Hard hitting songstress Mojo Juju is one of the artists on the top shelf lineup at this year’s Blues & BBQ Festival. FOCUS caught up with her between gigs for a chat about her newly released album and what we can look forward to at her gig on April 9….
Tell us a bit about your musical background; where did it all begin for you?
I’m pretty sure I came out wailin’ when I was born.
I grew up in a musical household, so there was no escaping it, really; I just had to pick an instrument.
How would you describe your musical style?
I think I’d try really hard not to describe my musical “style”.
I don’t really like the idea of being boxed into a genre.
I love too many different genres, and too many different artists have inspired me – I’m very aware that there are certain kinds of nostalgic throwbacks in my music.
Every time I make an album people wanna call it a different thing or describe me as a “blues artist” or a “soul singer” or link it to Jazz or RnB … Whatever it is that they connect with in the music. And it’s true. Those things are all in there. Those genres have all influenced me … Along with a lot of other stuff like Hip Hop and Funk and even country music.
BUT my aim is to just do my own thing, experiment and challenge myself always, and hopefully one day people won’t have to ask me what style of music I play.
Hopefully one day people will just hear music and know straight up, “that sounds like Mojo Juju”.
You’ve got an impressive catalogue of records to date, with your most recent released in July last year. Talk us through the vibe of your latest album and how your music has evolved …
The last record I made was Seeing Red / Feeling Blue. I worked with an amazing producer, Ptero Stylus. We are old friends and had been talking about working on something together for years. He has mostly worked on hip hop albums and when I started to write songs for the album, I realised it was going to be very different to the one before it.
I felt like the best way to serve these songs was by bringing them to someone who could really understand the cross over and relationship between things like soul/funk/rnb and hip hop. Not that the album is strictly any of those things, but there were flavours of all of it all over the record. In some ways I guess I wanted to work with someone who wasn’t afraid of pop music. And I feel like Stylus and I brought all of our (vastly different) experiences and met in the middle. It was really fun writing with him and hearing my ideas evolve into totally different songs than I could have made on my own.
We brought in a lot of really great musicians on this record, and I think that is always key. The feel of an album has so much to do with the players. I’m lucky I’ve always worked with great musicians. And we really found the perfect players for this album.
Making albums is a really collaborative process, and I feel like more than ever I was able to let go and just trust everyone was really on the same page.
Your music has been used as a soundtrack to a German film. What is the film about, and how did your music set the scene?
Well, the film is called Bestefreunde. It’s about these two best friends, when one of them gets into a serious relationship, the other starts to feel like they are being left behind …
It’s kind of a complicated love story, I guess.
The director was in particular a big fan of the Snake Oil Merchants, my old band, and initially wanted to use a bunch of that back catalogue, which they did, but also I think there were a lot of songs from my first solo album that really made sense with the film. I think I wrote a lot of complicated love songs ha ha ha.
The Snake Oil Merchants; we were really a bunch of best friends who spent a lot of time on the road together, so I think you can hear the ups and downs of friendship in the music maybe?
I’m also a really visual person … When I write I always have pictures running through my head. I think I always write with a cinematic kind of feeling. At least, I try to.
I think my music has been used in a few things, but the is the first full length film to ever use my music for an entire soundtrack ha ha.
When it comes to writing, what inspires you?
Everything, really. But people mainly. And travelling. But really it’s observing other people, and being introspective. It’s like solving riddles … Or trying to, at least.
They’re not always true stories, but the sentiment, the feeling, whatever is at the core of it is truth. The details may change, because it’s a creative space, right? It’s for my imagination.
We’re excited to have you on the lineup for our Blues & BBQ festival in Port Macquarie this year. What do you love most about the BBQ culture?
I love cooking; I love summer. BBQ really brings these things together, right? It’s also about bringing people together. BBQ isn’t something you do on your own; it’s always with family, friends, community. So yeah, it’s only ever a good thing.
Who will you be bringing along to this gig to accompany you?
I’m coming up with my brother, Steve … We call him T-bone, ‘cause the first solid food he ever ate was a T-bone steak. He’s gonna love the BBQ part ha ha. But he’s also coming up to play drums. We work together a lot as a duo or in the band. He’s my right hand man.
Any parting words you’d like to share with our readers?
Watch out! We’re coming for ya!
Catch Mojo Juju at the Blues & BBQ Festival 2 APRIL 2016, 2PM – 9PM.
Town Green, Port Macquarie.
Earlybird tickets $45 Plus Booking fee, Camping $10 per person