Montaigne is the stage name of 2012 Unearthed High finalist Jessica Cerro. Since impressing us with her Unearthed High entry 'Anyone But Me' she has taken a couple of years to refine and develop her sound - and boy oh boy was it worth the wait! The first offerings from her forthcoming EP are big and bold and beautiful, and available here on Unearthed.
Tell us about your music. How did you develop your sound?
My sound is rather intertwined with my subconscious so however I feel as a human being mentally, intellectually and spiritually shapes the kind of sound that manifests in my mind and which I seek to give substance to. I have very few production skills and play only two instruments, one (the piano) at a very basic level, so the way the songs ended up on the EP was shaped largely by the big conceptual ideas I was throwing at Tony who produced it and the way that Tony understood them. And of course by the references I gave, such as M83, Arcade Fire, Owen Pallett, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, Björk, Sigur Rós etc. I think the greatest influences in the development of my sound were the sounds of other artists, my own holistic self-development and of course the second party (Tony) involved (when someone else is involved, they’re always going to imbue a small piece of themselves). I do a lot of humming, too, and have a penchant for harmonies.
What’s your greatest source of inspiration for making music?
Life, I suppose. Things as they happen to me. Anything which elicits a creative reaction from me. I don’t like to force the process of making music, music for me is like something that’s always happening in my body and every now and again it seeks outlet. When I sit down and say, okay, I’m going to write a song now, whatever I write is crap. It’s when I surprise myself with a line or a quick melody that I write my best songs, they develop from there. Spontaneity is key.
What can punters expect from a Montaigne live show?
Some pretty loud vocals and some pretty wild gesticulation. Something you should engross yourself in and join. Whatever joining means to you.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given and who was it from?
I get this advice from many people, amongst them my parents and even John Watson, one of Australia’s most successful managers: don’t underestimate yourself. Or further than that, trust yourself. I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I get told that a lot with regards to my songwriting and my voice. And it’s important that I hold to that because I get frustrated easily if what’s in my head just won’t come out of me in exact form.
What Australian track would you play to cheer up someone who was crying?
Rock It by Little Red. Always.
What Australian track would you play to someone to make them cry?
Providence by Lisa Mitchell. Wouldn’t be tears of sadness though, more tears of wonder.
You’re the DJ at a party. The dance floor is pumping. What Australian track do you put on next?
My People by The Presets. Ooft.
What was the last local gig you went to? How was it?
The last gig I went to was Big Scary at Manning Bar. The band was freaking great, just their presence was enough to satisfy me I love Big Scary so much.
Tell us about the bands or people in the Sydney music community that inspire you.
I have a good friend who’s soon to put out a first single under the artist name Dead Language who constantly impresses me with his ability to balance uni, music and work. He’s got a really strong voice too, his growl power is crazy. He’s someone I can talk to about all the music stuff which I really appreciate, and he’s really passionate about it which I also really admire.
What are your plans for Montaigne in 2014?
In the immediate future, I’ll be on a panel for ABC Splash & Unearthed High in June where I’ll be performing a couple of songs acoustically. In the more distant future, there’ll be gigs coming up and I’ll be starting a new record…