2017 marks 21 years of Feast Festival, the third-largest celebration within the LGBT+ community in Australia.
The festival shares arts and culture from all queer individuals and their allies, each year growing bigger and better than the one before. Headlining the festival this year is Joanne, famous for her hit song ‘Jackie’. For kids of the '90s, if you didn’t sing ‘Jackie’ at the top of your lungs more passionately than the Australian anthem, did you even exist?
“The main thing I’m excited about is not only being part of a festival, ‘cause that’s always exciting, but it’s more so the nostalgia of coming back. Last year I was doing the Venga Boys show in Adelaide,” Joanne says.
“It was only a very quick performance, I was only doing a couple of songs… So when I heard about Feast I was so excited because I not only get to come back to Adelaide and put on a show but also it’s a longer show. So, I get to do the flashback and throw in the other singles, and throw in some of the album tracks and do some medleys. I do love Adelaide, it’s a beautiful place.”
Joanne hasn’t released any fresh tracks since her debut album in 2001. However, the chart-topping songstress continues to perform and is super keen to belt out her songs at Feast. “I’m going to be there for quite a few days. My birthday falls on the Monday, so I’m planning just to make a weekend of it and really enjoy myself. As far as the show itself goes, the fans can expect more than what they’ve seen in the past. Obviously, it’s years on and there’s a long history of songs now, so I’ll be doing a lot of old favourites, plus some stuff from the ‘Do Not Disturb’ album and I might even throw in a surprise.”
After leaving the recording industry, Joanne jammed with the boys of Ilanda/Past To Present for over a decade. “The beautiful thing about Past To Present was that the guys that I sing with were also my label mates back in the day, who I had actually collaborated with in the past… I was the only female, which was kind of cool. Four or five guys and then me. So, it’s the best of both worlds because you get to be part of a band and part of something… So that was good. I have no regrets because it kept my voice incredibly active. But now I’m at the other end of it, now I miss the recording. I miss the creative and artistic and releasing music. So now it’s time to look at that again.”
Joanne hitched a ride on the Venga Bus as a special guest for the 2016 Vengaboys tour, and while she didn’t go to Ibiza, Joanne describes the experience as one of the best times of her life.
“The tour itself was amazing because there were so many of us. Some of us had met before, for some of us, it was the first time. The beautiful thing about the tour is we all became extremely close. A lot of the time when you tour with people, especially if there’s several of you and you’re all doing your own thing and have your own media, a lot of the time everyone is just doing their own thing because they’re so busy. But this one was great because we all bonded and got along really well. We were literally going from venues to hotels in our little tour buses, so it was an ongoing joke about being on the Venga Bus the whole time. They’re such beautiful people. Most of us still keep in contact now.
“I was surprised by the comradery [on tour],” Joanne says. “There was one particular soundcheck where I was standing on the side of the stage, and the Venga Boys pretended to be the backing dancers for Tina Cousins and then I jumped out. They’re beautiful memories. The tour time together is a joy. Being 38 is very different to being 19. People are more grounded. All of us have done it before. A lot of the ego and arrogance have gone out the door because we’ve all grown up a bit.”
Joanne says she’s keen to see the other acts at Feast Festival and excited to deliver a blast from the past for all her fans. “[It’s] great... [to be] ...part of a line-up, too. You not only get to meet people, you get to see what they are doing and sometimes that’s how you become fans of other artists. Standing in the wings and watching them do their thing. It’s a great opportunity for everyone involved.”
While Joanne doesn’t have any immediate plans to release new material, she’s confident the experience will be something special. “I’m just going to have an open mind. As far as my performance at Feast Festival, it’s just going to be more of a nostalgia moment for me. I’m not going to be doing anything brand new. But sometimes you meet people and your paths are meant to cross for a reason, so you never know.”
And as for gracing the Feast Festival stage with her stellar outfit in the ‘Jackie’ video clip? The clothes that scream 90’s pop goddess? What about the hairbrush singing?
“I don’t think I could squeeze my waist into that outfit anymore. I’ll avoid that outfit, avoid the bad hair, and I might even avoid the bad makeup.”
Feast Festival runs 11-26 November. Joanne plays at the Opening Night Street Party on Hyde Street, 11 November.
What do you do in your day-to-day life?I'm what's known as 'fulltime freelance' which is a fancy way to say I don't have a proper job! My current projects are the MELT Queer Arts Festival which I direct at Brisbane Powerhouse, and the Integrity 20 human rights conference/festival which I produce for Griffith University.Read more: