Culture

Mojo Juju Has Written A ‘Love Letter’ To Andrew Bolt After His Rant About Her New Album

The word 'love' is used pretty loosely here.

Mojo Juju and Andrew Bolt

Taking the adage ‘kill ’em with kindness’ to the next level, Mojo Juju has responded with a ‘love letter’ to Andrew Bolt, after the conservative commentator gave her a not-so-nice shout out.

In a post earlier this month, Bolt quoted lyrics from the title track of Mojo Juju’s new album, Native Tongue, while defending Scott Morrison’s (fairly international) ‘Oz Music’ playlist on Spotify.

For context, the Prime Minister’s Spotify playlists are one prong of the PM’s attempt to brand himself as A Very Normal, Fair Dinkum Bloke, which hasn’t been going too well. This local jams playlist, for example, was created after the PM copped criticism for a favourite songs list that featured one Australian song (Wa Wa Nee’s 1986 hit ‘Stimulation’).

But then, people noticed this playlist was representing one particular type of Australia: in an article called “Why Scott Morrison’s white, male playlists matter” for The Conversation, Catherine Strong pointed out this playlist almost exclusively featured white male artists from the ’70s and ’80s, with only one (Canadian?) woman making the cut.

Strong references a slew of songs and artists that Morrison listen to, Mojo Juju among them. Released earlier this year, Native Tongue interrogates Mojo’s place in Australian society as a queer woman of colour with Filipino and Wiradjuri ancestry.

Its stunning title track spells out a sense of displacement, as being unable to feel completely at home in any one world. “My great granddaddy was Wiradjuri/ My father came here from the Philippine/ It’s where I live, it’s where I wanna be/ But you make me feel so ill at ease”, she sings, backed by the Pasefika Vitoria Choir.

In her article, Strong suggests Morrison listen to the song as an entry-way to listen to other perspectives. Bolt thought this idea — to use art to foster empathy — was simply identity politics gone too far.

“Seriously? Morrison is meant to bop in his car to a song complaining about being an Aboriginal who “doesn’t speak my father’s tongue”?,” wrote Bolt, referencing ‘Native Tongues”s lyrics. “Is music listening a political activity or an aesthetic one? Should we listen out of pity or for our pleasure?”

Now, Mojo Juju has responded, thanking Bolt for the “recent shout out and also [to] congratulate him on doing such an excellent job of demonstrating some of the reasons why writing a song and an album like Native Tongue was so important to me.”

“The song ‘Native Tongue’ is not a ‘complaint’ as [Bolt] suggested,” she writes. “…I wrote this song as an expression of some complex emotions, such as grief for a loss of culture and Indigenous languages and other impacts of assimilation, colonisation and the white-washing of non-western cultures. This is not a song of self-pity, it is a song of self-empowerment.”

“ScoMo should listen to whatever music he likes when he is turning those snags on his BBQ or cruisin’ around in his luxury car, but if he cared about what is happening out in this country that he is supposedly leading he would listen to more of our voices.”

“So thank you Mr. Bolt, for highlighting an important issue and including me in the conversation. ”

Read the full letter below.


Mojo Juju’s ‘Love Letter To Andrew Bolt’

Of all the amazing things that have been happening in my world of late (from ARIA nominations, Dreamtime & J Awards to sold-out shows and more…), I think one of my biggest highlights was seeing Native Tongue referenced in Andrew Bolt’s column.

I’d like to say a big thank you to Andrew Bolt for his recent shout out and also [to] congratulate him on doing such an excellent job of demonstrating some of the reasons why writing a song and an album like Native Tongue was so important to me (whether he intended to or not).

While defending Scott Morrison’s right to listen to whatever music he likes, Mr. Bolt managed to highlight a huge failing in the approach to leadership and governance in this country… (one of many if we are being honest)… you can read the article here if you like.

Unfortunately, I think Mr. Bolt may have missed some of the nuances of my song. 

The song ‘Native Tongue’ is not a ‘complaint’ as he suggested, and I think to view it as complaining would be slightly reductive, but that’s just my opinion. I wrote this song as an expression of some complex emotions, such as grief for a loss of culture and Indigenous languages and other impacts of assimilation, colonisation and the white-washing of non-western cultures. This is not a song of self-pity, it is a song of self-empowerment. 

Due to the overwhelming response I have received to this song and the stories that people have since shared with me of their own experiences, I am inclined to think that this is a topic that resonates with a LOT more of Scott Morrison’s constituents than either he or Mr. Bolt might like to recognise. And while my exact mixed heritage may not be the norm, the feelings I raise in the song are more common than he might realise. Regardless of whether ScoMo can personally relate to the lyrics or the experience, as a leader, he should be concerned with how his constituents relate to this song and what they experience. 

I believe that good leadership is about listening.

I also believe that music is a powerful communication tool, one that transgresses time, geography, age, gender and race. Music can unite, divide, and inspire revolutions, across generations.  

Mr. Bolt is wrong to suggest that listening to music is PURELY an aesthetic pursuit. Sure, we all listen to music for pleasure, but music has always held a mirror to society. It has always been a snapshot of the issues that affect the people. 

Sure, ScoMO should listen to whatever music he likes when he is turning those snags on his BBQ or cruisin’ around in his luxury car, but if he cared about what is happening out in this country that he is supposedly leading he would listen to more of our voices. 

So thank you Mr. Bolt, for highlighting an important issue and including me in the conversation. 

Love Mojo xx