Exclusive Interview With Jessica Mauboy

Exclusive Interview Jessica Mauboy tamworth

At 21, she’s had five hit singles on the ARIA’s charts and has just released her new album, Get ‘Em Girls but Jessica Mauboy still had time to sit down with QNews for an exclusive interview.

Q. Your career has really taken off. Coming from Darwin, this must be a big change for you?

Jessica. When I was growing up there was always music in my house.

I was one of five girls so the stereo was always on and CDs were always playing.

It’s so different now living in Sydney and travelling a lot and trying to look great all the time in the fabulous world.

Q. When did you discover Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston and
similar artists?

At about the age of four.

As I got older I would just belt out Mariah tunes in between the hallway and the bathroom because it had a great acoustic sound and that’s where I’d be all the time.

Everyone was always telling me to be quiet because I was always singing or humming.

Even at school I was always getting in trouble and being told to get out of class.

Q. So the transition from Darwin girl to glamour girl must have been a huge shock.  You  to the Telstra Road to Tamworth comp when you were 13 years old.

That was huge.

I mean, doing the Telstra Road to Tamworth was quite a challenge.

While competing I felt more nervous and scared than I was when I was doing Australian Idol.

Tamworth is very culturally strong with that type of music.

But my heart really wasn’t in it and what I really wanted was just to sing the belting Mariah ballads and add the pop into that.

That’s what I really wanted to do.

Q. Did you know when you type ‘Jessica Mauboy’ into YouTube, the Tamworth ‘Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun’ film clip still comes up…

Oh my goodness! I remember that.

That was the first film clip I ever made and I remember being in that room wearing a lot of pink [laughs].

I never really spoke about the Telstra Road to Tamworth or that film clip when I went back to school because I felt a little embarrassed about singing country music when all my friends were into pop and rock.

At school, I was always really quiet.

I never put my hand up in class or asked for help.

Then all of a sudden I was singing in front of hundreds of people.

All of that and being in front of the camera, I mean… I never had any media training it just came really naturally.

And then there was Idol and the Opera House. I never got to finish school.

I was just growing up really fast but I knew what I wanted.

All my friends were worried about their HSC but I was dreaming about going overseas and writing with Darkchild [Destiny’s Child songwriter] and Rodney Jerkins.

Q. Los Angeles must seem like a whole other world…

Yeah, totally a different world.

Sometimes I would cringe because these people really know their stuff and I’m just someone who wants to write music and I’m so fresh.
And there were times when I wanted to walk out because I felt like people were wasting my time.

I was working with Jazze Pha in Atlanta for the new record and he left me in the studio for a good 3 or 4 hours with his groupies and all I wanted to do was write a song.

I didn’t know any of these people in the room and I became really upset and overwhelmed. And then a songwriter came in TC who does a lot of Brandy’s stuff. We
started off talking about Australia and then we wrote a song. Then Jazze finally came back to the studio and said he hated our song and just scrapped it. I was like eff you! I just lost a lot of respect for him and I had never felt like that before. So that’s when I decided that I really have to step up my game and tell it how it is.

Q. What was the point where you realised ‘Wow, I’ve made it?

I was working with Harvey Mason, Jr. who is such a lovely man. We wrote four or five tracks in five days and I was just having a ball. He really saw the artistry in me and that I really wanted to make good music. The track ‘Here With Me’ which Harvey produced is a big song that is all about the vocals. I really just gave it all!

Q. When you were in the studio, did you have a posse? Was anyone with you?

No, I didn’t have a manager or a record label I just walked in by myself. I didn’t have anybody and when I walked into a studio I didn’t have anything written down I just went off whatever vibe I felt.

Q. And it takes about a day to write a song…

Yes, I love a quick, productive day. I just write about whatever I’m feeling.

Q. Did you write the songs on your last album?

Yes, I did but I didn’t feel as connected to it as I do with my new album.
This new album is on a more personal level and a lot of that is due to me being in control of my own sound.

Q. You have a lot of songs about love on the new album…

Yes! I love love! [laughs] I love it! The whole time I was just thinking of my family…

Q. There is nobody that you’re really in love with…?

Well, No One Like You is a track I wrote with TC in Atlanta and I was at my lowest point and I really needed a shoulder. I really wanted to see my
mum and dad and my boyfriend and just have them be in front of me. So No One Like You is for my boyfriend.

Q. So I’ve been telling people that I would be hanging out with Jessica Mauboy, and they all told me that I have to ask about your song Get Em Girls.

Well, Get Em Girls is about shoes. The whole trip [to the US] was about writing whatever I wanted and knowing that nothing sounds crap, nothing sounds silly and I just felt like writing about shoes! [laughs]

Q. How did you get Snoop Dogg on the track Get Em Girls?

There was a lot of help from the record label with getting me the producers. The producers themselves felt quite comfortable with me and I felt there was a genuine connection between me and them. I was working with [music producer] Bangladesh and he was also working with Snoop and Ludacris at the time. I really love that track and as soon as it was completed I knew that I wanted it to be the first single.

Q. The film clip is quite full-on. For an Australian to have Snoop Dogg putting his hand up your leg like that…

[Laughs] I know! From being 16 years old on Australian Idol to this, I think some people were thinking that they wanted to punch Snoop in the face and say
‘Don’t do that to our little Jess!’ [laughs]

Q. You’re involved in the PC game Sims 3 singing some songs in the Simlanguage. Apparently, there’s a language called Simlish?

Yes! There is. I haven’t really had the time to play the game yet. The Sims 3 producers actually approached me because they really liked my track Saturday Night. I didn’t actually realise I would be singing in this made-up language for the game. The Simlish language is actually Ukrainian and Singaporean mashed together. I can’t speak it but I can sing it. It was great fun.

Q. You’ve done a movie and you’re an accomplished musical artist. And now we hear you’ve done a duet with Elvis?

Yes. I did a duet with Elvis Presley – Love Me Tender.

It was great and Lisa Presley said she loved it.

She found me on YouTube and loved my vibe and rang Sony Music to organise it. They were doing this thing where they find artists from all around the world to complete duets with Elvis recordings.

Q. Thank you Jessica Mauboy for the Exclusive Interview with QNews. It was lovely to meet you.

It was my pleasure.

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Richard Bakker

Richard Bakker is the publisher of QNews Magazine, Australia's comprehensive LGBTIQA+ SB news, entertainment and lifestyle magazine. A business owner for most of his working life is now actively involved in reviving the LGBTIQA+ SB voice Australia wide through a range of print and digital media platforms. You can contact Richard on manager@qnews.com.au

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