Pittsburgh is not a glamorous city and the Pittsburgh Pirates aren't what you'd call a glamorous baseball team. But the Bucs, as they are affectionally known in the working class steel town, play with passion and grit. Brisbane may be a very long home run from Pittsburgh but it makes sense that Jesswar is decked out in a sweet Pirates hat and shirt combo in the video for her new track "Savage".
Like the Bucs, the young Brisbane MC plays with a resolve and toughness and on "Savage" spits some mean and upfront bars. Having grown up on the Gold Coast, the 20 year-old moved to Brisbane earlier this year where along with performers such as Miss Blanks (who appears in her video, is helping Brisbane stand up on the Australian hip-hop map. With a new six track EP on the horizon and an appearance hosting A Weekend in the Gardens the summer is looking hot for Jesswar.
We sent her some questions to find out more about her music.
Noisey: “I’m a savage, I’m a cunt”. The opening line doesn't mess around.
Jesswar: I wasn't trying to be subtle. I believe the lyrics are exactly that, savage. Being Fijian my people were portrayed as 'savages' so using that term was definitely thought out in reclaiming that terminology and more like a war call. I feel confident that I've been working hard a for a long time so I wanted to come out with the ferocious nature that has helped me get to this point. Using the word cunt is important to, this is another word I'm reclaiming and embracing. This industry is brutal as a woman so being resilient and tougher than the next dude is necessary to succeed. So yeah it's provocative as it was intended.
It’s pretty dark track and video. Was that your intention?
It was made to be staunch, not necessarily dark. As a woman, if you run your mouth and write vicious lyrics people are still shocked. It doesn't matter how long we've been doing it for we get interrogated as to why we think that way. I made the clip to reflect the strength that I feel when I play this song live. So the crew in e clip are all talented, tough women from Brisbane and literally every one of them has a strong creative practice in their own right so it was more like shooting us as we are.
How much does your Fijian heritage affect your approach or style?
I feel connected to my people and always want to make them proud so I work harder and longer every time I perform to keep pushing for my community. There is also a strength and connection that comes with your mob. It's always amazing looking and seeing familiar faces in the crowd. It makes me want to blow the roof off for them.
That’s a sweet Pittsburgh Pirate hat and shirt combo you got. Do you like sports? Who are your teams?
I dig all sports especially if I can watch it live. But my basketball teams are the the Brisbane Bullets, Golden State Warriors, the Bulls and the San Antonio Spurs. For baseball it's obviously the Pirates, White Sox and Dodgers. I'm pretty into most competitive sports so I'd also happily watch the NRL and boxing too.