What made you want to step up for Eurovision - Australia Decides 2020?
“I think it's because I used to try to take myself, quite seriously. I wanted to be a serious artist but, I don't even know what that means anymore because as I've come into my own a bit more, I realise that I'm the opposite of a serious person. I'm a very playful person who laughs a lot and all the time and doesn't treat their own reputation seriously. And when I say that, I mean that I respect my reputation, but at the same time, I can have fun and know it all doesn't really mean anything in the cosmic balance.
“When I was 15, I was really into Eurovison, but then I got to 19 and thought, ‘Oh, it’s lame, whatever’; there was a bunch of friends early on my career, as well, that were like, ‘We would love to see Montaigne at Eurovision’. I was like, ‘No, why would you think I'd want to?’
“Now, when I contemplate Eurovision I'm like, ‘Oh no. I like the campiness, and I like the idea of one musician/performer in all of the country representing that country and doing it on such a huge scale with such huge production and a sense of humour.
“I have had to be to prove myself as a female musician, and I've had to be very musical and technically skilled and make music that is technically interesting and stuff like that. But now I've gotten to the point where I’m like, ‘Oh no, that doesn't mean anything in the grand scheme of things. If I just make music that I like and that other people like no matter how many fucking F-sharp minor keys there are in my song, it's good! And as long as I'm having fun and I'm enjoying myself and other people are doing that too, I think that's good. I went through a full paradigmatic evolution and in order to be the kind of person who wanted to do this.
“I also think that Kate [Miller-Heidke] really set a pretty great precedent in the sense that she has indie blood, right? Obviously she was and is very commercially successful, but she's also a classically trained singer who's involved in plays and opera, and she has a really unique voice.
“[Kate] went up there and did this amazing Princess Elsa from Frozen opera. It was sick. I was like, ‘Fuck yeah! That's like absolutely amazing, I'd love to do that’.”
So tell us about your song, 'Don’t Break Me’
“One of the many things you have to take into consideration when you're writing a Eurovison track is that it has a particular aesthetic. You can't just write a pop song and I can't also just write a Montaigne song. It needs to be this fusion of bombastic, over the top camp Eurovision style and it also needs to be my flavour. Something that still feels like me and it feels like a unique original performance.”
Can you give us some hints about the staging, and how you'll perform the song? It's Eurovision, after all...
“Yeah, it's me and five dancers, all women, and it's basically just a dance routine, but I'm involved in the dancing as well as singing, which is the element of risk, I think in the whole thing. Because I have a face mic on, which means I have to try to consume light breaths. And if I'm really moving about, I'm going to want to breathe as well as because of singing. Also, the visuals behind us are really cool. I don't know how to even describe it. It's like all fairly abstract kind of stuff, but it's quite dramatic.
“When write a song, what I value is, what are your triggers for physical movement? So the final editing touches we put on the song were me going back in the studio and asking, how do we make this more ‘Montaigne-ish’? And all it was, were the bits that were like [dances] ‘Boom, boom’. Because I know in those moments that's a moment for me to move. The whole routine tries to capitalise on like those hits. So it's about dynamic movement.”
If Australia decides that it's you on Saturday night, what would representing Australia at the Eurovision Song Contest mean to you?
“It feels like music's World Cup, right? And I mean that's pretty sick to be able to represent your country, your whole entire country at a worldwide level and participate in performance. That's cool. I think that's pretty special.
“It's hard to really put words to it because it's such a big thing. Even now, just the fanatical attention the song and each performance is getting before it's even happened is quite incredible. It's not anything I've ever witnessed or received before. Not to say I don't have also very dedicated fans but just the level. I mean, the culture of reaction videos?! I find that so amazing. I think, because it's just an energy I do not function on, I couldn't myself produce one of those videos but I so admire people who do carry that amount of adoration to be able to just extol the fricking every single beat of a song. That's quite incredible. But yeah, going to Eurovison would just be cool and a bit of a bragging right!
“I would love at the end of my life to be able to be like, Hey, I did Eurovision and I placed in Eurovision.
“When I was 15, I was really into Eurovison, before I got to like 19 and I was, ‘Oh, it’s lame, whatever’. 15 year old me would never have thought I would be in Eurovison, ever. So, to be able to accomplish the impossible now would be sick!”
Watch the Live TV Final at 8.30pm AEDT on SBS and On Demand tomorrow and cast your vote. Stay tuned to the SBS Eurovision website for updates: sbs.com.au/Eurovision