We did a lot of Zoom sessions. We did a lot of face times because I was in the hospital. Luckily I had my gear with me, so I recorded everything myself on my end. On their end, they were like, “How’s this and how’s this?” and I’m like, “Move it to the .. oh yeah, yeah, yeah and try this note!” It took a lot of patience and a lot of texting and back and forth, but we knew that we wanted to get it out there and that it was worth it so … I’m really proud of us. It also just showed that my band and I have a great working relationship and that we could push through these difficult times and get the EP finished regardless of whether we were physically in the same room. 

And the EP comes with a five-part series that you made. Did the creative process of making that series help you to understand yourself better? 

Definitely. I think music and art are a way for me to have a conversation with myself that I probably don’t have the courage to do directly with words. And doing that through music and art then helps me be able to articulate it in words with others afterwards. But yeah, when I was writing the short film, the music, and everything it was just about me diving into this world and exploring to better understand why I’m feeling a certain way or why something didn’t sit right with me or why that happened. Those kinds of things. 

You’ve made a short movie series and some music; what other art disciplines help you with expressing yourself? 

I have a visual art project, which is like digital illustrations, and that’s on Spectator Jonze. For me, that helps me have conversations with other people outside of myself once I understood myself better. And the way Spectator Jonze works is, I interview each person before I draw their portrait. I find that it helps me understand that I’m not isolated; that other people are going through similar challenges, and that we can kind of come together and support each other to be able to move forward. 

Dusky Jonze, which is my photography project, is all about the relationship with my body. I’ve come from a really troubled background. I’ve been through a lot in my life and a lot of abuse. I was so disconnected from my body and my emotions. Music, art, and photography really helped me reclaim that power, rewrite that narrative, to then also find the courage to not be so afraid in expressing myself. 

So that’s pretty much, I guess, all the creative disciplines that I have, but it’s not limited to that, which is why the short film was just like an exploration for me to go further, but I wouldn’t call myself a filmmaker. I wanna create a world, and whatever sparks passion in me or can facilitate a discussion or expression, I’m gonna go and explore. That was kind of a really long answer, but I just need creativity. I need creating, and that helps regulate my everyday passion and understanding of myself.

What kind of extra dimension do you hope to bring with this short film to your EP?

I think visual is a huge part of natural communication for us humans. You know, sometimes you pull out a record not because of how they sound but because they have a really awesome artwork. And sometimes music videos are kind of like a glass of wine with your meal. (laughs) It helps compliment the whole experience. I hope that it adds that extra dimension in understanding this world that I created around ANTIHERO and where I escaped when I wrote these songs. I kept it quite conceptional because I want it to be interpreted individually by the person, so I’m not going to be force-feeding the message to anyone. It’s just kind of left in this ambiguous world, and people can decide what it means for them. 

And do you think that making music about all the things you’ve been through in your life is kind of a shield, where you can explain to someone else what happened to you but leave a lot of place for imagination?

Yeah, I definitely think that. In the beginning, it was a thick shield. I was making songs and putting things out there, but I still had this huge shield around me. As I write more music and more art, that shield kind of gets thinner and thinner because I’m less scared about saying what I want to say. And there’s always going to be a protective barrier around me because we need to have boundaries, but I think music and art have helped me find a healthier relationship with myself—how I take on what others think of me or say. I’m just growing my self-worth, self-confidence, and self-respect so that the outside noise doesn’t matter as much anymore, which is why the shield can be thin.

You’ve recently collaborated with the iconic brand Christian Louboutin. What’s it like when such a big and iconic brand asks you to make something conceptual and art-inspired? 

I screamed. (laughs) I was in the meeting, trying to act cool, and then I just couldn’t contain it anymore. I got out of my chair and ran around the room. I was going crazy because I haven’t worked with many brands of that caliber before. Christian Louboutin, for me, has been my number one brand that I was obsessed with since I was a child. 

I literally have this book called 101 dreams, and you write a 101 dreams that you want to achieve in your life—and this is like teenager me writing this. The first page! The first page is literally about Christian Louboutin! It’s like me being obsessed over Christian Louboutin. The second page is “I want to fall in love”. Christian Louboutin, for me, is more important than falling in love like that’s what teenager me thought. That’s how big of a deal it was when they came to me and said, “We believe in you as an artist, we want to commission art from you in all aspects of who you are,” that was the first time a company had ever commissioned something from all my Jonze worlds, “and you can do whatever you want interpreting from this collection.” And I was just (gestures mind blown)

Fashion seems to be a very big part of your artistry in general. What do you like about fashion, and where does your influence come from?

I think it’s similar to what I said before; fashion is a visual media, and it’s another communication tool to help us express ourselves. That’s why I think I love fashion. 

I respect good design. I love color blocking. I love minimalism. I just love when design is clever. People tend to think that I love lots of color and lots of prints and lots of craziness, but I don’t. I’m actually quite pared back, and I will just choose my moments of loudness. I do love streetwear, but I do also love high fashion and couture. For me, it’s like picking moments of each of that so that it just creates my own kind of identity, and that version can change from Monday to Sunday as well. Today you get kind of like moving house. (laughs

If you could design one piece now. What would you choose?

Shoes. I would love to design a pair of shoes. Just one time, at least. I think I would do a platform sneaker in black, yellow, red. 

Are these your go-to colors when it comes to fashion?

No, not really. I don’t know, probably. Most people would say probably. I feel like they are kind of the colors that people identify with me. I would just choose a dominant color whether it’s yellow or black, and then just put touches of red or the other one to kind of tie it all in together. But I also would weave in cultural elements that I want to share with everyone. So just mixing that all in together to create a Jaguar Jonze shoe. Is this a meeting? Is this a design meeting? 

I think we all have something in our heads right now. We want to see it come to life. We know what we want to do after this interview. 

Perfect! Call the manufacturer! (laughs)

Now the EP is coming out this Friday, are you going to fall into a black hole afterward, or do you already have things lined up? 

I actually have been writing a lot. I have an idea of a direction that I want to go into next, but it still is a little bit of a black hole. I need to get ANTIHERO out. Get that baby out there, cleanse my soul of ANTIHERO, have a moment to myself, and figure out the concepts for the next steps. So there is still a little bit of that black-hole period, but I am writing a lot, experimenting a lot, pushing sounds … I think I kinda wanna do something left of what people would expect of me in my next release, but we’ll just have to see. 

ANTIHERO is out on all platforms.

Interview by Maxim Meyer-Horn

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