Mojo Juju is a Cuban heeled pocket rocket. The 5’3″ soulful singer is sassy, funky and versatile, and unafraid to challenge boundaries with her hybrid-genres and androgynous style.
Back in 2012, Mojo released a self-titled debut solo album, showcasing a dynamic range of lyrical blues and noir soundscapes. Her most recent work, which is set for an early 2015 release, is a collaboration with producer Ptero Stylus (Diafrix/Mantra), and Mojo has hinted that it will be an exploration into “pop songwriting” with throwbacks to Soul, R’n’B and Funk.
With her full band in tow, Mojo Juju will launch her first single ‘A Heart Is Not A Yoyo’ from her upcoming album on Friday 14 November 2014 at Ding Dong Lounge with support from Kiwi troubadour Marlon Williams, and Scottish acts Finding Albert and Ross Ainslie & Jarlath Henderson.
We caught up with the stylish entertainer before she embarked on another headline national tour!
Mojo Juju – great name. Where did it come from?
I reckon it’s as good a name as any other. Mojo is just my name. Juju is my nickname. My surname didn’t fit on the marquee.
You’ve just released your new single ‘A Heart Is Not A Yo-Yo’. Congratulations, it’s a really funky track. What inspired it?
Thanks! Well sonically, I guess it’s inspired by a lot of old Motown tunes, but we wanted it to sound a little more modern than that. I’m a pretty huge Outkast fan. Maybe a teeny tiny bit of that influence helped bring it out of a purely nostalgic feel. Lyrically it was inspired by all those times you suck at being a good partner, or lover, or friend, but you really didn’t mean to suck at it. And maybe the other person sucked at it a bit too. It’s a reminder that it’s ok to make mistakes, but you should always try to be excellent to each other.
Is there a music video in the works? I’m imagining something very smooth indeed…
Maybe, maybe. 🙂 I hope so. And I’d hope you would expect no less than smooth.
You’re debuting the new single as part of AWME this November at the Ding Dong Lounge, what are you most excited about the launch?
Finally playing these songs live! It’s been very different writing only in the studio and then trying to figure out how to play them with an actual band. It’s the reverse of everything I’ve ever done in the past. Oh that, and getting to see Marlon Williams play. He’s on before us. Beautiful, you just gotta hear him sing.
There’s a lot of Jazz and Soul underlining your tracks. Did you grow up listening to that sort of music when you were young?
Funny enough I grew up listening to Jazz and Soul. 🙂 As a teenager I listened to punk and rock bands. Then I came back around to blues, jazz & soul. But don’t get me wrong. If you look through my record collection you’re gonna find everything from Bessie Smith to Betty Davis to Beyonce in there.
You’ve got a very distinctive style – both musically and fashionably. Who are your style crushes?
Andre 3000 for sure, in music & fashion. Solange is a very stylish lady. And probably the entire wardrobe of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. I also love The Sapeurs of the Congo, Pachuco Zoot suiters and the 1930’s & 40’s music & fashion just in general.
What artists inspire you these-days?
Probably a lot of my peers really. There are so many GREAT Australian artists right now. Stella Angelico, Abbe May, Clairy Browne & the Bangin’ Rackettes, CW Stoneking, Steve Smyth. All these cats are working hard and they are the best at what they do. I love them for that and I am so inspired by it.
Do prefer performing solo or having the support of your band?
I love both equally. They are two entirely different experiences and for different reasons they are both challenging and rewarding. The thing I enjoy most is performing as a duo with my brother, Stevie ’T-Bone’ Ruiz. We’re a little bit telepathic, as most siblings are. It’s nice to be up there with someone you know has really… I mean REALLY got your back. And you don’t have to say a thing. Barely even a look. He knows what’s going on. And being on the road together is a breeze.
What’s it been like collaborating with Ptero Stylus? What does he bring to the table musically?
He is a beautiful man. So chilled. A great energy in the studio. He has the practical know how and is also an incredible beat writer. His beats have been crucial to the feel of this album. I come with melodies & lyrics and he brings beats and comes up with all the whacky out there stuff. All the percussion so on… probably a lot of bass lines. I like writing backing vocals, harmonies, guitar parts and horn lines. The rest is a discussion. He has really pushed me out of my comfort zone with some songs, but I have enjoyed it. There’s no one I trust more to do that and it makes it easy to let go of your ego when your working with someone you trust.
You’re doing a bit of the festival circuit this year. Do you have any particular tour routines, any weird requests?
hahaha. Just a good haircut & some quiet time. I can’t let on about anything else.
What can we expect from the rest of the album?
One foot in the past, one foot in the present and my head in the clouds.
What next for Mojo Juju?
I wanna get this show on the road! Once the album is out I‘ll be bringing it to you live wherever I can.
MOJO JUJU TOUR DATES:
Saturday 4 October – Bridge Hotel, Castlemaine (Solo)
Saturday 11 October – Darebin Music Feast, Melbourne VIC
Friday 31 October – Roller Den, Sydney NSW (Full band w/ support – Elana Stone)
Friday 14 November – Ding Dong Lounge, Melbourne VIC (AWME Showcase – Full band w/ support – Marlon Williams)
20 – 22 November – Mullumbimby Music Festival NSW
Saturday 29 November – Deep South Festival, Adelaide SA
Check out the new single ‘A Heart Is Not A Yo-Yo’ here: