Posted by Milk Bar Mag on 28/11/16.
Soul singer Jessica Papst has been busy creating the ultimate Eurovision spectacle of a show, titled The Road To Stockholm. Filled with brewing tensions and glitzy Eurovision glamour, the cabaret is about two rivals who realise they need to work together to save their crashing musical careers. The only way for them to actually redeem their places in the spotlight is to seize victory at the 2017 Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm. Milk Bar Mag had a chat to Jess about how she conceptualised the show with comic piano man Matt and what inspired her to start singing in the first place.
‘There are times I don’t understand where these things come from, but that’s fine,’ Jess says. ‘Matt and I worked together for a few years on and off, he’s been living in Melbourne for a lot longer than I have; I’ve only been here for a year. But we’ve both come from Queensland, and we’ve viewed a few shows up there that required us to be sort of European characters and we enjoyed that process so much.’
Jess also mentions that her being a big Eurovision fan also led to the show idea: ‘It’s absolutely amazing and absolutely ridiculous and just brings me so much joy.’ Her love for Eurovision led her to reflect over her love for ‘90s pop music, and how it has become the new retro today. ‘It’s like I’ve seen this all before in variations and it’s made me start listening to a lot of that ‘90s music again and I was like, “Oh my God, I love this stuff!” There’s a lot of European bands, like disco-y kind of bands that came out of that time, and then I was like, “Oh ‘90s music, ‘90s bands, ‘90s European bands, Eurovision!”’
From a very young age, Jess was always singing and listening to lots of different music: ‘I spent a lot of time singing in the car on family road trips and I enjoyed it, and so when you’re a kid and you like something, I think you keep doing it. I used to sing at home too and I used to get the study hours to go by listening to the nightly Top 40 radio shows and learning all the words to things. I even spent Maths class in Year 11 writing out the lyrics to songs rather than studying.’
‘It’s always been very important to me, even if I wasn’t fully aware of its impact back then, and as I got older I went into acting and teaching first, but then started doing musicals in my really early 20s, and then I kept singing.’
She continues: ‘I think because I’ve had so much to do with music from such a young age, I have a very wide understanding of different musical styles and trends. I’ve got a little library in my brain where I’m like, “Oh that’s funny!” “That song’s kind of the same thing” “Oh we’re talking about this song!” So this is my obscene kind of time-wasting in my childhood.’
‘I think music, particularly music you’ve grow up with, not only is connected to a soundtrack in your childhood, but you learn how music speaks to you because you’re listening to it so often because you have the time to when you’re a little bit younger,’ Jess says. ‘And as we get older, we attach emotions to times and people and places to music.’
Jess discusses how she loves working with Matt: ‘He’s just like 10,000 bundles of energy, so even if I’m having a tired day, I’m like “Okay we’re on! It’s time!” and he’s such a great comic writer and it’s like with our powers combined we are Captain Eurovision.’
She continues: ‘We both love this music and Eurovision and I love all the outfits and the crazy amounts of technical kind of stuff that goes into it. In The Road To Stockholm, Boris and Lenka’s journey isn’t without difficulties because he’s Russian and she’s Ukrainian and they’re forced to work together to save both of their careers. So they’ve got a whole lot of their own pride and ego at stake as well as everything else. It’s about them trying to figure out how they’re going to work together, if they’re going to work together and how it’s all going to end up. With certain amounts of spicy sub-plots, it is going to be very interesting!”
Both Jess and Matt have put in their best efforts to create some of the most iconic sounding Eurovision tracks: ‘There’s appropriated lyrics, there’s songs as you know them and there’s a couple of originals as well so it’s going to be a fun time. We hope that everyone comes, buys two drinks and walks in with them and sits down and pisses themselves laughing for an hour, like that would be ideal.”
As for Jess’ future goals, she just wants to do what she loves without having to work other jobs to fund her passion: ‘There are some people in the industry whose purpose is to be famous, like that’s what they want out of their career. I have never wanted to be famous, I have always wanted to be able to do what I love and not have 16 jobs to make it work.’
She continues: ‘I just want to be able to do this and give it all my attention and not have to do a whole bunch of other things, so ideally my career would be in a way that I could do a whole variety of different things, like I love writing, performing, choreographing and directing, and it would be the best to be able to fill my week with creative stuff and be able to live off that.’
The Road To Stockholm
The Butterfly Club, 5 Carson Place, Melbourne
Wednesday December 7 – Sunday December 11, 7pm (6pm on Friday)