“There’s a lot of stories that I tell on the album from my own experiences of isolation and being Other-ised in the media, in the music industry or on TV.”
The often divisive experience of ‘Otherness’ is far too prevalent in society than many can admit. But Melbourne’s Mojo Juju has released an album that channels a deep introspection on Otherness into a unifying force.
The record has gained her a whopping three ARIA nominations – announced yesterday, Mojo Ruiz de Luzuriaga herself is up through Breakthrough Artist of the Year; her third album Native Tongue up for Best Urban Release, and the title track’s video clip is nominated for Best Video.
Native Tongue stands as a symbol of safety and refuge to anyone who has ever felt under or misrepresented in the media and in the community.
In her brutal honesty, Mojo has created a work that goes beyond an album and signifies a social and political movement towards accepting diversity.
“One of the most rewarding experiences that has come out of this for me is hearing back from people who feel connected to the material,” Mojo explained, taken aback by the impact her album has had on audience and industry alike.
Her previous releases, especially Think Twice (released last year) went shockingly underappreciated; this hard-hitting pop offering has achieved a result that is long overdue; for people sit up and take notice.
“A lot of people have reached out already and expressed how much it means to them.”
Mojo Juju is creating not only a space to talk about these difficult (and, for many, confronting) topics, but she is also contributing to a new dialogue around diversity and Otherness.
“I feel like I need to talk about my experiences, and talk about where I want to see us in society get to, and how I want to see change in my society and in my world.
“Through the telling of these stories and addressing those ideas in my work… this was my way of contributing to the conversation and hopefully giving something to think about.”
Mojo’s authenticity and determination certainly delivers a thought-provoking conversation. As diversity continues to be a trending topic across the music industry, is it in danger of becoming exactly that: a trend that’s lost its purpose?
“I feel like there is a real push in the music industry towards diversity,” she muses.
Everyone’s very conscious of diversity, but I think the biggest thing for me is that it needs to extend beyond programming of artists: I think it needs to extend across the board to all positions.
“I feel like it really can feel tokenistic. It can sometimes feel really uncomfortable in that way.”
In recent years, we have seen incredible talent emerge from underrepresented communities with artists like Adrian Eagle, Tkay Maidza, Miss Blanks, Kira Puru, Sampa The Great, Emily Wurramara and Genesis Owusu. The increasing representation of these communities reflects a new awareness in the music industry.
But who manages these artists? Who owns the publications that write about them? Who produces the radio programs that plays their music? The representation of people of colour and LGBTIQ+ workers is still sorely underrepresented across the music industry; where that’s on boards, in management and leadership positions, or backstage and in the studio.
“… If you’re struggling to find people of colour to employ then you need to look harder, and it needs to be reflected in every aspect of the industry, not just in the performers who are on stage.”
Mojo Juju certainly leads by example. Her upcoming national tour is partnering with PLUS1, a charity that supports Aboriginal legal services. Mojo is eager to give back to her community.
“For me it was really important that I did something that contributed to First Nations communities and I wanted it to be something that was either autonomous or was culturally appropriate.”
Mojo Juju’s tour won’t only be a fantastic way to give back – it’ll also be a real good time.
“[Audiences] can expect to have fun. I know that there’s like some pretty serious content on the record…there’s a lot of conversation to be had around the work… but I also think that I’m still here to celebrate that sort of event that happens when people play music in a room.
“I feel like there’s something really positive that occurs when people go to see live music.”
19 October -Republic Bar, Hobart
20 October – Bridge Hotel, Forth TAS
21 October – Workers Club, Geelong
27 October – Dream Festival Music and Arts, Dubbo
28 October – Dream Festival Zoocoustic, Dubbo
1 November – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
2 November – Nightquarter, Gold Coast
3 November – Imperial Hotel, Eumundi
4 November – Kingscliff Beach Hotel, Kingscliff
8 November – The Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine
9 November – Howler, Melbourne
10 November – Meeniyan Town Hall, Meeniyan
11 November – Sooki Lounge, Belgrave
15 November – JIVE, Adelaide
16 November – Jack Rabbit Slims, Perth
17 November – Mojo’s, Fremantle
22 November – Oxford Arts Factory, Sydney
23 November – Small Ballroom, Newcastle
24 November – Hotel Gearin, Katoomba
25 November – Heritage Hotel, Woollongong