by jenellewitty@gmail.com

Montaigne Promo Pic

Australia’s stunning breakthrough talent Montaigne stole my heart a little more when she revealed to me she was a Gilmore Girls fan. Ahead of her feature performance next Friday night at WOMADelaide read why you will not want to miss this stunner!

Get ready to be jamming to some of the coolest tunes you’ve ever listened to from a young female artist of incredible substance! Sydney’s Jessica Cerro – known to most as Montaigne is about to hit the WOMADelaide stage.

In 2012, she caught the nations attention as a finalist in triple J’s Unearthed High, and in 2016, she released her debut album Glorious Heights, taking home an ARIA for Best Breakthrough Artist. She’s been busy touring with the likes of Boy and Bear, and recently collaborated with The Hilltop Hoods on ‘1955’. We talk about confidence, using your voice and dealing with bullying.


Hi Jess, thank you for taking the time to go through these questions! I am looking forward to finally seeing you play at WOMADelaide.

I love that you have such an intellectual drive behind your lyrics and a strong female voice! For such a young woman, you have found your voice early and embraced the opportunity to use it to encourage your peers to speak out, to share their stories and empower love. Was this something that you always knew you were working toward? 

I don’t think anyone ever *knows* unless of course they *are* trying to do something calculated. These are just things I find important to the wellbeing of society and so they’re actions and attitudes I want to commit myself to and encourage.

Montaigne Promo On Stage Image

At the moment you are taking submissions from fans of their stories of adversity to put together a video for “’Til It Kills Me”, what has the response to the call out been like so far? 

It’s been good! Prolific! I’ve selected my bunch now, I heard some really heavy stuff. People have been very courageous about opening up and showing the cracks in their souls, I feel so humbled and honoured to partake in their journeys.

Congratulations on your recent ARIA win! I love that you took the opportunity to wear a statement at an industry event with ‘People Over Profit’ marked across your chest. Obviously the lock out discussion has been done to death, but it is so vital for people to make the effort to actually go out and experience the arts. Live performances offer experiences firsthand for people to gain unique insight and fresh perspectives. What motivates you to speak out?

I just want the world to experience harmony (who doesn’t love safety and security amirite) and that is brought about by mutual understanding of one another and if I can do something to catalyse understanding on a grand social scale (challenge people’s paradigms), then I shall.

It looks like you had a lot of fun working with The Hilltop Hoods guys recently, it’s so important to collaborate with other creatives. Are there many artists that you would like to collaborate with in the future? 

Oh heck yeah! David Byrne is my dream collaborator, Willow Smith is another, Lido, David Kosten, Vera Blue, Björk is another dream collaborator, maybe even Porter Robinson…

You are bold and don’t seem conflicted about putting yourself out there, was this always the case, or did you reach a point where you were just comfortable to share and lay it all out there?

I think I grew into it. I used to be a bit shy about social media and performance but the more I got used to both, the more at home I felt, and I am very comfortable (as anyone is) with being me at home. I mean of course I sweeten myself so that I am palatable to the majority, but I definitely don’t hide my interests or passions or values from people. Not the important ones anyway.

Have you ever had that feeling after saying yes to something and later wondered what you were thinking?


You seem to really play different characters with your music. I get so many influences from Annie Lennox to Sia, what are you listening to at the moment?

I do! At the moment I’m smashing the soundtrack to Swiss Army Man by Andy Hull and Robert McDowell. Great film and great accompanying music.

Who would you love to hear singing one of your songs?

David Byrne.

You work with a number of local designers on incredible bespoke costumes for your live shows, including Jeff McCann’s garments made from recycled cardboard, how do you find the designers? 

They’re actually not bespoke! It’s stuff I’ve seen of theirs on Instagram that’s usually been pointed out to me by Melbourne-based stylist Simone Farrugia. I just ask to borrow their work for shows. Jeff actually came to wanting to collaborate and I said yes, when the time is right, and the time happened to be right for borrowing those cardboard pieces! He’s a legend.

What do you have going on in the second half of 2017?

It’s a secret for now…

Have you had many weird moments dealing with people in the public eye? As a blogger it’s always interesting to see people pipe up with negative opinions and the occasional trolling. My policy is to appreciate the attention but not get caught up in it, do you have any advice? 

I have not advice but what I think is a truth, correct me if you think I’m wrong: most people who are willing to go to a person’s page and personally insult them are projecting deep-seated insecurities or a negative environment which they’ve internalised from the past or are currently experiencing, and whilst it is very inconvenient for me to be at the brunt of that psyche, I most of all feel sorry for them and hope that they can resolve whatever is plaguing them in their lives. I instinctively think “fuck you!”, but my corrective reaction is one of sympathy.

When people have negative opinions of something, it is symptomatic of health and a strong sense of virtue when they decide to keep that between their friends, family, and themselves, instead of putting it on the internet. I just ignore comments, because a reply gives them power, and that feeling spurs them on.

What do you get up to in your down time? Are you reading anything worth recommending at the moment? 

I’m currently reading A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini which is VERY dark and heavy but recommended to anyone looking to broaden their perspective. I am also trying to get through every season of Gilmore Girls right now, I’m playing in a few couple indoor soccer teams, I enjoy running and listening to comedy as well as holistic health and wellness podcasts, I play the odd video game, I go see comedy shows, I practise German on DuoLingo – gosh there’s so much to do.

I’m not going to ask about what we can expect to see at WOMAD, I think the surprise will be worth holding out for. Your passionate, quirky and confident voice speaks for itself. Many of my readers have been sharing stories with me of their experiences with adversity and embracing all that comes with equal rights of late and a lot of them are based in the US, do you have any US tour plans coming up? I know that they will be keen to check you out. 

I don’t think I do, but hopefully one day…

Thanks again for your time Jess, looking forward to catching you at WOMAD next week. 


Friday 10th, 9:00pm at the Novatech Stage at WOMADelaide. Find Montaigne online here.

WOMADelaide 2017 will be held in the Adelaide Botanic Park on March 10-13th. With another impressive line up, head here to secure your tickets and do not miss out.

Missed my interview with Caiti Baker? click back here.

Let me know if you are heading to WOMADelaide this year, and who you are excited to see.


You may also like