FEATURE: Interview With Jessica MauboyWednesday , 01 Dec 2010
Crowned as a cultural ambassador for Australia, Jessica Mauboy is household name. Collaborating with hip-hop heavyweights in Los Angeles, Jessica has come a long way from her home town of Darwin.
I sat down with Jessica at the Langham hotel in Auckland to have a chat about her new album Get ‘Em Girls and touch on her musical career since her first appearance on Australia Idol when she was only 16 years old.
Your new album Get ‘Em Girls is out now, was it fun recording it in LA?
It was. It was the best and scariest experience I’ve ever been through. There were a lot of ups and downs. I remember, at first, thinking about the second album and trying to find a direction or something that I could write about but I knew that if I did that, then I wouldn’t get anything.
This album just seemed to pop. I went over to the states on my own. I had the opportunity to be on my own without my record label or any management and have some fun. I went without anything in my head, to start fresh.
I was working with some amazingly talented people and I had the opportunity of being one on one with them and that’s what really sparked me. With this album I knew I was able to be really free and I understood that nothing was silly, I would just get in to the groove. That’s not normally how I would work. Back in Australia when I recorded ‘Been Waiting’ we would start at nine and finish in the early afternoon, around six or seven o’clock. Obviously this was the other way around so we would start, usually at around nine at night and finish at around seven o’clock in the morning. It was crazy.
Did that give your album more of a club feel?
It did. I found that I worked best righting really late a night, surrounded by really loud bass and nothing else. It was really nice to feel like we were in a club and say whatever and nothing sounded silly. The album is harder, more confident and lyrically I really got to have fun with naming brands and being really classy but as the same time cheeky.
How did your collaboration with Snoop Dogg come about?
That was totally random. I was righting so many songs and I knew I wanted to collaborate with people but not in the sense of having features on the tracks. When I finished Get Em’ Girls there was kind of like this eight bar gap and we could either cut it or add someone on the track. I had in my head Nikki Minag at the time, she was really going off during the time I was there, even Missy Elliot and Lady Sovereign. I didn’t end up getting any of them but with the help of Bangladesh who produced the track, he contacted Snoop Dogg and that’s how it came about.
You shot to fame through Australian Idol. Do you think you would be just as passionate about music without the TV appearance?
Definitely. Even before Australian Idol, I was singing country music and entering a lot of other competitions and talent quests. I was really inspired by Michael Jackson, Mariah Carey and Whitney Huston. That gave me the passion to want to sing. I think the easiest way for me to get out there was busking and singing in my community. I think without the Australian Idol I would have tried another plan I recon.
You were a member of Australian girl group Young Divas, did you enjoy your time in that group?
Ha ha, I did. I wasn’t doing anything after idol and it was a great opportunity to get myself experience up in front of an audience. I think the record label and management thought it was great because obviously my management was managing them.
One of the girls had moved out because she wanted to do her own thing so they thought they would place me in there for however long. Personally I thought to myself ‘promise me that I’m not going to be in there for that long’. I didn’t really feel that I should be in a group but it was nice to be in front of an audience and have that connection. It was a bit like being back at school. It was fun but at some points I couldn’t handle being in a girl group. It was very competitive and I felt like ‘don’t want that feeling’. I’m lucky that I got to experience that for a little bit. I think I learned a lesson so it was great.
Are you planning any shows in New Zealand?
I was talking about that yesterday with the Sony NZ team. I’ve been planning to put a band together and I’ve recently got a new Musical Director. I’m trying to do different renditions of the songs with a kind of acoustic, soul feel.
Interview by David Apple.
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