Jaguar Jonze makes music for the moment of implosion. There’s no delay, there’s no need for it. Her music constantly occupies two spaces: one calling us in, lulling with its majestic, eternally frank beauty, the second unafraid to cut us right down to the quick, harshly slicing into our most vulnerable thoughts and feelings. The Taiwanese-Australian singer-songwriter, real name Deena Lynch, also dives directly towards her identity, paying homage to her background while also bucking Asian stereotypes throughout the fantastical cyberpunk world she’s created around Jonze.
Her sophomore EP ANTIHERO, out today, is a testament to her vision and unrelenting tenacity. In March 2020, Deena contracted COVID-19, and because of her industrious nature and love for making music,she continued to record the vocals for the EP while in hospital care. Hospitalized for 40 days, Deena says, “I had a fever for five weeks straight, and excruciating chest pains, and the music industry was completely decimated. For weeks I had no voice; I couldn’t sing, and for months I couldn’t stand up or walk for too long. My mental health suffered.”
The five-track EP plays like a long overdue reply to everyone who’s ever taken you for granted. On it, Jaguar Jonze takes on the role of the dominant avenger, taking everyone and anyone, who deserves it to task. She says it herself on, “DEADALIVE,” quite acerbically: “Like you’ve never been hurt…”With propelling drums and fuzzy, steadily swirling guitars backing her, the song proves a retort to any notion of giving into the endless churn of boredom. “MURDER,”in spite of its title, is far more subtle, with a soothing, mesmerizing riff that leads us deeper into her head, while lyrically she expresses rejection of the typical patriarchal expectations.
“TESSELLATIONS” opens things up with a glancing blow. Buzzing electronic elements and click-clacking percussion providing a perfect backdrop for some of the bluntest, most vulnerable songwriting Jonze has to offer. It’s a song with no right answer, and she knows it, sharing: “It’s knowing that we can’t erase the past, but we continue to try for the other person, to ask them to put their defenses down and work together on one side.” Today, Deena also shares the music video for the track, which subverts the femme fatale archetype and proves that Jaguar Jonze. Did. Not. Come. To. Play. “I binge-watched so much anime during my COVID-19 recovery time, escaping into the genius worlds of influential anime directors like Mamoru Oshii and Satoshi Kon. It only seemed natural that they fed into the visual narrative around the ‘TESSELLATIONS’ video and the EP as a whole.”” The sweltering “CURLEDIN“presents all her best qualities at its outset. From the track’s rip-roaring, slicing guitar to her perfectly forceful, omnipresent vocals, “CURLED IN” is a pure cathartic release.
“Tear me apart, just tear me apart,” she all but demands: “I’ve never seen wrong be done right.” She’s fulfilling her simplest needs, and it’s freeing. “It’s a bit of a twist for me to be a masochist.” As a survivor of abuse, these words’ unafraid power is all too apparent and an engaging statement to hear expressed. Wrapping things up, “ASTRONAUT” fully takes us into space, with its patient, throbbing guitar and distant, echoing drums. At last, she’s escaping her pain, and so long as we’re listening, it feels like we just might make it out, too.Ever the determined emotional multi tasker, Deena also continues to nurture Jaguar Jonze’s adjacent projects: her narrative illustration project Spectator Jonze and her male gaze-subverting photography project Dusky Jonze. Combined with the music she makes as Jaguar Jonze and especially on the ANTIHERO EP, these three facets come together as a whole expression of Deena’s most intimate vulnerabilities and traumas, while also empowering those around her to do the same.
Check out Jaguar Jonze’s website to find out more!