ENTERTAINMENT

Aussie art pop radical Montaigne is bringing 2000s era teen spy energy to Eurovision

"I just want to see a world in which everyone is treated equally."
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Montaigne croons, “I wanna belong to the world, a mirror that shows technicolour,” in her song Technicolor.

WATCH: Montaigne – Technicolour – Eurovision 2021.

It’s a visually striking lyrical moment that speaks to the yearning to break away from disconnection and to feel united with the world.

Montaigne, 25, is competing on behalf of Australia at Eurovision this year and her single Technicolour couldn’t be more appropriately investigating the feeling of global disconnect.

Because, like many monumental events this year, Eurovision has been restricted by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

As a result, Montaigne will be performing her singles Don’t Break Me and Technicolour from a live-to-tape performance filmed in Australia.  

Although the pop art singer is isolated from attending the event, she has produced strong songs that show off her vibrant vocal chops, so there is no doubt she is strong competition. 

Girlfriend spoke with Montaigne about her Eurovision journey, her activism, themes from her second album, Complex, and her relationship with body image. 

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Montaigne is ready to make Australia proud. (Credit: Supplied)

Montaigne was approached twice to perform for Australia at Eurovision before taking on the intense experience, but she had one deal-making stipulation.

“My one stipulation was that I would only do Eurovision if I were able to write and submit a song that I like, but at the same time if I don’t come up with one I like, then I am not going to do it, and fortunately we ended up with don’t break me,” said Montaigne.

The singer-songwriter-musician has a strong sense of her identity as a creative, and when it comes to her writing, she has a fluid, intuitive and stream of consciousness approach to her craft. 

When it came to writing and producing her Eurovision songs, both records were both approached through different techniques. 

Technicolour was born through more organic and independent means of creating, which speaks to Montaigne’s instinctive working style. 

“The song started with me playing my guitar and singing a melody along, I improvise when I start things and see what comes out of my mouth, and if it makes sense, I keep it, but if I feel like something else sits there, then I use that.

“I finished the rest of it in the studio with Dave Hammer, who helped write and co-produce the song, and it was pretty much a combination of solo acoustic stuff and doing digital fleshed out stuff in the studio,” reflected Montaigne. 

The emotional and punchy Don’t Break Me down was born through a more collaborative experience in the studio. 

“That one was sort of straight to the studio and tried to write a song with other people,” said Montaigne.  

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“I wanted to try and like conjure that early 2000s sort of teen spy kind of energy.” (Credit: Supplied)

Fans of Eurovision know that the best part about the show is the incredible performances. 

Although Montaigne isn’t able to perform on stage at Rotterdam in the Netherlands, she has revealed to Girlfriend an intriguing insight into her taped performance. 

“I can’t say too much about it, but I wanted to try and like conjure that early 2000s sort of teen spy kind of energy,” said Montaigne. 

It’s easy to assume that filming a performance will be easier than a live recording, but Montaigne was only given a month to create the video. 

“We rehearsed a lot and as much as we could because we only had a month to film it.

“It honestly kind of sucked, but it was just the circumstances,” said Montaigne. 

As if the time frame wasn’t intense enough, the performance filmed in Sydney took place under strict conditions and was observed by Eurovision supervisors and accountants from Earnest & Young. 

This year the iconic show has implemented a focus on diversity, which is something Montaigne is happy to see from the European production. 

“Eurovision is all for diversity. It’s about bringing different cultures together to celebrate a common passion for music,” said Montaigne. 

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The singer performed at Mardi Gras this year. (Credit: Supplied)

Montaigne has been an outspoken and necessary voice in the Australian music industry through her public activism.

From being clear about her bisexuality, her veganism, and her passion for human rights, her most poignant moments have taken place in front of the flashy cameras at the Aria Awards.

In 2017, Montaigne stepped out on the red carpet with the words “People over profit” scrawled across her chest, and her intention behind the stance was to make a statement about veganism.

Then in 2018, she showed up to the awards show in a gorgeous feather dress with the words “Stop Adani” written across her face.

This was in response to the Indian mining giant Adani and their proposed Carmichael coal mine in Queensland.

