If I had to pick one album from this decade to be my sole comfort on a desert island, it would be Laura Jean’s Amateurs. Long after you’ve tired of Beyonce’s Renaissance, this album will continue to amaze.
The Australian artist is well-known and highly regarded in her native land. There’s even a new documentary film about the making of Amateurs – and let’s hope it will soon be available for streaming in the U.S.
The songwriting, singing and sonic textures on Amateurs are absolutely stunning. If I had the means of Elon Musk, I’d bankroll a 50-city U.S. tour so that Laura Jean could get the attention she so richly deserves in the States.
Amateurs is (in my opinion) the best album of the 2020s so far. Will you be touring outside Australia to promote it?
I am going to try and get over to Europe and the UK this year, if I can get an arts grant. I’ve toured there a few times before, once supporting Aldous Harding and once supporting Courtney Barnett, and am slowly building an audience there. I would love to go to the States but unfortunately the administration costs to apply for a visa for performing are too high for me to afford at the moment. I have never been to the USA and I hope my time will come one day. I would love to tour different countries in Asia, which is a little closer to us here in Australia, but the touring circuit is not as established. I still hold out hope to make some connections. As an Australian, unless you have some independent wealth, it’s hard to tour overseas, far too expensive.
You have a sly sense of humour that comes across when you “play the saxophone” in the video for “A Funny Thing Happened.” Do your fellow musicians appreciate your sense of humour?
You’d have to ask them. They’re usually the ones cracking me up. Though my songs can be sad, in day-to-day life I am a very silly person and I am glad you picked this up. I think I am a sad clown at heart and my songwriting is kind of the expression of that. I find it hard to like a piece of work – whether it be music or film or painting or sculpture – if it doesn’t have a sense of humour. Doesn’t have to be ‘funny’ – humour in art is the manifestation of self-awareness and empathy. And the humour must be accompanied by the most serious and exquisite craft to balance it out.
One of the themes of Amateurs is that art is sacred and isn’t diminished whatsoever if an artist works a “regular” job. How’s your quest for earning a law degree coming?
Haha. It’s slow and steady. I also have to work and do music stuff, so some semesters I go part-time. I’ve been studying for six years already, I have another couple to go – it’s a double degree. Arts, majoring in Indigenous Studies, and Law. The main reason I study law I think is because it gives my hungry and overactive brain something to gnaw on so it doesn’t start eating its own tail. Also, to be a more effective activist for Australian Indigenous rights. I also want to be financially a bit more secure one day so I can be there for my nephew and my godson and my friend’s children. I am deeply an aunt, a role I take seriously. I have never relied on music for money, it’s not how I approach it. I prefer to work and keep music joyful and unpressured by the material world. The pressure comes from my perfectionist streak to make a song work how I want it to.
Lorde is one of your biggest fans. You’re opening for her later this month, but do you ever collaborate on songs or musical projects?
No, not as yet. I would like to try and co-write with others but it takes trust which has to be built over time. Maybe when I’m a bit less busy I will have time to enter those special co-writing relationships. Like when I’m in my 60s.