March the 8th is International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate and highlight the valuable contributions women make to our world. One day is not enough, so this is part of a month-long series of posts celebrating female artists from Australia.
Today is the final post in a series of 31 interviews. I am incredibly excited to finish it with a bang, introducing today’s feature artist, Jess McAvoy, a prolific singer-songwriter and performer who has self-funded 13 records. She didn’t mention it in her interview, but she also writes and paints. I first met Jess at the Big Hearted Business Conference in Melbourne last year, and was blown away by her steady presence, and her immediate willingness to connect openly, honestly and vulnerably about things that really matter.
At that time, she was about to perform her first shows as the front woman of her new, seriously heavy rock and roll band, “HEROiNE”, and then jump on a plane to New York. (At the time she was best known for her quieter, acoustic style songs.) She was a bit nervous but the image that stuck with me was her steady light, and her willingness to dive in through the fear to see what was on the other side.
1. What art do you make?
I make music. I also make impressions on people. I would say that a big part of my creative output is interacting with all kinds of people. My main drive that has let me do this over the last twenty years has been music.
2. What is one of your proudest achievements as an artist?
I think being awarded an o-1 artist visa for the USA has been a big one. It’s entirely based on my achievements as an artist in Australia and the title of the visa category is Alien of Extraordinary Ability. I have done so much in my career that I think it’s a nice way to put it in a neat little package, and it means that I get to live in New York!
3. What has been a challenge recently, and how did you overcome it?
Lately I have been feeling like I have nothing left to say with my music. I think the biggest challenge when you have been working in such an unpredictable industry such as this for as long as I have is that problems that you have encountered before take on different shapes. It’s as if they learn to trick you into being as scared as you were in younger years when you first came across the problem, by taking on more adult tactics.
In New York I am surrounded by people who are really struggling to survive and it makes me feel that my art is trivial.
I’ve never been a political or protest writer so it’s a challenge to find a voice within myself that rides the things I really care about.
To overcome it, I’m free-styling a few times a week to get the words in line – to really stream of consciousness myself into understanding what I want to say. We’ll see what comes.
4. What are you most excited by creatively right now?
I have a monthly residency at a very iconic venue in Manhattan at the moment. My excitement centres mostly around presenting a really strong and constantly evolving performance each month. I’m enjoying pushing myself as a performer.
5. What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given about growing your career as an artist?
That there is an audience for everyone, so don’t worry how many fans other people have, just understand you will connect with the people you are meant to connect with.
There’s room for everyone.
6. Where can we find your work and connect with you?
Every second tuesday of the month at 9pm EST I will be performing at the Bitter End which is streamed live from bitterend.com.
My next show is on April 14 in New York – which is April 15 in AU, at noon Melbourne time.
Note from Rose – definitely check out Jess’ blog, too! It’s beautiful, creative, and sometimes raw. A treasure trove of writing: jessmcavoy.com/blog
(Photo credits in order of appearance: Sean Ryan and Shot x Dan.)
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You might also enjoy:
- Celebrating female artists: Introducing Malia Walsh, theatre & circus artist
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- Celebrating female artists: Introducing Xanthea O’Connor, living statue, musician & arts manager