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Jaguar Jonze: "I never wanted to wait around for someone to make things happen for me"

Deena Lynch spent some years crafting her musicanship as Deena, whose smoky vocals shift between fragile and forceful. Today, she stands as Jaguar Jonze – crafting songs of melancholic beauty woven with gun slinging guitar lines and a strikingly rich, yet intimate voice.
Jaguar Jonze:

by SAND Magazine

September 05, 2018

When Jonze first entered the spotlight, it was her multicultural identity that caught our eye. Born in Japan to a Taiwanese mother and Australian father, she is as eclectic as her cultural upbringing. Think musical influences like Portishead, The Last Shadow Puppets, Nick Cave and Angel Olsen.

When she’s not writing or performing music as Jaguar Jonze, Deena is a multihyphenate who shapes her career around illustration, content creation and artist management. It is clear that her diverse experience in the creative circle over the years has informed her choices around identity building in her current solo musical path.

How did your name ‘Jaguar Jonze’ come about? What's the contrast between this alter ego and your other roles as illustrator, content creator and artist manager?

‘Jaguar Jonze’ came about as a bit of a nickname from friends. A group of them always considered my spiritual animal to be a panther. From there, it just kind of slowly morphed into this thing where one of my friends called me Jaguar Jones to dub my sassy, feisty alter ego on stage. After a few years, it has evolved into Jaguar Jonze and represents the passionate, raw, intimate and dark side of me.

She is very much different to Spectator Jonze the illustrator, who is just as passionate and raw but focuses on the other side of the connection – the people she interviews prior to drawing rather than herself. Spectator Jonze is about the people and their minds and is more of an entity about what the drawings represent rather than a character.

Then there is me in my day to day as Deena. I’m driven, I’m ambitious and it fuels into all of my passion projects but to do that I have to learn to survive so I dabble in a bit of everything to do so which is where content creating and artist managing comes in.

How does wearing multiple hats creatively inform your music and artistry as Jaguar Jonze?
I never wanted to wait around for someone or something to come along and make things happen for me as I knew it would never happen. So I put on these different hats to learn so I can set myself up and launch Jaguar Jonze forward regardless of my situation.
What motivated your move from Deena to Jaguar Jonze?

It just seemed so natural. It’s been 3 years since I’ve released music and in that time I’ve really developed as an artist, the band and I have discovered the soundscape and I’ve just honed who I am as a musician and performer. It was so different to Deena. 

Jaguar Jonze does place more emphasis on an enigmatic and ferocious spirit that lives inside me. It’s the spirit that drives me to be a go-getter and a hard worker but isn’t usually taking frontwoman presence in my day to day.
In crafting your sonic and visual identity, was it necessary to confront certain aspects of yourself as an individual, and what you were hoping to achieve?

Actually, it was a really easy process for me. I mean, it definitely took time but I think through this whole journey of re-discovering myself as an artist, it was a natural evolution and I just knew who I was and how that was to be translated visually and sonically.

You’ve associated your musical influences with your cultural upbringing. Being a Taiwanese-Australian who grew up in Japan and later living in Brisbane, are there fond memories you would say have shaped the artist you are today?

There would be so many. I think even little memories like chasing men in ‘oni’ (devil) masks as part of a children’s festival, going to rodeos with my dad, listening to classical music in gorgeous theatres with my mum all helped shape the artist I am today.
There are so many cultural influences and traditions in my life – they’ve all definitely had their bit in shaping who I am. I really like to pay respect to them so you’ll see elements in my music and art as well.
Congrats on scoring more than 50k listens on ‘You Got Left Behind’. Did you anticipate the response for this first single?

I definitely did not anticipate that response at all. I was so, so, so overwhelmingly flattered and couldn’t have asked for a better send off. The people around me who have patiently waited for this day have also been the best support network and I truly am blessed.

My band consists of Joe Fallon - who is foremost, a talented classical guitarist, Jasper Gundersen who also plays drums in First Beige and Aidan Hogg, my bassist who doubles as a producer/sound engineer in his normal everyday. I’ve been playing with Joe for 6 years and Jasper for 3 years, so we’ve really had the time to get onto the same wavelength and to also work out our different teamwork styles on stage and in studio. Aidan is our most recent addition, having joined us a few months ago. We feel super lucky, because he’s just slotted in like another pea in our pod.
We’re going on tour! It’s time to do some live shows, so we’ll be doing some in Australia, coming along to Music Matters in Singapore and heading to Indonesia as well. Super excited to play live together this week. I’ve got a music video up my sleeve too.
What are you anticipating for Music Matters Live 2018?
I’m looking forward to checking it all out. I’ve heard so much for so long, it’s a cool thought to know I’ll be there amongst it all for the first time and as an artist too. I’m really excited to learn as well and connect with people across the world.

Also, side note, I can’t wait to eat Bak Kut Teh and Hainanese chicken. My mum has already told me to bring home bulk bak kut teh herb sachets. She said, “Don’t even worry about the packaging, throw it away and bring back as much as you can.”

More about Jaguar Jonze here
Look up the full line-up at Music Matters Live 2018


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