Jess McAvoy is leaving town. The acoustic-folk singer songwriter – who has called Melbourne home since she moved here from her hometown of Perth at age nineteen – is packing up her things and relocating to the northern hemisphere. After a successful performance at the Canadian music festival North By North East in 2010, it’s to this lovely country where she will be making a new home for herself.
For Jess it was simply a case of making the big move or calling it quits. “I just went through a real hard time and actually got to that real point where I was going to stop for various reasons,” she admits. “I mean, I’ve been self-managed for such a long time it was sort of decisions I’d made throughout my career that kind of made it difficult to progress any further.”
Indeed, in Jess McAvoy’s case, it was perhaps inevitable that this day would come, although initially she thought it would be a bit sooner. “I planned to move to Melbourne from Perth and spend a year in Melbourne and then go across to America by 21,” she explains. “So it was always kind of another step – that [America] was where I’d have to head – but I think I kind of lost sight of that… I got entrenched in Melbourne and developed a big family here.”
And therein lies the dilemma. It’s all well and good to say you’re going to relocate overseas, but the reality of leaving behind friends and family is a damn tough thing to do. But for Jess, she had reached that fork in the road: in order to keep her musical career going it was the only real choice. “Realistically speaking, if I wasn’t going to go I probably would have to stop at least for a couple of years,” she admits.
“Because of the perception of that fact that I’ll always be around and you can always kinda go and see me for free on a Thursday night or something like that, that’s really dwindled my ability to fill rooms. So it’s kind of either piss off, or find something else to do here… and I can’t do anything else,” she laughs. “It’s not that scary, it’s incredibly exciting!”
She’s not wrong. It takes a lot of, er, balls, to make these sorts of life changing decisions and there’s always that fear of making the wrong one; that ever-present fear of regret. Yet often it’s when you bail out of such plans that the regret is turned around and really sets in. Besides, as Jess points out, change is exciting!
“I’m not really all that daunted at all,” she admits. “I think I make friends so easily and the music industry – in every country in the world and the people that work within it – they all seem to have the same morals and philosophies about life. So you’re always bound to find a family wherever you go.”
So as a farewell to friends and family and a big thank you to her fans, Jess McAvoy is putting on one hell of a ‘goodbye for now’ show; a celebration at one of Melbourne’s most loved venues; The Corner Hotel.
The venue will play host to a stellar lineup, many of whom will be performing duets with Jess on the night. “Yeah it’s going to be pretty mad,” she explains excitedly. “Dallas Fresca and Liz Stringer, who’re performing, all came into the rehearsal studio on Wednesday night and did their duets with me and that kind of made it really real, because I’m finalising the set now. And,” she adds, “I’m going to auction off all my paintings: I’ve always wanted to do an exhibit, so I’m doing it on the night as well.”
As for her hopes and dreams for this next chapter in her musical career, Jess is keeping it simple. “Ultimately, yeah I guess I just want to get to a position where I can happily do what I want, when I want, and how I want to do it.”
Before our chat concludes, it simply has to be asked as to what Jess will miss most about this lovely, musical hotbed city of ours? After a long pause she simply says “I think, yeah I’ll miss being Jess Mac. Things like, you know, to be able to walk into venues and people know who I am and I think I’ll miss my closest people. I’ll miss Liz Stringer, Vladivic, and Leena and Fresca; these wonderful women that have just been such constants for each other, we’ve just sort of had this ability to push each other along and keeping each other in check.”
JESS McAVOY’s huge farewell show is at The Corner Hotel – where she’ll be joined by a massive array of guests to help her out, including Liz Stringer, Wally De Backer (Gotye), Dallas Frasca, Leena and Ezekiel Ox – this Friday June 3. Tickets from cornerhotel.com, 9427 9198 and The Corner box office. JESS McAVOy’s paintings will also be on sale on the night.