A Chat With Montaigne

There’s not too many better ways to spend a lunch break than ducking out of the office to catch up with Sydney songstress Montaigne. In the midst of a national tour for latest single ‘In The Dark’ and just hours before jumping on stage at Melbourne’s Howler, we talked collaborations with Gang Of Youths, standing up for the rights of photographers and intimate performances.

YOU PLAYED SOME PRETTY MASSIVe venues while supporting boy & bear in february. what was that experience like?

Yeah It was cool! I was really stoked, because I feel like my music was made for that size of venue and stage. So It felt, right. I wish I could of performed for more than half an hour. It was short, sweet and packed a lot of punch. Afterwards I was buzzing – it was a nice feeling getting off stage. Good audiences as well, and the Boy & Bear crew are lovely guys. We’re management buddies as well, so my management were there for a few shows. It was cool, a nice tour.

If you feel your sound is more suited to larger venues, how do you navigate playing to more intimate audiences?

I think it works, just because I’m good at intimate performance. It’s just less well suited – if you know what I mean? The songs are quite anthemic and big sounding. I love strings, and strings automatically add grandeur to a track. All of my tracks have strings in them. Intimate shows still work, it’s just the space doesn’t contain it as well, or it contains it too much. It can’t disperse freely. But it’s fine, people don’t seem to be phased by that – people seem to like the show either way.

That’s definitely true – I caught your Northcote Social Club show last year, it was beautiful!

I tell you what, that show, I was feeling really shit that day. I was having migraines and I just felt REALLY bad, I was about to pass out on the couch upstairs in the green room and then Miles, my drummer suggested I have an Aeropressed coffee. I was like, maybe that’d help? I had 2/3 hours before the show and he gave me this straight shot of coffee. I don’t drink coffee, I don’t touch it. I was like, ‘maybe this time it’ll help me?’ 5 minutes before the show, I started shaking and I felt like I was going to pass out. My body was going to collapse, I had to hold onto things right before I went on stage. I was struggling to open my eyes, I felt really bad. I went on stage feeling like I was drunk. So I’m glad it was fine!

you’re very forthcoming with stories and insights into your life on social media. Do you find conveying yourself so authentically an easy thing to do?

I suppose it’s just the way I am, I don’t think to much about it. I think about it to the extent of ‘will what I post offend anyone or be controversial in a bad way?’ That’s what I think about. Most of the things I post about are ‘…I ate some potatoes today.’ Or like, nice philosophical things, photos I like, or artists I enjoy. I’m a pretty tame person generally and I don’t have all that many controversial things to say, so yeah. It’s just me. Here’s my life, here’s what I think.

On that note, a few months ago you reposted some photos and you wrote a paragraph about how important it was to credit photographers. Speaking as a photographer – people appreciated the shit out of that.

It pisses me off. One of my best friends Michelle – she’s a photographer, and she’s been shooting for The 1975 while they were here. At the beginning, they weren’t crediting her – and I was like, what the fuck? Why? What is people’s pretention about that? I don’t understand? Do you really think your fans are going to like the photo less because you told them a person, a human being took it? I don’t get. Especially people who complain about not receiving money from music – with people downloading things illegally and such. If you’re going to say that – credit your photographers? They’re also artists, that’s their art and they’re not even getting paid to begin with. To not credit them either, ugh. It’s so easy too, it takes less than 10 seconds to write something.

You performed a cover of Jarryd James at the apra’s with gang of youths. having known the band for quite some time, How did this collaboration for come about?

Rob Connoly, the music director for the APRA awards thought it’d be cool to have Gang Of Youths and myself sing a song together – he didn’t even know we were mates. He was just like, ‘that could be a good collaboration!’ It just happened that I found out on the night of the APRA’s that he didn’t realise we were good friends. I was like, ‘yeah, I slept on Chochi’s couch for 3 months.’


Do you feel like there may be more collaborations in the future?

Dave and I have both said that one day when our things have blown over and we’re not focusing on Gang Of Youths and Montaigne, we should start a duo project where we do Fiest kind of songs. Nice songwriter-ey type tracks. We have well suited voices. The thing about Dave and I though, is that we’re both kind of selfish with our songwriting. We both would like to try our own lyrics, so compromise between us would be quite difficult… So we’d have to see… (Laughs).

I wanted to chat about ‘In The Dark’ for a little bit – it’s a beautiful layered masterpiece. How did it come together?

I wrote it at the same time I pre-produced it. I wrote the top line, but my producer Tony was kind of in charge of the drum beat. It came about when we wrote that beat – that was part of another song which we later finished, but we thought we’d apply it to ‘In The Dark’. What happened was, I wrote the verse quite quickly, Tony just had that drum beat. There was no chords beneath it, so I just went wild. It came together quite quickly, as did the lyrics, because I was feeling all the things. The chorus came about because Tony had just played that riff on guitar. I thought it’d be cool if I sang over it and that was the chorus! It all came together in a day, just from fucking around in the studio. We referenced a lot of St Vincent and David Byrne and I really wanted it to have horns.

I wish I kept the pre recordings. When I’m working with Tony I record a lot of little demos and things into my phone, but then I delete them when we’ve got the final version. I wish I kept them. I’ve got a few from other songs, but none for ‘In The Dark’ sadly, it’s too far back. That was around this time last year.

You’ve already got quite a few releases under your belt, is an album the plan now?

Yes, there’s an album coming up, with a single maybe next month. I’ll probably tour that album, I’ll assume. Since that’s what usually follows. Yeah, just lots of album stuff. It’s a pretty big deal, I suppose.


MONTAIGNE will be playing SPLENDOUR IN THE GRASS this july. Stay tuned for updates on her eagerly awaited album.

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