“I don’t know where I belong”- a lyric from Mojo Juju’s title track from her 2018 album release, ‘Native Tongue’. Well, we sure know where the groundbreaking musician belongs- at the forefront of the Australian music scene representing women, the LGBTQI+ community, persons’ of colour and those of mixed race.
‘Native Tongue’ has been out for just over a month now and critics, and fans alike, are raving about the talent Mojo Juju possesses, the progressive nature of the album in sound and lyric, the complementary, undeniably powerful music videos attached to the singles, and the strong themes intertwined throughout of identity and representation in the Australian landscape. The third studio album explores Mojo’s background and that of her family and generations before them.
“You know for the very first time ever I just kind of sat down and went ‘I want to write an album about me’, so I guess in that way it’s a concept record and I hadn’t ever done that before. There were several different threads that I thought were strongly related to one another and I sort of had to work out how to weave those things together,” Mojo says.
“I wanted to talk about was really personal stories from my family history but in a broader sense- I guess about elders and ancestry and my relationship to those things and how that’s impacted on who I am and how I am in the world; how it’s informed the person that I am. I also wanted to look at my own story as a queer person of colour out in the world. How I fit in, in terms of the Australian landscape and Australian society. Where I fit and my frustrations with that, and I guess my kind of stepping into myself and all of the parts of my identity and taking ownership of them, which has been a really hard thing to do. Then the story of my parents and their experience; so I guess it’s a multi-generational thing. I think it’s about a really common story of identity and sort of being stuck between two worlds.”
Through ‘Native Tongue’, Mojo reveals the disconnected and confusing path she took in discovering her identity as a queer, mixed race female and person of colour.
“You know my father speaks four languages and I speak one,” Mojo explains. “I didn’t fit into the dominant narrative. I’m not white really, I never saw myself on the TV or anyone that looked like me and I didn’t hear stories that centred around people that I identify with, so you kind of really long for that connection to that culture and people that look like me and to people that have the same history that I have.”
Now residing in Melbourne, the Filipino/Wiradjuri/Anglo-Saxon artist feels like she has found herself and has connected with others who have felt that same disconnect.
“There’s a lot of other communities and people I’ve connected with that I didn’t have access to as a kid or a teenager growing up. Now I’ve moved to the city, I’ve been able to connect with queer communities and other people of colour from diverse backgrounds and there’s a solidarity in that experience.”
The genre-bending powerhouse vocalist has announced a massive 21 date national tour to coincide with the album launch, hitting up regional cities across the country with a stop in Geelong at the Worker’s Club on the way.
“I think it’s really important to reach out to those communities as well and provide entertainment. When you’re living in a really dense urban area things are different and people don’t have access to that entertainment,” Mojo acknowledges. “So it’s something I wanted to do because I did grow up in the country and it’s a huge part of who I am, and how I am, and why I do what I do. It empowered me to play music and express myself in that way and it’s cool if I can go there and give back a little, it’s good! I know that the album is pretty dense with lots of serious heavy kind of content but I’m just looking to have fun on this tour.”
The Native Tongue National Tour is partnered with Plus1 to donate $1 per ticket sold to the Aboriginal Legal Services, a cause close to home for the artist.
“I wanted to do something for the first nations community and it was really important to me that it was something autonomously run by the community or that was really culturally appropriate to the community,” explains Mojo.
What better way to spend a Sunday night then by watching an incredible talent, hearing those roaring vocals in person, and supporting a good cause!
When & Where: The Workers Club, Geelong – October 21.
Tickets are still available at https://www.mojojuju.net/tour/
Written by Tammy Walters