As soon as she finished her last HSC exam in Dubbo, musician Mojo Juju says she headed straight to Melbourne and threw herself into the local music scene without hesitation.
“I knew what I wanted and I threw caution to the wind,” she said.
“I wanted it and I felt like it was the right thing for me. I thought, well, maybe it’s better not to give myself an option, I’ve just got to go for it.”
Mojo Ruiz de Luzuriaga is about to release her third studio album Native Tongue. Juju said it was her story of feeling like an outsider and learning to take ownership of her identity.
“I was always an outsider and it was definitely a difficult time growing up in the ‘90s in Dubbo when I was the only queer person I knew at school, and openly so at the time. There was a lot of racial tensions and I definitely felt like a minority,” she said.
“For a long time I didn’t want to be different. I wanted to make music and I didn’t want to talk about race or sexuality or gender or any of that. I just wanted to talk about music and make music and then I realised it doesn’t really matter where you go people still hold these prejudices. It eventually got to the stage where I thought ‘okay, this is something we need to talk about’.”
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Juju said as she became more successful, she realised she could be a positive role model for those going through similar experiences.
“That’s probably one of the most rewarding things knowing that other people relate to what you’re doing and that they’re inspired by that somehow. At the same time I never really intended to be a spokesperson on behalf of anyone else I’m only talking about my own experience but I kind of had a sense that those experiences were common,” she said.
Despite being her third studio album, Juju said it felt like a milestone.
“I’ve allowed myself to be more vulnerable in my work than I have before, I’ve exposed more of myself and it’s quite liberating,” she said.
With sold out shows and standing ovations almost a regular occurrence now, Juju said sometimes she had to remind herself this is what she wanted.
“When you’re in the midst of it all you sometimes forget to stop and enjoy it and think ‘this is what I’ve been working towards and now it’s finally happening’,” she said.
“It’s a lot of work and it’s constant. Some days it can be an overwhelming amount of work, it’s not always the rock n roll dream but every now and again I stop and go ‘wow, we just did that’.”
However, there’s no giving it up.
“I don’t know what else I would do. It’s as much habit as it is anything else. It’s my passion,” she said.