Unwrapped: Jaguar Jonze ft. Shungundzo – WHO DIED AND MADE YOU KING?

Photo: She Is Aphrodite

We got to chat with Jaguar Jonze about the powerful and emphatic statement that is ‘WHO DIED AND MADE YOU KING?’

Taiwanese-Australian multimedia artist Deena Lynch is rapidly establishing herself an absurdly talented artist in a wide range of fields. From her narrative illustration project Spectator Jonze, to the gender-subverting photography project Dusky Jonze, to her empowering singer-songwriter work as Jaguar Jonze, the shape-shifting, endlessly creative artist is truly a generational performer who is more than happy to shake up the status quo and make fierce and important statements with her work. The latest example being the reworking of her anthemic, empowering release ‘WHO DIED AND MADE YOU KING?’, which now features a feature from Zimbabwe-raised, Los Angeles-based activist and poet Shugundzo.

The track feels like a cathartic and emphatic release from two artists that have spent enough time dealing with and witnessing injustice and mistreatment in their respective music scenes. The track is flooded with an intense sense of power as defiant and cutting lyrics butcher through the powers that be, and declare in no uncertain terms that change is coming. We had a chat with Jaguar Jonze about such an important track and what the thoughts behind it were.

We love your new single ‘WHO DIED AND MADE YOU KING?’, what is the story behind it?

For so long, I had to put my artistry aside to prioritize my advocacy of creating a safer workplace for women and vulnerable people in the music industry. WHO DIED AND MADE YOU KING? became a moment where I allowed myself to feel the anger I deserved to feel directed to those who abuse power and take it without consent. I decided that it was time to use my artistry to amplify my advocacy. This song just spat out of me in a day, as if it had been writing itself.

What was the process like putting it together?

Scary. Really, really scary. Because it samples a speech from a certain ex-CEO of Sony Music Australia, I wasn’t sure what risk I’d be taking for a lawsuit. Many told me not to do it, but in the end, I wanted to take my advocacy to a new level, one where I was unbounded by fear and allowing other people to make me feel small and to say less. It was time to fearlessly speak my truth.

‘WHO DIED AND MADE YOU KING’ has close ties to the #MeToo movement, what does the movement mean to you as an artist?

It means more to me as a survivor to feel heard and means a lot to me as an artist to hopefully one day be able to work safely in my workplace in the music industry. We all deserve that safety.

What was the idea behind the excellent reworking of the track with Shungudzo?

Shungudzo and I have been on each other’s radars for some time, and people have told us both forever that we need to meet and work together. Even without a meeting, we realized that we’ve had similar experiences and shared values regarding how we balance our artistry and our advocacy. It made for an organic and authentic collaboration; it felt like it was fate.

What else do you have planned for the near future?

I’ve just finished another single that I’ll be kickstarting 2022 with and then diving deep into Eurovision world as I compete in the final for Eurovision: Australia Decides. I’m so excited for this one as I put so much into writing the song to reflect on my last 2 years fighting the #metoo movement in Australia. It’s my most vulnerable, but I now have the strength to share it.