By: Raveena Grover
Following the launch of Montaigne’s latest album ‘Glorious Heights’, here’s an interview Vertigo editor Raveena Grover did with the Sydney songstress her from our very first issue. Enjoy!
Twenty-year-old Jessica Cerro, better known as Montaigne, began her music career at the age of four in her parents’ Canberra house. She has since become one of Triple J Unearthed’s youngest finalists at 16, toured nationally, and played alongside the likes of Washington, Boy and Bear, and Japanese Wallpaper. Entering the music industry through the Unearthed competition was not an active choice, but nevertheless something she knew she wanted to spend the rest of her life doing. Montaigne is a bright and energetic young woman who one of our editors, Raveena Grover, had the pleasure of chatting to earlier last month.
Grover: Who is Montaigne and what made you choose the stage name?
Montaigne: Montaigne was an accidental philosopher from the 16th century. He wasn’t afraid totalk about things in the public eye like other people were, at least in writing. And he was very much about being open about yourself. I’m a performer with a hope that I’ll be able to change the world for the better in some way.
Grover: What made you choose to pursue music instead of a “traditional” student path at such a young age?
Montaigne: I suppose the opportunity was right there – it was just a matter of taking it. I thought, “I can’t not do this now,” because I had the chance – and I had to take it.
Grover: Being young and in the arts industry, financial independence can often be a tricky issue. What tips could you give to others pursuing a similar path to yours?
Montaigne: There’s so little time to work when you’re trying to pursue a career as a musician. There’s not a lot of time to have a casual job. You’re either touring, or recording, or writing, or doing interviews or meeting someone. Or doing some sort of photoshoot or recording a music video. I get shit done because I am mentally ready to do it. I’m quite a healthy person and that’s a priority for me, and I want to see people around me healthy and well.
Grover: That leads me to my next question:how long have you been vegan for and how has that affected your professional life?
Montaigne: I’ve been vegan for roughly 3 years. On tour, it’s more difficult out in the regional areas. But even now, veganism is a growing movement and more and more cities and places have at least one vegan option somewhere. I try to avoid being forceful with my fans – ultimately Montaigne’s a business, and the business is music, and I don’t want to lose fans due to that. But I think that when I have more of a voice I will be able to.
Grover: That’s so great to hear. What have been some stand-out moments in your career so far?
Montaigne: I’m on the Boy and Bear tour right now, and our Perth show was pretty amazing. I played at Red Hill Auditorium which is a massive amphitheater and it was really beautiful. It’s probably the best performance I’ve ever given. I could see the faces of the people watching and I just love watching people react to the performance.
Grover: What are your career goals for the future?
Montaigne: I want to play sold out Maddison Square Gardens. I want to play a festival in Iceland. I want to meet Björk, David Byrne, Brian May, Palace, the Arcade Fire dude. I want to be able to pay for my parents’ debts and bills and stuff like that, and try to take care of them and my sister as well. And I want to write with David Byrne, which would be sick.