28 year-old Deena Lynch was born in Japan to a Taiwanese mother and an Australian father. She grew up in Brisbane, Queensland and in 2018 released her first single ‘You Got Left Behind’ under the moniker Jaguar Jonze. Two further singles followed in 2019, entitled ‘Beijing Baby’ and ‘Kill Me With Your Love’, and late last year, she was announced as one of ten candidates competing for the golden ticket to represent Australia at Eurovision in Rotterdam this year with her song ‘Rabbit Hole’, which has caused a stir amongst the Euro vision fandom since it was released last week.
We sat down for a cosy chat with her to find out all about her, the meaning behind her Eurovision song, what makes her tick, what that crazy video is all about, and just how many syllables she can fit into one word…
Hi Jaguar, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us, I really appreciate it. I can only imagine how CRAZY things are for you at the moment, this week. By the way, I just found out your surname is Lynch, and your mum is called Reena. That’s two things we have in common!
Wait, what?! Your mum’s name is Reena?!? I’ve never met another Reena. She got that name from when I was playing Pokemon on Gameboy Color and I had caught a Nidorina haha. Lynch is kinda inescapable haha. 😛 Nice to meet you.
Firstly, how has your day been? What have you been up to so far?
I’ve spent the day doing radio interviews so far and now knuckling down to do this one after feeding myself a plate of dumplings, so you’ve caught me in a well-fed moment (which means, vvv happy).
So, for those of our readers who don’t know you, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a visual artist/musician and I go by monikers Jaguar Jonze for my music, Spectator Jonze for my visual art and Dusky Jonze for my photography. They all kind of co-exist but have very separate identities from each other so deserved their own little worlds.
So how did Deena Lynch become Jaguar Jonze? Where did the name come from?
It was an alter-ego name from friends and fans as I was such a contrast on-stage and off-stage. Then when I was thinking about names to call my music, I really liked that the name was given to me, it meant something to me and it encapsulated the vision of my music so well — so I went with it.
From the moment I heard ‘Rabbit Hole’ it I was transfixed, it’s got something that draws you right into Jaguar Jonze’s world. I know you recently did an interview for an Australian newspaper about the story behind it, but for our international readers. Can you tell us a little bit about the meaning of the song?
Rabbit Hole, is a personal one about my struggles with C-PTSD. I’ve had it for over 20 years but have only really faced it within the last 3 years. It’s different for everyone who struggles with it but for me, when I have my PTSD episodes, I enter what I call a ‘bunny mode’ and Rabbit Hole as a song was an exploration of that bunny mode. It was me trying to grow awareness of it, define it and come to terms with how I’m going to better myself from here.
It seems that you really use your own personal life, situations and feelings to create your music, is this something that is really important to you?
100%. Music wasn’t really something I was exposed to or passionate about until it became a form of catharsis for me much later on in life. Once I discovered how much dialogue and healing I can gain from creation in art and music, it became an integral part of my life. Well, it’s the focus of my life now.
Musical heroes? I can hear a bit of a Portishead influence in your music?
Portishead tick tick tick. Jeff Buckley, Johnny Cash, Chris Isaak, Angel Olsen, Nick Cave.
Let’s talk the video. It’s quite the visual feast. Did the idea for this come from you?
Yeah. I wanted to visually recreate my ‘bunny mode’ and capture the anxiety, distress, fear, paranoia, identity crisis and confusion that comes from that state. I wanted it to be simple, because it happens in my everyday space like the confines of a simple, small room. Then, I took it to my talented friend and director Ribal Hosn and we fleshed the idea out together, he roped in his amazing friend and set designer Joshua Jasper and he literally built the room on top of Ribal’s living room.
So, let’s chat Eurovision. How did Australia Decides come about? Did SBS contact you, or did you send the song in for consideration?
SBS contacted me, I was a wildcard and last minute entrant. It all happened literally the day before announcement and it just seems like a whirlwind since then.
You are such a visual performer. I know you must be sworn to secrecy about your performance on Saturday but can you describe to us in one word what we should expect?
Check-out-the-music-video-for-a-good-hint, that was one word right?
Australia are rather new to competing in Eurovision but it has been a TV staple there for many years. How did you first discover Eurovision, and is it something you have watched before? Do you have a favourite Australian and non-Australian Eurovision song?
It’s not something that I’ve ever dug into but I definitely have watched a lot of performances from it over the years. It’s such a classic answer but I have to say Dami Im and Conchita Wurst have always left an impression from their performances. The conviction and the power in both of their performances is just jaw-droppingly memorable.
What would it mean to you to represent Australia on such a massive platform?
I would be so happy for any one of us to represent Australia, as everyone is so talented in their own ways. For me, I would just feel honoured that Australia trusts in my artistry and what I’m passionate about.
Outside of Australia Decides and Eurovision, what’s next in store for you? Can we expect any new music or gigs? Any thoughts about coming over to Europe?
YES. Really want to get over to Europe as soon as I can. I’ve only been ONCE and that was 8 years ago, and I just did the whole speed date Europe thing by backpacking each place for 2-3 days then going to the next place. So I’d really love to get over there to explore the culture, the architecture and the food — and to be able to share my music and art too.
Let’s put music aside for a moment — here’s a couple of quick fire questions:
Favourite Book: Illusions by Richard Bach
Favourite Movie: I was going to say any Guy Ritchie movie but you know, I actually think I have to go with White Chicks because these days when I get time to watch a movie, I just need a good laugh and it’s done that for me since I was in high school. It’s the only movie my memory can pull quotes from hahahaha.
Favourite TV Show: Sex & The City. Say whatever, but underneath the glitz and glamour it is some clever script writing. You can choose your level of mental investment on any day because it’s crafted in a way you can just enjoy the short term episode-specific storyline or the overarching arc.
Last song you listened to: Waltz #2 (XO) – Elliott Smith
Last thing you ate and drank: Haha we’re back to this. Dumplings with oolong tea.
Last person you sent a Whats App message to: Oh gosh, we don’t really use WhatsApp so much here so I use it to connect with my international friends. I was just checking in on my good friend Michael who lives in China, to make sure him and his family in Shenzhen was unaffected by the virus debacle going on.
Finally, have you got a message for our ESCBubble readers and fans out there?
I am honestly super grateful and humbled by the support everyone has generously given to me for ‘Rabbit Hole’. It means a lot to me that the song connects and that all the hard work is always worth it. Thank you so much.
Australia Decides is on Saturday 8 February 2020 on SBS at 1030 CET.
To keep up with all the latest news on Jaguar Jonze, make sure you follow her on her official Facebook page, on Twitter, as well as on Instagram, and you can also check out her official website. And if Jaguar Jonze is your personal favorite in Eurovision: Australia Decides, make sure you cast your vote for her in our poll right here: