INTERVIEW: Dora Jar

Dora Jar is an artist that is intriguing listeners as she introduces herself through her honest and thought provoking tracks. The American bedroom pop singer-songwriter is currently in what some are calling a career defining year with a dream run of shows supporting Billie Eilish taking her to the heart of arenas. Currently in Australia for the first ever time to support Billie as well as conduct headline shows in Sydney and Melbourne, she’s quickly winning over a passionate fanbase. 

I chatted with Dora Jar about how black tea and being homesick inspired her new single ‘Bump’, reminisced on her connection with her younger self for the music video of ‘Bumblebee’, and found out what touring with Billie Eilish has taught her about performing. Check out the full chat BELOW;

THOMAS BLEACH: Your new single ‘Bump’ is a dreamy, spacey, and surreal pop track that explores the chance encounters that can change your life. Can you explain the creative process behind this track?

DORA JAR: It started in 2018, and my first voice note for it was while I was living in Poland. I had this family life, but I had no friends and knew no one except for my immediate family. I was sitting on the floor in my cousins apartment, and they always have black tea constantly hot in the teapot, and I’m super caffeinated when I drink black tea – no milk and no sugar, that’s the vibe. So I’m reminiscing on the day, and sort of missing my life in New York where in every moment of every day you run into someone you know. It makes the world feel a lot smaller, so in-turn the world felt really big when I wasn’t running into people all of the time. I even started imagining running into exes, who would never be in Poland and people who I wouldn’t want to see, and feeling like I’d be grateful for that as everything and everyone seemed so far away. So that’s what inspired the lyrics. 

I was really comforted by guitar, and it was the purest thing I could bring myself home with, so I started with that. Then I brought the whole song to my girl Pom Pom in New York in 2020 and we recorded it. She knew exactly what to do with the beat and what to add to it. Another two years passed and I took it to my boyfriend Felix and we re-did all the guitars together so they sounded immaculate and really maximized the sonics. 

TB: Over that time how many versions do you think this song went through to get it to where it is now?

DJ: There are 14 recorded different versions of ‘Bump’! The intro of the song was actually taken from another song idea I had with windchimes that I recorded on Ableton, and I took it to Pom Pom and we made it into this intro. 

TB: Sonically it gives me a bit of 90’s alt-pop influence. What were some of your specific references you had for this track?  

DJ: When I initially played the guitar for Pom Pom she heard a Massive Attack reference, and at that time I had never heard of them. Now I know who they are, and she played ‘Teardrop’ for me and I was instantly like :”this is where we are going”. That reference honestly clarified the whole track for me, and from there we were able to finish it. 

TB: “You take me for a molecule, I take you for a fool. I follow you into the open air” – I love the way that lyric flows. Where did that lyric come from?

DJ: If you look back at a lot of my songs I talk a lot about particules, molecules and cellular shit. One of the more profound moments in my life I’ve had during meditation after I took shrooms for the first time; I was really feeling this tingly feeling in my hands, shoulders and in-between my eyebrows. It just reminded me atomically of how much space we are made up of. And I had this playful idea that the cells in our body are elves and they are all just marching round. And if you’re really in-tune with where you are and how you are then the elves will cheer and you can really feel that as a tingle and slow burn ecstasy. If you’re not or are run down like I am now, then the elves are sleepy and moving slowly. But anyways, that brings me to feel like burning fast like vapour steam, and that’s where I got the idea for this lyric. 

TB: When watching the accompanying music video I was transported to an Alice In Wonderland world. What worlds or ideas of escapism are you drawn to?

DJ: Surrealism is something I am drawn to, Leonora Carrington in particular. I’m very drawn to old Disney films as I watched them a lot growing up with my sister. And there are so many strange things that happen in those films. Like in Pinocchio he is swallowed by a whale and then to get out of the whale they build a fire to try and make him sneeze, but they are in a whale… you can’t build a fire in a whale *laughs*. I love things that don’t make sense, and that was just hilarious to me. 

TB: For some of the scenes you are submerged in water. For me personally that is one of my worst nightmares as I have a fear of drowning. What is one of your personal fears you would challenge for a music video?

DJ: Oh my gosh, what a great question. That has honestly just given me an idea. My biggest fear would be falling. I don’t like rollercoasters, and I really wish I did. My sister loved them, and she was in a wheelchair so she didn’t get a lot of movement in a normal way, but she loved roller coasters. But something like a bungee jump is something I would never do, but maybe I would for a music video. Which is now making me think… *laughs*.

TB: Let’s now chat about ‘Bumblebee’ which is another stunning track. The music video must have been a pretty heartwarming experience. What is something those young girls reminded you about yourself as a child while filming? 

DJ: I met the girls because my friend Julia teaches them ballet, and she showed me a video of them dancing to my song ‘Hill’ and I was like “that’s amazing, I need to meet them”. So I went to meet them, and I was SO nervous to play for them, but they were so open and honest and they just wanted to play. It was so fun, and that’s where the seed of the music video started.

But they also reminded me that I can say what I’m feeling. The morning of the music video Olive came in first with this super sick black backpack with green flames on it. It was different from the first time I met her because instead of being really taken aback by all the cameras that were in the studio. So I asked her how she was and she was like “I’m  nervous, but also excited”, and I was like, that was so mature. She knew what she was feeling and she said it. I remember being that way, and losing that for a bit. 

TB: You’ve been doing a lot of touring this year, and one of the support slots you’ve been doing is Billie Eilish. The stage is huge, and her fans are so passionate. So what is something doing these shows has taught you about yourself as an artist and how to grow?

DJ: That is really just about connecting. It sounds really cheesy but it’s true. No matter how far the person at the back is, when they put their flashlight up I can see them and I’m like “I love you, thank you”. They give me something so I give them something back. I will push my heart all the way to the back to make the room smaller. It really is like we are a giant organism working together to make a show happen. And something Billie has taught me is that you can make an arena feel cosy because she does it every night. 

TB: You’re finally here in Australia, so what is one of the biggest misconceptions you had about Australia that you’ve now proved wrong since being here?

DJ: That it’s full of bugs that are everywhere. I haven’t seen one yet, but I kinda wanna see one. I was expecting to see huntsman spiders everywhere. 

TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions about ‘Bump’. Are you ready?

DJ: Yes!

TB: The emoji that best describes my new single Bump is…

DJ: The teapot because of the ritual of having the tea while I was writing it, and the video too. But also the blue spiral could work. 

TB: My favourite lyric in the song is…

DJ: “You take me for a molecule, I take you for a fool. I follow you into the open air”. 

TB: A lyric I changed in the song was…

DJ: I changed the placement of “call it a coincidence”. 

TB: The colour that comes to mind when I think of the song is…

DJ: Dark blue or deep blue. 

‘Bump’ is out now!