Learning To Roar: How Singer-Songwriter Jaguar Jonze Found Her Voice
...And what a voice she's got.
Born in Japan to a Taiwanese mother and Australian father, the music of Jaguar Jonze (real name Deena Lynch) is as eclectic as her roots, with musical influences ranging from Portishead to The Smiths. Her debut single "You Got Left Behind" is a dark and broody yet upbeat song that highlights Jonze's smokey vocals and nostalgia-inducing guitar riffs.
"'You Got Left Behind' is about the pain of watching those close to you get stuck in a cyclical place of self-victimisation, self-pity and wallowing," she tells HerStyleAsia. "And no matter how much you try, they’re not ready to leave that place and so at some point, you have to take yourself out of the toxicity and wait for them to make the decision of change for themselves."
Jonze is performing at the Music Matters Festival in Singapore (September 7-12), as well as the International Indie Music Festival in Indonesia (September 26-October 1).
Where did the name “Jaguar Jonze” come from?
Jaguar Jonze started off as a nickname from friends for my seemingly alter ego stage presence on stage. For a long time, my friends would joke around that a panther was my spirit animal and it led from there.
How did you start making your own music?
I actually began creating music when I lost my very close friend at the age of 19. From there, I spontaneously bought an acoustic guitar from a garage sale and started writing songs to deal with my grief of his passing. I then went to record those songs as a dedication to his wondrous life but somewhere in that process, I fell in love with music and it turned into a lifestyle.
What themes do you explore with your music?
I can’t help but explore my emotions, my experiences, my traumas, my obstacles and my triumphs. Music is a cathartic process and self-discovery for me. I always struggled to talk openly and so, since I was a child, leaned towards music and art as an outlet.
What’s your songwriting process like?
It varies a lot. Sometimes I write the lyrics first, sometimes I write the music first, sometimes I write a poem and make it work into a song. Sometimes my guitarist sends me a riff and I write over it. Sometimes both my guitarist and I sit together and write something. Sometimes I write the music and lyrics all at the same time haha. There’s never been a concrete rule for me.
How similar/different is your visual art from your music?
Very different. I think my music is more a self-focus on my experiences and emotions as I wrote above. It’s a therapeutic process for my present mindset. While my art explores the inner workings of the beautiful people around me and how I have learned from their generosity. When I draw self-portraits I think it is a therapeutic process for my locked up past.
How excited are you to perform in Singapore and Indonesia?
SO EXCITED!! Can't wait to bring the band over and play internationally. I’ve only ever had the chance to do that acoustically.
What are you currently working on right now?
A music video, another single, maybe an EP… wink wink.
Jaguar Jonze: The 3 albums that changed my life
Sound & Color by Alabama Shakes
That production. Blew. My. Mind. The arrangement was so simple yet such a complicated thing to work out and nail. Her voice is like fireball whiskey – goes down smooth but packs a kick too.
Grace by Jeff Buckley
His genuineness in his delivery of emotions and messages is so unrivalled and a rare thing to find. This album has forever been one of my top favourites as I can revisit it at any time and marvel at the beauty of him as a person and musician.
Everything You’ve Come To Expect by The Last Shadow Puppets
This album is just fun. I’m so into music that usually has an undercurrent of darkness and sadness but these guys do the undercurrent of darkness with fun and happiness. It’s unusual but I always put it on repeat and have a good boogie. Those suave boys have got this girl swooning!