Thrilling songstress Montaigne is celebrating the release of her new album Glorious Heights with an extensive national tour.
Glorious Heights is set to drop on Friday 5 August, featuring an electrifying perspective on 80s pop music. To celebrate its release, the singer is hitting the road for her Because I Love You tour, kicking it off with a performance at Brisbane Festival on Tuesday 13 September.
Montaigne — aka Jess Cerro — rose to fame in 2012 after she entered Triple J’s Unearthed competition and won. She was just 16 years old and still in high school at the time.
That year, she signed a publishing deal with Alberts and released her first EP, Life of Montaigne, and she’s been riding a wave of momentum ever since.
Jess says she’s always wanted to be a singer.
“I always wanted it to be my career, but it was a pipe dream for a while,” she says.
“Because it’s so difficult to get into, I constantly distracted myself with other things I thought I’d like better, but I always liked music the most. Not ‘liked’ it, actually, I lived it.
“Nothing gets me like music; I would probably be a shell of a person if I didn’t have music as my career.”
Jess’s unique style and voice can be compared to a range of powerful artists, including Marina and the Diamonds, Bjork, Florence and the Machine and Regina Spektor, but there is no one quite like her.
Jess believes her style comes from listening to a range of different artists and music.
“If you listen to a mixture of styles you in turn become varied in the way that you think and the way you approach things,” she says.
“I’m pretty spontaneous with the way my songs come together, too. I feel like if at that point in time, something needs to be changed, then I’ll change it.”
She says her inspiration when writing songs usually stems from real life experiences.
“Most of them contain my feelings and responses to certain events in my life and people in my life,” she says.
“It’s still a mystery to me, though. It kind of just happens. Sometimes I’ll have a bunch of words that I’ve written down and when it’s time to put a melody to them I’ll just make up the melody with my voice in whatever way feels right. Or sometimes something happens and I’m suddenly inspired. For some reason though, it just comes to me and it sounds good. It’s pretty random sometimes.”
Glorious Heights was written in close collaboration with Tony Buchen (Andy Bull, Spookyland, The Preatures) and recorded at Sony Studios and Studios 301. Jess says they have a good dynamic.
“I’m usually in charge of vocal melody and largely have a say in chord progression,” she says.
“Sometimes Tony leads, but then I’ll say, ‘What happens if we do this?’ It’s a very diplomatic process and very to-and-fro. We try not hurt each other’s feelings too much if we don’t like something.
“We have a good dynamic and we know each other’s limits and how to deal with each other. I’m definitely in charge of the way the song sounds, that’s very important to me.”
For the young and talented singers out there who are desperately trying to break into the industry, Jess has a bit of advice for you.
“Try everything! Try to get some live experience if possible, play a lot, write a lot, play your own songs, try not to work too many covers and just get your stuff out there. Chip away at it, that’s probably the least helpful bit of advice ever, but to be honest I’m doing what I’m doing today because I put my s**t out there,” she says.
“A lot of the industry is just really good timing and talent; if you have good talent you will get found.
“One last thing is, just be a nice person. No one likes a d***head, no one likes to work with a d***head.”
Jess’ first stop on her national tour will be Brisbane, with a performance on Tuesday 13 September at The Spiegeltent during Brisbane Festival.
“Brisbane audiences are always really responsive and excited,” she says.
“I really like festivals, so I’m quite excited.”
For tickets to the Brisbane performance visit www.brisbanefestival.com.au/whats-on/montaigne