After consistently showing fans and industry alike that her talent is one that extends far beyond a hot single here, a great support slot tour run there, Montaigne has gone and certified herself as an artist to be bloody well watching flourish (like we weren’t already) with her debut album, Glorious Heights.
Released today, the album has seen the songwriter push herself and the final result has been a diverse and textured debut record she’s immensely proud of, as we found out recently. Chatting with Jess Cerro ahead of Glorious Heights‘ release, she tells us some more about making the record with long-time collaborator and producer Tony Buchen, and her feelings towards this musical snapshot of an album.
“I really love it,” she enthuses. “I’m really happy with it and I want other people to love it and to be happy with it. I’m just proud of it as a whole; I think it’s all really good and I’m proud of the fact that it is all really good. I feel like all the songs are really solid and there’s no half-assed song on there; on all of them I absolutely put my best foot forward and I’m quite proud of that.”
Working with Buchen on Glorious Heights saw the dynamic between the producer and artist strengthen, as did Tony and Jess’ personal bond too. Now living in LA, Buchen and Montaigne are having to figure out how to work things out now he’s no longer Sydney-based, but Cerro is confident that moving ahead, they’re only going to get stronger as a creative duo.
“I think it [personal relationship] has also grown in the process of making this record.” she says. “In any other workplace or industry [it would sound] like a bad thing, but I think it makes for better music if you are personally close to the person you’re making it with. The thing about that is that he knows everything about my life. Every single dirty secret that I have, he knows. I’ve told him in complete and unadulterated detail. That means I can express myself however I want spontaneously in my song lyrics and tell him exactly where I’m coming from and what it should sound like; the visuals I have of it in my head that then translates into a sonic presentation.”
“We’re very close; I babysit his kids, I know his wife. We text each other different music we like and tell each other when exciting things are happening – I trust him very much as a creative person and he clearly trusts me. I think it’s just worked very well; we’re not even similar people, I think we’re of similar creative dispositions. We’re not afraid of the weird or the creepy or the scary. We invite it, really. I also come from a pop background and he comes from a very diverse background, but he’s not afraid of pop music. All of our weird and alternative interests filter into this pop foundation and we get along in that; neither of us are adverse to either of those things.”
Throwing herself into different music and exploring other genres and influences had a role in how Glorious Heights came together and indeed, the artist we’ve seen Montaigne become over the last year alone. While striking vocals and stage presence have been two elements of her musicianship we’ve been loving watching connect with fans, the fact that she’s unafraid of playing with convention in the music she makes is what makes Montaigne such a captivating artist.
“I’ve been writing a lot,” she mentions, when it comes to working with new ideas in and around Glorious Heights. “I have been putting a lot of effort into it, and the same goes for music; I’ll listen to a lot of music and I expose myself to a great variety of genres and artists and sounds and also lyrical content. I think a lot of it is due to the things I’ve experienced, even in just the past year. The creativity just kept flowing, you know?”
Now the album is finally out for fans and newcomers alike, the focus turns to Montaigne’s upcoming September tour, which will have her on the road right around the country. Having become a strong favourite on the Australian touring scene in the last 12 months, we’re excited to see what this new Montaigne live show is going to bring to the stage. While excitement is evident in her voice as we talk about the next few months ahead with Glorious Heights, Cerro also keeps things real.
When we caught some of her set at Splendour in the Grass recently, it was obvious that things had stepped up a notch for Montaigne, not just in terms of crowd size and enthusiasm, but in the show we were all gathered to watch. A good show, however, isn’t great, and ‘great’ is what Montaigne wants to be hitting.
“Admittedly I think they’ve [shows] been progressing, not in terms of audiences but in terms of myself, slower than I would like.” she says. “I don’t think I’ve been putting enough effort into really crafting a good show. I’m trying to catch up on heaps of work that I haven’t done now, which is good! I think people have loved them and they’ve been good, but they haven’t been great and I’m after great. I think that the more homework I do, the better they’ll be. I’m currently trying to do more homework!”
“Especially with this new music, I have to figure out how to use it and what to do with it, because it’s so fun. It’s a totally different vibe to what I’ve put out before and that requires a new approach. I think the audience can tell when you’ve tried! I think if I try this time, it will definitely be much better than it has been. Still, it’s been good and everyone’s really enjoyed it and people have come up after a show of mine and they’ve always had a really good time. They might think it’s the best thing they’ve ever seen, but they only think it’s the best thing they’ve ever seen because they don’t know they could be better than what I’ve done. I want to now try that.”
Montaigne’s Glorious Heights is out now. Catch her on the road at the following venues this September and October:
September 13th: The Spiegeltent @ BRISBANE FESTIVAL | All Ages | Tickets
September 16th: Carnival of Flowers, TOOWOOMBA | All Ages | Tickets
September 23rd: Fat Controller, ADELAIDE | Tickets
September 24th: Jack Rabbit Slims, PERTH | Tickets
October 1st: Beyond Festival, CANBERRA | All Ages | Tickets
October 2nd: Wildwood Festival, PORT MACQUARIE | All Ages | Tickets
October 3rd: Caloundra Music Festival, CALOUNDRA | All Ages | Tickets
October 7th: Uni Bar, WOLLONGONG | Tickets
October 8th: Oxford Art Factory, SYDNEY | Tickets
October 9th: Lizotte’s, NEWCASTLE | All Ages | Tickets
October 14th: Workers Club, GEELONG | Tickets
October 15th: Corner Hotel, MELBOURNE | Tickets