Jaguar Jonze Interview

Artist projects
Jan 2020
Andy Tudehope

Deena Lynch is the multi-talented creative force that has taken 2019 by force. The Brisbane local who was born in Japan has spent the last few years spreading her eggs throughout a number of baskets, all of which are hatching in succession and leading to some seriously captivating chickens. Running her projects under a number of Aliases - Dusky Jonze - the photographer, Spectator Jonze - the artist and Jaguar Jonze the musician, she is finding herself gaining accolades within the entire ‘Jonze’ clan.

2019 saw Spectator Jonze nominated the prestigious Brisbane Portrait Prize for Queensland Ballet director - Li Cunxin. Not stopping there Jaguar Jonze dropped her second track - Beijing Baby, which found itself played on triple j national radio and picked up by almost all media in Australia - leading a string of modelling jobs for Bailey Nelson and JD sports and becoming the face of 2019’s Big Sound Festival. Not one to fall to a challenge, Jaguar performed acclaimed sets at the festival filled with soaring vocals, eccentric costumes and dance moves so wild, one could not take their eyes off the singer.

With Jaguar Jonze’s latest release out on November 8th and as well as a series of dirt bike rallies in the works, we caught up with Deena to find out more.

Hey Deena, Thanks so much for taking time to chat. How are you? What’s been going on?

I feel a little crazy and exhausted but it's also been such an amazing chapter of my life. What’s been going on? Do you have time? Because take a seat. Ha!

I’ve been working towards my first public gallery exhibition that will be held at the end of ths year for my Spectator Jonze art, which includes a collaboration with the local hospital and some of their mental health patients – the collaboration was to shed light on their beautiful stories through artworks and a mini-documentary. I also JUST finished installing my very first permanent mural at a shopping centre in Brisbane. It's the second time I've painted and stands at 4m x 6m so... it took a lot of time. Meanwhile, everything Jaguar Jonze has just been an unexpected whirlwind, so trying to stay on top of everything has been a welcomed hectic scramble. We’ve just kicked off the 'Kill Me With Your Love' Tour with plenty left to go, I recently did a Like A Version with Hermitude for Triple J and will be appearing at a couple of the Hermitude shows later this month, and also just getting this new single ready, filming the music video and filming some other exciting stuff that's coming out soon too but that I can’t talk about yet!

And in the middle of all of this - I went to hospital for anaphylaxis as I have a shellfish allergy. You'd never guess what set it off though. I ordered an UberEats meal one night after a long day of filming and ate 2 mouthfuls when I started choking on chicken risotto. 10 minutes later, my friend found that a cockroach had been cooked into the meal. The exoskeletons in shellfish and insects share the same chitin protein, so voila. I actually did the Like A Version the next day!


 You are not one to stop in one spot which is quite inspiring. Do you feel the projects you have now are a good place for you to sit with for a while or is there more on the horizon? Movie Producer Jonze? Chef Jonze? Jungle Jonze?

Backyard Opera Jonze. I'm going to take your job. Nah I'm kidding, I'm very much happy and content and also busy enough with the projects that I have going on right now and don't see anything else coming up on the horizon except to continue to feed and grow my current projects.

What is it about cars and dirt bikes that intrigues you so?

I guess it's the beauty of the engineering and machinery behind them, and how they do what they do and the different functions they serve it’s absolutely fascinating to me. I'm a bit nerdy and find it all so intriguing and fun. Then being able to work alongside the machines and feel it all as you drive or ride, it is a weird beautiful escape that takes me into my own world.

Can you tell us a bit about your studio space and what it is like.

It's honestly nothing special. Just a room next to my bathroom which is next to my bedroom. It acts as a bit of an office space, writing and recording studio and an art space but I do like it. I'm proud of my modest vinyl collection - in both records and little figurines. The windows also look out into a beautiful sunset everyday.

What overall is your aim with your creative outlets?

