She's been one of the darlings of Australia's indie-pop scene since the tender age of 16, but in 2011, Jess McAvoy is all grown up and has a firm plan in mind to conquer North America. And no, she insists, this time she's not running away.
"When I moved from Perth to Melbourne, to a large extent I was running away," confesses McAvoy of her relocation at the age of 19. "What I was running towards, though, was the hope of a bigger music world. I had hit a bit of a glass ceiling in Perth by that age, so it was time for me. My early time in Melbourne was a bit of a mess, and it's reflected in my music. I was also taken under the wing of a few older women who were very supportive of what I was doing. I think my talent was obvious at a really early stage so people wanted me to win. In general, the Perth music scene was so nurturing. I was lucky to start out there."
Now it's time to move on to even bigger and better pastures than even Melbourne. Following her big farewell show scheduled for June, McAvoy says she intends to fully focus on her new projects - one which sees the songstress take a whole new turn in musical direction. 'Jesmaq' fans, you're in for a surprise!
"This year started like a whirlwind," she enthuses. "I have a few projects in the works while I prepare to move to North America in June. I'm doing a few recordings and playing a massive farewell show just before I leave, so I have a few full plates. The new project I'm doing is pretty heavy so I am ramping up my exposure to bands like Rage Against The Machine, Faith No More and the likes. I listen to a vast range of music, but at the moment there is a lot of world music on my playlist too - Jordi Savall, in particular. Instrumental music is a lovely respite from the constant deconstruction that goes on in my head when listening to lyrically-driven music."
McAvoy recently put out an EP, something that select few from her fanbase would already know about. "I have more than enough material for several new albums," she says. I am just not in the right space for it yet, I feel. I put an EP together recently which has had a fairly low-key release, and I am sure there will be a few little things like that going on for a little while. I am mainly focusing on my new project and that takes a very different turn stylistically. I'm always writing new songs, though, so there are generally a few little debuts that I play live. You always get a passionate, raw 'Jesmaq' performance as per usual."
With yet another Earth Hour Unplugged session coming up this weekend at the spectacular location of the Melbourne Zoo, McAvoy says she is over the moon about sharing a set with good friend and fellow singer-songwriter Clare Bowditch.
"Clare is one of my favourite people in the world!" claims McAvoy. "I love playing shows with her. She is truly an inspiration and has been a consistent grounding factor in my career for the last 11 years here in Melbourne.
Completely DIY since the age of 16, the singer claims her independent ethic has made her stronger as a musician.
"I have been a pretty avid observer of how people interact with their creativity and the industry for the past 20 years," she states. "I can honestly say that the independent route breeds a very different style of musician."