Montaigne’s activism began to take form during her final years at school when she started to develop a sense of responsibility for topics she cared about.

“I feel like its something I started to properly engage with in year 11 when I was a teen, because up until then I was still figuring out who I was, and I am still figuring that out but I had more capacity at the time to think about those things and to care about those things and want to do something about them,” said Montaigne.

She believes that this sense of duty and desire for action derives from her empathetic nature and the notion that everyone deserves to be treated equally.

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“I am an empathetic human being.” (Credit: Supplied)

“I just want to see a world in which everyone is treated equally, and no one has to suffer or struggle to exist and live and thrive.

“I am an empathetic human being, I think, and you don’t want to see that shit happening when you are,” said Montaigne.

However, it seems the singer is rather hard on herself because she admitted to Girlfriend that she feels as she’s gotten older and has become more consumed by processing her own traumas that the strength of her activism is lacking.

“Even to this day, I do want to care, but you always want to give your 100 per cent to people, but sometimes you are at your half a quarter capacity, and you just can’t entertain that idea because you are barely awake.

“In highschool, I had more of that (activism) just because you don’t have any adult responsibilities and other things to worry about, and you haven’t quite developed the self-awareness of the trauma that you have experienced.

“Then you hit adulthood or later adulthood, and then your like ‘oh man, I have to process all this sh*t, fu*k;’ I feel like I am doing less than I should right now, but I am doing exactly what I can right now,” said Montaigne.

But even though she may feel her efforts are lacking, it’s clear to her fans and Australia that the singer is one of the most prolific and brave activists making up the Australian music industry.

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“I am the only person who will ever have the experiences I have had.” (Credit: Supplied)

Montaigne’s sophomore album Complex unpacks heavy topics like gender pay imbalance, environmental issues, loneliness, body image and even sex robots.

Society at large is grappling with loneliness more than ever, so it’s comforting to have a star like Montaigne be so open about her experiences with it.

“I think it’s the feeling that no one around me understands me and the particulars of what I am feeling; I am the only person who will ever have the experiences I have had, and the effects of those experiences on me and my mental health.

“That feeling of ‘oh I am the only one that will ever hold to this,’ I think that is the most lonely thing to me, and sometimes that does really get to me,” said Montaigne.

Montaigne really hits at the crux of loneliness and why it’s such an isolating feeling because it reminds us that we are alone.

Even when we are surrounded by those we love, there is a sense that no matter how much work we put in to understand each other deeply, we still can’t quite reach that euphoric and undeniable level of connection.

However, it’s not all bleak, and Montaigne has been able to lean on her partner and family to find some comfort from those thoughts.

“I think the knowledge that it is not permanent is generally helpful or just talking about it with my partner, even though, then again, I will never cross the line that I want to cross with him in terms of like understanding, and like mind-melding, I think talking about it is really handy and crying about it,” said Montaigne.

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Montaigne is on the pill to treat her PCOS. (Credit: Supplied)

Montaigne navigated her thoughts on body image in her second album, but she has found herself in a positive space despite having periods of ups and downs with her body.

“I use to have a really bad relationship with my body, and then I had a small physical breakdown, and I thought you know what the only thing that matters is my energy levels, and everything else can go out the window, it’s fine.

“I am in a fairly healthy place with my body, and I eat what I feel like I need to eat, I exercise regularly but not too much, and I think my struggle is less of body image these days but rather how to stay physically healthy and have enough energy and that stuff,” said Montaigne.

It’s always a hopeful moment to hear someone admit they have found a level of peace with their body.
However, the truth about bodies is they constantly need care.

And after getting diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome [PCOS], Montaigne has had to go on the contraceptive pill despite her disdain for the hormone-altering drug.

“I just started the pill a few months ago, I have PCOS which is like a hormonal disorder so I get f**ked periods, mad acne and fatigue.

“The pill is the only medication that they can prescribe and it’s so sh*t because the pill is bad already, the pill is not good for you, it balances some hormones but it messes with other parts of your body that is really bad for your mental health and I found that personally,” said Montaigne. 

Eurovision will take place on May 18 2021. 

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