Montaigne – Glorious Heights

Tell us a little bit about your music and the project Montaigne. 


Montaigne is an artist project that has developed contiguous to my personal development. In hindsight I’ve realised it’s about the journey of self-actualisation as expressed through the lens of confessional pop songwriting. A lot of my fans have connected with my music because they see their own internal struggles reflected in my songs and it’s been wonderful growing alongside them over the last ten years. My perspective on this changes regularly but right now I feel Montaigne is very much about finding humanity in common.

How did your stage name ‘Montaigne’ come about? 


When I was in my senior high school years I started to become curious about philosophy and had picked up Alain de Botton’s The Consolations of Philosophy. There’s a chapter in there about death which is examined through the lens of the French philosopher Montaigne and his brushes with and thoughts about it. The first page talks about how Montaigne boasted to have known a guy who could fart out a tune. I really liked that, so I called myself Montaigne.


What is your writing process like? Do you write with a band or solo and does it differ track to track?


Nowadays I write by myself by and large though many of my most popular releases have been co-writes. My process has changed over time but nowadays I tend to start making the aesthetic elements of the song before I start writing lyrics and vocal melody. Occasionally I do it the other way around, both work. When I’ve worked with producers they usually do the same, start with making a song while I wait to hear how ideas are shaping up and then I begin to write as I grow inspired. I think sound and the feeling it produces necessarily informs what the lyrics and/or story should be. They need to match for it to be a really great song.


Have you had a moment in your career that is a highlight for you? A ‘pinch me’ moment? 


Probably getting an affirmative reply from David Byrne about working on music together, that’s truly the most special thing that will ever happen to anyone ever, including having children. 


What is your favourite thing about playing to a live audience? 


My favourite thing is when they really love the show and you can feel the exultation from everyone.


What goes into preparing for a live show? Do you have any pre-show rituals? 


There’s a lot of work required to do a live show! For my band it’s a lot of programming stuff into Ableton, click track, playback, pads, midi, tempo, all of that. I fortunately have not had to do any of it in my whole career though that’s something I’m now eager to learn. For me, it’s about making sure my voice is up to the task of singing 12 or more of my songs in a row and thinking about physical movement. I don’t actually think about it that much, I just get up there and improvise, which is fun.

Where in the world would you love to perform GLORIOUS HEIGHTS and why? 


Pretty much anywhere but Australia! I’ve never been able to do a show overseas in my whole career, which seems crazy, but coronavirus really ground everyone’s live careers to a screeching halt.


Do you enjoy any other aspects of creativity that come with your music, such as the designs for your vinyl and vinyl colour etc?


While I love visual art and design, it stresses me out so much to have to think about it for my own music. To this day, with every album I’ve put out, I struggle with wanting to find the PERFECT thing and never being able to identify it. I love all the design of the records I’ve put out and the artists are wonderful creators but boy was the path to realising all of them full of fretting and indecision. The easiest time with it I’ve had was for making it! and that’s because I had a creative director in Jacinthe Lau. Really helpful to have!!!

Tell us a little bit about the inspiration for GLORIOUS HEIGHTS. Is there a stand out track you would recommend to someone listening to the record for the first time? 


I’d probably have to recommend ‘Because I Love You’ which is not only my most popular song but also the song which more or less encapsulates the period of time that this record was spawned in. That album describes what we’d probably call a “canon event” nowadays: a newly adult young person socialised as a girl dating for the very first time and inevitably winding up in situationships or relationships with insecure much older men.


Do you have any plans for Record Store Day? Instore signing or shopping at some of your favourite stores? 


I’m going to do some in-store signing and shopping foooor sure. I’m hoping to be at HUM as well as Red Eye Records in Sydney Eora.