First it was Beyonce that got blown away by our very own Queen Of R n’ B and now it’s Chris Brown that’s about to witness for himself why Jessica Mauboy is a superstar in her own right. As a former Australian Idol contestant and 2006 runner up, it’s safe to say a lot has happened for the girl from the Aussie outback in the last five years – last year’s gold-certified sophomore album Get ‘Em Girls serving as solid proof of that.
“The biggest issue that we have in Australia is that we’re not together or united in the R n’ B scene,” points out Mauboy. “When you release something that’s R n’ B, people are like, ‘Oh, you sound so American’! But I think the key is that all music is the same, everybody is remaking something else, just look at the popularity of sampling! We should be more united and not trying to set other people aside or label them, nobody should be left out. I used to be quite disappointed with R n’ B coming out of Australia because people just didn’t believe in it. That made me want to do it even more.”
Yes, it was definitely a big factor behind the reason for Mauboy to temporarily relocate to Los Angeles when it came to recording Get ‘Em Girls. And while it was the experience of a lifetime, according to singer, it also reinforced just how much she felt at home back in Australia. “I went to the ‘States to work with people who live and breathe R n’ B,” she explains. “I don’t think I could live there though because it’s very glitzy and fabulous! My land is very tribal, we grew up telling dreamtime stories and I came from a small community. Apart from growing up on country music, I grew up with heaps of hip-hop and R n’ B because of my older sisters who loved Tupac and Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. I knew that I could actually sing a bit of it and that I could pull off the soul kind of R n’ B, but I saw so many Australian artists trying to break through in the genre and it just really disappointed me. I felt I had to take it to another level in order to really pull it off properly and that’s why I went to work with these big R n’ B producers in the States.”
Enlisting the help of big-name collaborators like producer Bangladesh and rapper Snoop Dogg among many others, Mauboy definitely went all out. Following on from singles Get ‘Em Girls featuring Snoop Dogg, and Saturday Night, featuring Ludacris, Mauboy is currently celebrating the success of her third hit with U.K. rapper Jay Sean, What Happened To Us… Yep, it seems everybody wants to get in on the action, with Chris Brown being Mauboy’s latest fan.
“Apparently Chris heard my stuff about a month ago and really wanted me on the tour,” she enthuses. “I’m putting together a band for my set, so it’s going to be a very different show this time. Last time it was just tracks with dancers so now it’s a big eight-piece band. I wanted it to be more live because, you know, I’m not really a dancer, I’m a singer first and foremost. I’m a little bit nervous but I think I was more nervous when I met Snoop Dogg! I was really surprised at how intelligent of a man he is and he’s so business-like! He likes to set it straight and he’s very real – basically he is the total opposite of what people perceive him to be. He can come across as sleazy in his music or videos, but he’s got a few kids and he’s very professional and he doesn’t mess around.”
Jessica Mauboy [AUS] plays with Chris Brown [USA] on Saturday April 23 at Rod Laver Arena.