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Interview: Montaigne x Urthboy Ahead of Their Upcoming Performances at Wanderer Festival

Ahead of their much-anticipated performance at Wanderer Festival this coming September, we threw the reigns over to Montaigne and Urthboy for a catchup.


Hello! How are you going? It’s been a while & there was that whole pandemic and everything.

I’m genuinely good, which is surprising given the turmoil of the music industry and how much I’m invested in it. The pandemic was so profoundly impacting and filled with such uncertainty it’s no surprise we’ve been in such a rush for everything to be normal. Sometimes I’ll have a flashback about social distancing in a park and wonder if it was all real. The magnetic pull of reliability is so strong but it feels like we’re still processing and healing.

How are you finding being in music in 2023? It feels like we’re having to adapt constantly to new technology & platforms and I feel like I’ve only just caught up with the current moment, I imagine it’s gonna change again pretty soon.

It feels pretty lonely/humbling putting music out in 2023. Musicians and artists are always going to adapt and innovate but the infrastructure around us has been breaking down for years so the pandemic and tighter living conditions have exposed our communities in brutal ways. Artists are expected to constantly pivot and upskill – but the very nature of our work requires time and dedication. How can we focus on executing a ‘thing’ when we also have to constantly wave at the audience to keep their attention? Ideally the musicians in a society can be entirely/mostly committed to their art but only expected to be occasionally brilliant. The goal should be to reject those expectations and reclaim your creative process and make peace with whatever outcomes that follow. We have become bundled in with cat videos and physiotherapy reels and celebrity paps and sporting recaps.

Then again, maybe it’s in accepting the hardship that enables you to move through it with less despair.

How was your album release this year? Did you try anything new with it re: the release process?

We released the album in three parts, as a way of symbolising that the project is – as we all are – a work in progress. This felt in line with the themes of the record, which revolved around the changing nature of masculinity, enduring love and relationships. The three part plan was set up to try and slow down time. A body of work still takes years, but the consumption of it takes minutes now. It’s wild.

I did an 18 date tour to big and tiny audiences in far flung places and sometimes I looked at all the gear we were checking in at the airport and asked myself if it was worth the emissions and the logistics. The joy for performing is a default, but I’ve never asked myself that question before. The tour didn’t sell very well overall and I definitely checked my ego at the door. After the initial anguish, I was really intentional in appreciating all the good bits and staring failure in the eyes and accepted it for what it was without catastrophising it. All these moments are chapters in a deeper book. Then again we haven’t fully reconciled the tour so when I find out how much I lost maybe it’ll be less rewarding haha.

How is being a dad? How old are your kids now? 

My daughter is 10 and she’s the best. I count every day I spend with her as a blessing. She’s a dream for teachers.  I wish she would get into more trouble. I keep telling her about all the bad things I’ve done in the hope of normalising rebelliousness but she is who she is.

How do you keep up with everything that you do? What does your core team look like?

I’m learning that doing lots of things is not the badge of honour I thought it was. Each commitment takes away from the others but multitasking as an artist and a music business director is not negotiable. At my core I’m an artist, but I deeply love serving other artists and using my own experience to inform the empathy I have for them. My core team is my manager Greg Carey and his off-sider Isaac Lewis. I have an agent I’ve worked with for a short while. My colleagues at ET are always a big support for my work, they’re Jannah, Carolina, Sofia and Dale. My broader team are my friends and family.

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Do you take game consoles on the road? If so what does gaming mean to you in that environment?

I do! My Nintendo Switch often comes with me but I also often rely on my phone. I’ve logged about 280 hours of a deck-building game ported to mobile called Slay The Spire which very much is my travelling game. I think what it means to me is comfort & certainty, honestly! I know the game back to front, it stays entertaining, and when I can’t sleep because I’m overstimulated or adrenalised it’s chill enough to not be further stimulating and actively engaging enough to keep my mind from overthinking. Games to me are a way to pass the time, to have fun, but also honestly to distract from things mentally that wouldn’t be helped by any level of introspection or mind over matter force.


Do you still play soccer/football? Have those worlds of sport and music collided often in life?

