Class of BIGSOUND ‘19: Jaguar Jonze

Deena wears jacket and skirt by  Kate Cunningham .  Photos by Dom Gould and James Caswell.  Styled by Sophie Kristjansson and Kate Evans.  Creative direction by Cassie Dimitroff.

Deena wears jacket and skirt by Kate Cunningham.

Photos by Dom Gould and James Caswell.

Styled by Sophie Kristjansson and Kate Evans.

Creative direction by Cassie Dimitroff.

Showcasing at BIGSOUND Festival is a huge milestone in any Australian artist’s career. But it’s potentially most significant for the local acts who watch the Valley swell to maximum capacity each year as the event kicks off, bringing music industry heavyweights in swarms. We caught up with five acts on the precipice of their showcase performances and recorded their responses in our 2019 BIGSOUND Yearbook. This is: Jaguar Jonze (aka Deena).

What are you most proud of in your career so far? 

I am most proud of my single that I released last Friday, Beijing Baby, because it really tested my character and pushed my artistry to the next level. I’m really proud of it!

What’s your relationship with Brisbane like?

Brisbane was the first city that I lived in in Australia. I was born in Japan. I’ve had little stints elsewhere, but Brisbane has always been the place I’ve come back to. We’re on a long-term, serious casual basis. 

What’s your biggest goal right now?

My biggest goal would be to play Splendour. And also do a tour. And play in Europe, and America, I guess. That’s what I would love to do. 


Who do you look up to?

I love David Lynch, and how he pushes himself as a multidisciplinary artist. And Nick Cave, because he does things away from the norm and is so confident in who he is as a person. 

Musically, I love Angel Olsen, War on Drugs, the National, Sharon Van Etten, and then old school artists like Chris Isaak and Johnny Cash. 

It’s funny, I grew up with a conservative, traditional Asian upbringing, and music wasn’t really that common in my house at all. I’m a little bit of a child in music, finding new music all the time that’s super old. I’m always saying “I’ve just found this new band! They’re called The Smiths, or Led Zeppelin, you should check them out!” And everybody’s like “Deena, come on”. I grew up basically on Celine Dion, Whitney Houston and Bryan Adams. 

What scares you?

I’m pretty open with my mental health: I have PTSD. Certain things can trigger it, so when that happens, I am scared of a lot of things. It can be as simple as darkness, or a closed room, or people in the kitchen using knives. But I’m also pretty fearless. Sometimes people just can’t wrap their heads around me, because I ride motorbikes and push myself to do kind-of scary things, but I can be scared of something as simple as the dark. 

What do you think is your biggest strength?
Probably my stubbornness. Even if things don’t go my way, I’m just like: 

“It will. I’m telling you: sit down, Fate”.

Jaguar Jonze GUM-8.jpg

What’s a lesson you’ve learnt as a musician so far? 

I used to be so bogged down by shame and insecurity that I didn’t realise I was putting a cap on my creative output. 

Who’s in your clique?

If I’m to spend time with people, it would be individually. My guitarist, Jo, is my #1 bestie, because we’ve been friends since we were 11, and we’ve grown a lot together as humans. 

Style Icon: 

Everyone walking around Tokyo! 

3 songs on a mixtape Deena’s sending to her best friend:

Lizzo – Truth Hurts

Rosaria - Malamente

Britney Spears – …Baby One More Time

Senior Quote:

“You define your own success.”

Check out Jaguar Jonze’s BIGSOUND profile here.

Aleisha McLaren