“I was frustrated with how people constantly lower their standards,” Jonte told Happy Mag of his latest track Push My Buttons.
Last month, we were treated to the braggadocious lines and effervescent pop that is Jonte’s latest single Push My Buttons. Drenched in 80s synths and carried by a self-affirming message, the track wears its heart on its sleeve while remaining altogether unbothered.
It’s no small feat for an artist with just one EP to his name, and yet — with its earworm hook and incisive lyricism — Push My Buttons is a sure-fire sign that Jonte is just getting started.
Below, we catch up with the Queensland hitmaker for a chat on all things Push My Buttons, pop divas, and “learning to be ok with playing hard to get.” Catch the full interview below, and scroll down to listen to Jonte’s new single Push My Buttons.
HAPPY: What are you up to today?
JONTE: Just catching up on some missed business work. I went away for a week down to Brisbane for BigSound so I’m playing catchup now.
HAPPY: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods?
JONTE: I’m from Mackay in Queensland! Mackay’s got a great gig scene for solo artists and bands, the biggest problem for artists here is the lack of resources so a lot of us need to travel for things such as studios, festivals etc.
HAPPY: Describe an average day?
JONTE: Wake up at 8am and have a coffee, do my emails and business work, produce/song write, music, read, go to my gig at night and then play my game till midnight.
HAPPY: What did you listen to growing up that fueled your passion for music?
HAPPY: Push My Buttons has such an infectious and groovy vibe. Can you share the inspiration behind the song and what you wanted to convey with it?
JONTE: Push My Buttons is all about the flirtations when meeting people and creating that self-standard that you aren’t going to accept unless they meet it.
When I wrote this song, at the time I was frustrated with the fact that people would constantly lower their standards for people just to get a feeling of bliss, which they would later become depressed over because it didn’t last long enough.
This song essentially symbolises learning to be ok with playing hard to get and seeing if people are dedicated and willing to push your boundaries to get to know you in a confident, upbeat way.
HAPPY: The song opens with catchy finger click percussion and bouncy synths. Can you tell us about the musical elements that make this track stand out?
JONTE: I produced this track myself in my bedroom and I took it down to a studio to really enhance the sounds. At the time I was super obsessed with the new wave of modern 80’s music so I wanted to see what sort of 80’s music I would make.
I had the song pretty much written when I was 14, I came back to it around 16/17 to touch up on it and see what production would work best with the song. I also think my songwriting, vocals and types of production techniques help make it unique to me as an artist.
HAPPY: The song incorporates 80s-indebted synths, creating a nostalgic yet fresh sound. What draws you to this era’s musical influences, and how did they shape the song?
JONTE: When I made this song I was listening to a lot of The Weeknd and Ava Max. Hearing how they composed their albums (which are very much 80’s music influenced) helped me find different ways of creating new sounds with old familiar techniques to still make it modern.
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HAPPY: The chorus of Push My Buttons is quite memorable. Can you share the story behind the hook and its significance in the song?
JONTE: I wrote the chorus when I was 14 and I wanted it to feel almost separated from the verses which I think is why the chorus feels like it stands out so much.
The verses explore specific instances whereas the chorus is setting the standard clear and straight. Letting them know if they’re going to push your buttons, better hope they do it right and confidently otherwise you won’t have any of it.
HAPPY: In the lyrics, you explore themes of self-worth and standards in relationships. Can you delve into the message you wanted to convey through the song’s lyrics?
JONTE: I wanted the listener to feel self-pride and confidence in themselves, to not overthink their decisions, to not second-guess or lower their standards/energy for someone else’s benefit. I want the listener to listen to this song and then go out and be a bad bitch.
HAPPY: Your music showcases a depth in lyricism not always seen in traditional pop. How important is it for you to infuse meaningful messages into your songs?
JONTE: I’ve always written songs from my own experiences which I think makes them so meaningful and in-depth. I struggle appreciating my own lyrics when it’s written about something I can’t relate to. Feels almost cheesy.
I’ve always been big on my songwriting and with every new song I write I want it to feel improved or tell a different theme in a different way. To me making a song is like a puzzle, if I don’t have good lyrics, vocals or production i’m proud of, it won’t all fit together.
HAPPY: You’ve performed with Reece Mastin and Christine Anu. Can you share a memorable moment that has influenced your musical journey?
JONTE: I think opening for Reece Mastin has to be a very significant moment for my musical journey. After I graduated highschool I was so scared to think if music would work out for me in life.
Would I get enough income from it to sustain myself? Would I get opportunities? Is this my right path? But 4 months after graduating I got the opportunity (and so many more this year) to open up for him!
Someone I remember watching win X-factor. It felt so surreal and it felt like the universe was telling me that I am on the right path. Also just seeing a big crowd show up to his performance and sing his songs to him is something I want to reach in my journey.
HAPPY: What can your fans expect from your future music endeavours, and what message would you like them to take away from Push My Buttons?
JONTE: Now that I graduated highschool at the end of last year I’m devoting all my time into my artistry and I’ve definitely got more music coming this way! My new song “Done With You” comes out October 20th this year so i’m prepping up for release!
The message I want people to take away is sweet and simple. Don’t waste your time on people who don’t deserve it. If they want it, they’ll put the effort in.
HAPPY: What makes you happy?
JONTE: My family, my friends, books, music, production, me.