How Jaguar Jonze’s ‘ANTIHERO’ EP Helped Her Reclaim Her Power
Jaguar Jonze is neither the hero nor villain of her own story — she's the antihero.
The Australia-based multi-hyphenate artist (singer! musician! photographer! visual artist!) embraces duality, self-realization and empowerment on her stunning new EP, ANTIHERO—a collection of five hyper-personal, sweeping electro-rock anthems.
Jonze builds her cinematic cyberpunk aesthetic on the foundation of a raw, frenetic soundscape, pulling sonic influence from Spaghetti Western soundtracks ("TESSELLATIONS"), new-wave ("CURLED IN") and trip-hop ("MURDER"). The EP manages to conjure the musical spirit of diverse musicians like Ennio Morricone, Metric and PJ Havey, all while existing entirely within its own unique, emotional audio-visual universe.
Ultimately, ANTIHERO tells a story of a woman in control of her own chaos as she navigates uncertainty, social isolation, romantic release and anxiety, all while fiercely glancing towards the future and reclaiming her power in the face of the unknown.
Below, Jaguar Jonze opens up about how anxiety and anime influenced her new ANTIHERO EP, out today (April 16).
I read that the world of popular music and experimental art wasn't really encouraged during your youth. How did you eventually discover those sides to yourself?
I think I discovered those sides as a necessity to being able to continue surviving. I had repressed myself so much that it all came spilling out as soon as I realized there were other ways of communicating the emotions and trauma that I had difficulty expressing with words.
Eventually, which artists and albums did you stumble upon that became formative for you in terms of creative influence?
Dummy by Portishead and Grace by Jeff Buckley.
What does it mean to be an "antihero"? How does the concept resonate for you, personally?
For me, it means you're neither perfect nor imperfect, that you're neither strictly bad nor good; that there are so many moving parts to us being humans. It's about being aware of your actions and how that behavior impacts yourself and others.
Is there a particular track on ANTIHERO that was most challenging to work on? Is there a track that pushed you further than you've ever gone before, in some sense?
“ASTRONAUT" was that song for me. I wrote “ASTRONAUT” four years ago, and it was the first time I wrote about how my anxiety impacted me. I didn't even really understand what anxiety was at that time. It took me four years to find the courage to release it and land on the right arrangement that celebrates it.
Is it true you recorded the EP while in the hospital? What was that experience like?
It's true! I recorded the EP while under hospital care with COVID-19. I was lucky to have my gear with me, having flown back straight from my U.S. tour. It's not an experience I'd like to do again, but at the time, I wanted to keep going, and so that was my only option.
How did your experience getting stuck in NYC when COVID hit result in "DEADALIVE"? Did writing that song give you a sense of catharsis as you worked through the anxieties you were dealing with at the time?
The first verse of "DEADALIVE" dealt with the anxiety and uncertainty we were facing while stuck in New York City. We wrote the second verse while I was back home in Australia, trying to recover from the virus. It definitely gave a sense of catharsis and understanding to the unique experience I had never endured before. Thinking back to it, one year on, how weird was it then to be told the world was in a pandemic, and now it is our everyday norm.
The EP closes with "ASTRONAUT," which has a very sweeping, cinematic quality. How does that track bookend the project?
I wanted to close the EP with my most intimate track, and so the arrangement I built around "ASTRONAUT" hopefully reflects that too. I wanted it to be lush and all-enveloping. I wanted so many sounds to be happening in a big swirl that there no longer is one dominant sound except for the vocal and baritone guitar driving the rhythm.
Is there any secret intention behind the track list order? It feels linear, in a way, and I'm wondering if that was intentional in a thematic sense.
Wow! Good spotting. I'm super impressed. We wrote the songs individually, but I purposefully planned them to weave an underlying story to thread them all together while I was under hospital care. The music videos and concepts were all planned during this time, and I'm currently working on stitching them together into an abstract, conceptual short film that I will release after the EP.
The EP has a sort of cyberpunk sheen. What sort of aesthetics inspired the visuals for ANTIHERO?
To be honest, I binge-watched so much anime when I was recovering. It definitely bled into my creative.
How do you hope people will feel when they listen to this body of work? What emotions do you hope to stir?
I hope it allows people to pause for a moment and reflect on what love and self-love are. That anxiety is okay, but it is about managing it or letting it control in situations. That toxicity does not equate to passion. And that not all patterns come out of order, as it can also keep us in chaos.