To find sustainably, to accomplish my own version of success, to inspire people, to allow people to feel connected, to share the amazing stories of all the people I meet and to pour my version of art and truth into the world.

I have recently been doing some reserach into the oringiality and authenticity of art. The idea being that we are all just re-creating things from the past wheather consciously or unconsiously based on our on contexts. What are your thoughts on this?

Do you mean like re-creating things from past art that already exists? Which also is then grabbed from the art before that, and then before that? It sounds like a mind fuck to me because I then think about how does one define art, because to me, art can literally be everything a human does. Cooking is art, engineering is art, how you organise your house is art, how you clean is art, how you fold or scrunch your toilet paper is art - and for me it just brings it down to this one thought.

Inspiration is to be found everywhere. You need to feed your brain for it to output ideas. And having that inspiration existed long before you and the need to feed your hungry brain. That doesn't mean it detracts from your art being original and authentic. You are original and authentic if you have honest conversations with yourself, express that truth and are then able to apply that into your creations. Obviously, there are distinct guidelines too. Don't blatantly copy. Don't lie to yourself about who you are as an artist. Don't create for others.

I understand the logic and the research behind this but, we're also humans with emotions, and if you fall too deep into this clear-cut way of thinking, we'll get stuck in a trap where we think we can never innovate in the creation of art because it already exists and is unoriginal, and I'd hate for that to happen. Art is also a reflection of the times and although, visually, it may remind you of the past and of previous artists, but the messaging and drive behind that art can be so very different due to our environment. What's going on in politics? What rights are we fighting for? What problems are we trying to grow awareness about?

I guess the moral of this story and the answer for me is: create and express freely and that is as original and authentic as you can be.

Do you have any significant musical memories that have stuck with you, that you think might attribute to your passion for creating music?

Music was a bit of a taboo for me growing up. But I had this babysitter who would encourage me to rebel a little under his care. I'd listen to him play piano for hours, and he'd try to teach me some of my favourite Anime theme songs. He'd make me stand in front of a mic every Sunday with his 20-something year old band mates when I was 13 to force myself to break free, let loose and grow confidence, but I just wouldn't do it, I would just stand there for weeks while they rehearsed. I think looking at how far I’ve come and how my confidence has grown and I look back and I definitely think him and those moments are significant for me because even though I wouldn’t do anything in those rehearsals he exposed me to something that was taboo in my own household and that definitely had an impact.

So, an asteroid is heading for earth and you are given a space ship to fly off to safety. The world art director says there is only enough space for you to take one piece of art, one music album and one photo from history. What is coming with you? (classic world art director to only allow one of each!)

Oh damn. This is tough! I would take a piece of M.C Escher's work because it's mentally stimulating for a long time, I would take Portishead's Dummy album because it's my number 1 and I never get sick of it and I guess a photo of earth if an asteroid is heading for it and turning it into history.

Your on stage moves are wildly good. Dancing - like everything really - is about doing what you want and not giving a fuck about what is going on around you and when you perform it is both captivating and allows for audiences to feel comfortable dancing themselves. Are you just going with the music or do you have moves or dancers that have inspired your style?

 I always cringe at myself when I watch my dancing back but honestly I’m just going with my feelings in the moment to the music, and moving around. I can be a bit clumsy though, and it's pretty common that I rip out a few cords. I think the worst one I've done was one mic cord, one guitar lead and then two of the leads on my drummer's pad all in one song... I blame the small stage. I don't actually know of any dancers, maybe dads on the dancefloor or Peter Garett because that's come up a few times.

Can you tell us a bit about your latest release?

Kill Me With Your Love is about toxic love, and how damaging it can be, but it’s also about not knowing any other kind of love in your life and how you fall back into that trap of toxicity again and again and again. I also find it’s about confusing that toxicity with this idea of passionate love, where you think that something is passionate and all consuming because it’s romantic but really it’s unhealthy and you need to learn to walk away.