Football has actually taken a back seat of late because I’ve really gotten into bouldering and can’t afford to pay for both football season fees and climbing gym memberships at the moment! But I am being asked to do a bunch of things for the FIFA Women’s World Cup this year and that’s been really fun. They do collide a bit, sport and music, especially in the branding world. On a more cultural level, too, sport needs music as music is the bolstering soundtrack to all its values — perseverance, resilience, courage, strength. Which is why I think there’s rich crossover potential generally for the two!


Who is the Montaigne of soccer? 

Ahahah. Well, my favourite player growing up was always Andres Iniesta. I was always very drawn to him. I think because he kinda seems like an introvert, you know. That might not be true at all but the vibe I got from watching him on the field & the way he carries himself is that he’s someone who is very concerned with putting his head down and performing well. He’s not a big personality like some other footballers which is kind of what I see in myself, though I know that that self-perception is at odds a bit with how other people see Montaigne haha. It’s so funny, people tell me Montaigne seems so extroverted, which may be true. Jess Cerro is ultimately very introverted and socially anxious and shy. But that’s sort of the same with Iniesta I think. On the field he’s very confident and assertive and I imagine off the field he’s just some guy. Which is how I feel. The other thing is that he’s a pretty small guy but he’s clearly so strong and fast on the field. Which is how I hope I am! I think I feel much bigger in stature than I am sometimes, or that’s how I want to be. And I hope Montaigne seems that way to people despite my smallness.


I love the sincerity and vulnerability you bring to your art and the relationship you have with your audience. How has it changed over time from when you emerged?

Ohhh, big question. It hasn’t changed that much in that I still feel sincere and vulnerable in just the way I did back then, haha. I think the thing that has changed is that maybe I feel more scared of the world and what other people think than I did in my early 20s? And so I think I lean on humour much more. Making things that sound too earnest kind of freak me out, though maybe that’s just always been the case. I’m always worried that the earnest thing is boring. But the feedback I get generally is that that’s not true and I suppose that’s where my fans come in. They’re really reassuring, you know. They tell me that my vulnerability in my music helps them. Which is what I need to keep being vulnerable at this stage!


You’re a multi-faceted artist. If it’s not your own project, it’s collabs, or Eurovision, or art prizes or social media anecdotes. From the outside you seem like a lightning rod and people are drawn to your creativity. How do you balance the public facing expectations with your own sense of self?

That’s such lovely feedback on how my project presents! From my perspective I feel like people think I’m a silly little guy not to be taken seriously because I can’t stick to one path haha. But I’ve been hearing from a lot of people lately that it actually reads well so I’m gonna take that on face value. Re: public-facing expectations — honestly, I don’t think about myself as a public person that much. That might sound deranged and delusional but I literally just cannot contain in my head the idea that I’m famous or well-known. I think I’ve always had a bitter view of fame because of how much some key people in my life wanted me to be famous and it feels a bit double-edged that I fulfilled that expectation for them. But also it’s given me the artistic career that I dared to dream about when I was a kid so…I think the way I handle it is by just using the clout and reputation that I have to try keep doing more creative work! I try not to think about what people think I should do next or how I should present and just do whatever the next thing is that I want to do. I’m lucky in that I have a lot of hobbies and curiosities and interests so I’m never really short on leads to follow. I’ll do almost anything and not out of desperation but out of zest for life I guess. I do obviously feel insecure about certain things like I’ve mentioned! But I try not to let the insecurity affect my final choices on things, hopefully my desire is strong enough to override the feeling that I’m not good enough at any given moment.


What music or art project would you do if you could climb into someone else’s body for a year?

Oooooh. Goodness. Wow I don’t think I’ve actually thought about this question ever! It’s a good one. I’m gonna say this one first even though it’s not music or art but it would be dope to be Janja Garnbret for a year. It would be so sick to have her strength & physicality. Re: art! Honestly like, maybe Ninajirachi? I adore her brain and her music and I think it would be cool to be the kind of person who could DJ and go to clubs and parties and enjoy them for a year. I am unfortunately not super wired for that kind of life but I really like the music that’s played in those spaces and communities and I like the people generally too. They’re often really congenial & welcoming. It would be nice to be Nina for a year and not the introverted easy-to-overstimulate body that I am.

Wanderer Festival is set to takeover Pambula Beach 29 September – 1 October with Montaigne and Urthboy and a heap more. Tickets are on sale now at