I recently had the opportunity to talk to Australian pop artist Montaigne about a whole lot of diverse topics, from the likes of her brand new album ‘COMPLEX‘, which is out right now, how Montaigne made the album, what the inspiration for the album was, Montaigne’s obsession with comedy, living in a state of joyfully cool equilibrium, singles, nerd things and more.
Prior to the release of ‘COMPLEX’, Montaigne gave fans a taste of the album ‘Ready’, a song that was a “long time coming”, explains Montaigne.
Going into detail about the single, Montaigne explained how even though it was “not a real long time coming”, the single had been in her proverbial back pocket since December 2018.
“I’m not very good at being excited about things,” Montaigne explains, as she likes to live her life “at a constant medium [laughs].”
When questioned as to why Montaigne does not like to get exited about her own things, Montaigne explained to Eat This Music how if we had more than fifteen minutes we could have dived into that aspect of her life.
However, this past week saw the release of Montaigne’s sophomore album ‘Complex’, following on from her 2016 album ‘Glorious Heights‘, Montaigne explained to Eat This Music how she had been keeping herself quite busy, with the likes of “writing, doing art, singing a lot” and “really trying to work” her voice, “playing a lot of football — soccer that is”, also “travelling”, specifically Los Angeles and London, where a lit of the writing for Complex took place.
While on the break, Montaigne took time to “meet with new collaborators” while trying to “explore music in a new way” Montaigne “hadn’t before,” oh, and importantly, Montaigne “put on a comedy show — a music/comedy show a couple of years ago now; fun; how do you boil it all down,” Montaigne expresses.
When Montaigne explained to me she had put on a comedy show a couple of years ago, I just needed to now more… however, that will be for another day.
Montaigne’s Complex is a thirteen-track album that explores a lot of intriguing stories, however, before getting into the over-arching story of the album, I asked Montaigne why it took two-to-three years for the album to be released… Montaigne explained how she “got really unwell” and “burnt out in a really serious way” for six to eight months and that just made her “almost non-functioning”, while she was still “working and writing”, Montaigne was taking “things very slowly” with the production of the album; however, Montaigne is on top of her health now.
“It was just taking the time to make the things I needed to make, I think for some people music is magic and it just comes to them.”
“I think I am very good at writing music and I can actually write a good song very quickly”, Montaigne continues. However, Montaigne added, “in regards to songs which live in the same house [laughs], you know, that can take a bit more time”.
On the production aspect of COMPLEX, Montaigne went into more detail about the aforementioned, explaining how she “is not a band” and writing music can take time, especially since “often when” she is making music, there are “other people who don’t know each other” and have different “influences”, which can divert the style of music being created, “trying to choose songs which all fit together in one body of work amongst all of the collaborations” is a bit difficult, as Montaigne explains, their were “eight or seven” producers who worked on the album.
And while COMPLEX did only come out last week, – and just like with ‘Ready’ – Montaigne has had her album in her proverbial back pocket “for a year now”, and decisions “deciding when the right time is” affected the release of the album, and evidently “it is a combination of a bunch of things”.
“I’m a big fan of my work [laughs].”
In a bit of back and forth banter, Montaigne expresses how she “does not get excited” but she is “enthused” about things, “I don’t jump up and down and say “hippie, I’m amazing! But I do think I’m amazing [laughs].”
Montaigne assured me she knows her worth and she also knows that what she does “is good”, however, she is the “kind of person whose like “sweet, that’s great”; I’ve taken my moment, taken a deep breath in and out,” and then she’d be like “I’ve completed something worthwhile and that I like, and am proud of, and then I move on to the thing,” that is just the nature of Montaigne.
Expanding on the aforementioned, Montaigne adds how she is “constantly trying to be in a state of joyfully cool equilibrium”, and how Montaigne is “definitely not” complacent, in fact, Montaigne assured me she is the “opposite of complacent – let me tell you – at all fucking times.”
“Art imitates life,” Montaigne adds, the “life stuff is what goes into the art at the end of the day”, even going as far as to mention how “these conversations are what goes into” her music and songwriting.
Getting back into the discussion about the album, the song “I Am A Clown” was of particular interest to me, so I asked Montaigne what is it all about.
I asked Montaigne what conversation she had that made her create this song, on the creation of ‘I Am A Clown’, Montaigne explained how she “[laughs] had a conversation” with herself, there was a time in 2017 where Montaigne was “hanging around the comedy scene” and wanted to attempt stand up comedy.
As an introverted person, Montaigne does not have the ability to turn on humour, however, Montaigne assured me she does have a sense of humour and she is “good at finding things funny and laughing”, which is why she is into comedy. However, ‘I Am A Clown’ is a self-reminder for Montaigne that if she “can’t be goofy and silly” and try to “crake a joke” – and “feel free to try and do something which” she is not good at, that’s “the right person for her”, however, if she is “earnest, serious, sexy and cool” around [this] person, then “that means it is not right”; evidently there is an underlying of love and passion within the single.
“I am a Clown in a sense I am goofy and a massive dork, and a nerd, and really like dorky-nerdy things, and if I can’t feel at liberty to talk about those things in the way I know I want to with whoever I am romancing, like then, I am not supposed to be romancing them.”
Speaking on the importance of other songs on the album, Montaigne pinpoints ‘Is This All I Am Good For?’, ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, and maybe “The Dying Song”.
Speaking on ‘The Dying Song’, Montaigne explained to me how that song “is in the voice of another character”, in the “sense that the character is an amalgamation of all the various sci-fi, fantasy video games tropes that exist out there” specifically taking parts from Gears of War, Legend of Zelda, Dungeons & Dragons, “and like Kingdom Hearts”, and the “idea is that this protagonist has been tasked solely to save the entire universe” in the way many protagonist “in these sci-fi fantasy narratives” play out.
“The song is kind of going “what if this protagonist actually just fucked up and died?” That would mean whole world has gone to shit!”
To celebrate the release of the album Montaigne is heading out on the road in November.
Montaigne’s ‘COMPLEX’ is out now.