Interview | Montaigne

Sydney’s Jessica Cerro aka Montaigne broke onto the Australian music scene back in 2012 after becoming a finalist in Triple J Unearthed High. After a string of single and EP releases over the last few years, Montaigne is set to release her debut album Glorious Heights next month. We had a chat with Montaigne just before she took stage at Splendour in the Grass. 

‘Because I love you’ came out just last week and it’s had a really warm reception so far. It’s got such an 80s synth pop feel to it, is that a kind of sound you listened to and had an interest in for a long time?
Definitely while we were writing the album. I was very into Talking Heads at the time and that filtered in in a big way.

Glorious Heights is out next month – how are you feeling about its release?
I’m feeling ready – I just want it to be out already. I’m very excited.

What was the process like of it all coming together – had you planned to release an album, did you have that in mind when writing?
It was a combination of co-writes that we did at the moment of doing the album and songs I’d written prior. I wrote eight with Tony and then five totally original songs.

Your have such a powerful voice – when did you realise you had pipes like that?
I don’t think I realised until a year or year and a half ago – the full extent of what I was capable of or how significant it was really. I feel like its power and strength only really started to be . It’s currently at its peak of power and strength whereas I think my voice was weaker even just a year ago.

When was your interest in making music first sparked?
I started writing music when I was about thirteen, I don’t know if I wanted to before then, I just got a guitar then. It’s possible that I started writing melodies before then, I just can’t really remember.

What kind of stuff were you listening to growing up?
When I was very young, I was really into Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson and Christina Aguilera and big female pop vocalists. I was really into whatever was on the radio and So Fresh compilations – really geared towards pop music. As I grew older, I got into pop punk around the age of thirteen, then I started getting into more alternative music. I started listening to Sigur Ros and Bjork and Florence, Arcade Fire, The National, Bright Eyes – all of those kinds of artists. Pretty diverse musical tastes according to my upbringing.

What have you found yourself listening to lately?
There’s an artist called Drella that’s an Australian based in the UK who used to be the lead singer of Papa vs Pretty – his bassist he came out with a new song recently called ‘Control’ which I’m obsessed with. Lately, I’ve been riffing off songs. Usually listen to a lot of albums but at the moment on an individual song. There’s this other song called ‘Water’ by Jamaican Queens which is amazing. Bat For Lashes just came out with a new album which admittedly I don’t love as much as I want to but I love everything that Bat For Lashes does. The new Broods album is fucking great. I really like the new Broods album, that’s very hot. I’m a big fan.

You’re playing Splendour this year is this your first big festival show?
Yeah, it is. I did the local set for Groovin last year but that was the early opening Canberra set so Splendour you could say is my first.

Who are you excited to see there?
I really want to see Sigur Ros but I might be leaving before then. Since I’ll be there anyway, I’ll probably check out The Cure. I’ll be seeing LDRU because my mate is going to be singing with him. There are a few friends that are playing that I’ll definitely check out. I want to see The 1975 because my mate photographed for them last year and she speaks very highly of them and I really like that new song they put out and bunch of other songs from that album. Otherwise, I’m not too fussed – none of my all time favourites are there in the time that I’m there.

After the album’s out what’s your touring schedule looking like for the rest of the year?
I have my headline single tour for ‘Because I Love You’ in September/October which is quite extensive. I’ll be doing a few festivals with that too. Beyond that, I don’t really know to be honest. I’m going to try and do festivals during the summer and all of that.

Montaigne’s debut album Glorious Heights is out Friday 5th August.