After the success of Glorious Heights, Montaigne is busy creating her next masterpiece: "My ambitions are big."
2016 was a pivotal moment in Jess Cerro's career. Releasing her debut album Glorious Heights - which peaked at number four on the Australian charts - touring the album, and going on to win an ARIA Award for Best Breakthrough Artist, the artist known as Montaigne had made her mark on Australia.
"It was a strong start," recalls Jess in a phone call to Music Love on a rainy Monday earlier this month, "but also, one I want to carry on to, you know 'create my own legacy' - please put that in air quotations!" She laughs. Despite the self deprecation, Jess is focused on making sure her next move packs even more of a punch.
"I want to have an internationally successful career, and I need one song that will take me across the line and that's always difficult 'cause you never know which one is gonna be it." She knows there's a tension between making meaningful work and creating something that resonates with the public. "I still just write music that I like, that I feel, and that is important to me, but you still have to take that into consideration to an extent depending on your ambitions - and my ambitions are big."
While she opted not to attend the ARIA Awards this year, Jess watched it on television thinking about how strange it was that she hadn't released any new music this year because she has been songwriting like no-one's business. Jess has spent time in Los Angeles, doing a bunch of co-writes with writers and producers including Tony Buchan who produced Glorious Heights, as well as others, and has emerged with an armful of new tunes. "I actually have so much music, so now it's about picking and arranging and putting it in order for the album."
Exactly what we can expect remains a mystery, but one can imagine it will be an extension of her art/alt-pop brand. As far as soaking up music from other artists goes, Jess has been listening, as she always has done, to many artists - and she speaks of each onewith the affection of the dedicated music fan she is. "I slip into something new everyday." She rattles off her list which overflows with pop and alt pop names. Bjork ("enriching"), Feist ("I saw her play last night [at the Sydney Opera House], and it was pretty special dude. She played for two and a half hours!"), Lorde ("Lorde forever. I've listened to Melodrama sooooo many times this year"), Vera Blue ("I loooooove Celia. She has a very good voice, and is a very good songwriter), and of course Arcade Fire ("My number one band of all time.")
She has big shoes to fill - even if they are her own - and her new album sounds like it is shaping up to be another pearler.
Follow Montaigne on Instagram @actualmontaigne