By her own admission, Melbourne singer-songwriter Jess McAvoy tends to attract a loyal lesbian fan base, and a faithful posse of Tori Amos-loving gay boys. McAvoy has a theory behind the love she gets from her queer fans, who were there even before she outed herself.
It’s the lyrical focus of my songs, she told Sydney Star Observer.
People who think a lot about their lives and their loves, as queer people do, tend to be attracted to that sort of stuff. I’ve always been attracted to stuff where you can read hidden meanings.
McAvoy’s recently-released third album, As The Sun Falls, is full of hidden meanings. Deceptively playful-sounding songs like The Hard Way contain some heavy, heartbroken lyrics, while the sexy Sugar suggests McAvoy’s smitten with a new love.
She said the recording process was a joy, partly thanks to the people she worked with.
I like to involve the people that I love. It’s such a personal process, I need to trust that people understand where I’m coming from.
A few well-known muso friends came along for the ride, too.
Clare Bowditch jumped on a couple of songs, Liz Stringer jumped on a couple of songs … it’s one big happy family, if you’re lucky enough to insert yourself in the right spot, said McAvoy.
Until now rather quiet about her personal life, McAvoy has used the release of the album to speak openly about her sexuality. To help her take the plunge, she did as countless queer chicks have done before her and asked herself: What would Angelina Jolie do?
It’s a pretty silly example, I guess, but she’s never held anything back. She’s never had any skeletons in her closet. That’s the safest way to roll -” if you’ve got nothing hidden, nobody can speculate about you, so with the release of this record, I made a decision not to hold back.
Keeping tight-lipped about her sexuality also would have made promoting As The Sun Falls a nightmare for McAvoy, seeing as it deals in large part with the break-up of her previous relationship. There’s only so much one can talk about an ex-partner in gender-neutral terms.
Oh, fuck oath! I’m really well-practised at doing that. At the very least, this time around I can be honest with the people who are looking for that honesty, she said.
I’ve struggled for a really long time with my sexuality, in terms of the public perception of it. I think anyone who enters the industry with the potential to pass themselves off as straight has that struggle.
Above all, McAvoy wants her honesty to encourage others to do the same.
I’m in a position now where I can be honest and set an example for young women struggling with their sexuality. It’s important to have people who stand up and say, -˜there’s actually nothing wrong with this, and anybody who wants to criticise it can get fucked’.
info: Jess McAvoy, Supper Club, Friday
November 21. Details: www.jessmcavoy.com