Drag DJs, Jawbreakers, have Melbourne gobsmacked

Andrew Van Dorsselaer


The DJ-production drag duo known as Jawbreakers is asking people to take "Just a Taste" of their upcoming EP. That flavorful sample called "Boyfriend" is available now on digital platforms. If you're thinking, hey, didn't Ashlee Simpson have a song of the same name back in 2005? Yes, she did, but this version is a lot more club-friendly with an EDM edge.

The creative process has many layers as most dance songs do these days. It begins with the Jawbreakers producing the music then finding a voice to sing it. In this case, Amunda, formerly of the Australian group Operator Please. The song dismisses its punk roots and evolves into a banger bop with dancefloor disco sass much like its producers.

Kali Forni-Kate and Sabrina Babyslut are those producers and they call themselves Jawbreakers. But you can just call them Kali and Sabrina. Both are in their twenties but refuse to say on which end of the scale. What's abundantly clear is their love of pop culture and tapping into nightclub synergy.

They both live in Melbourne, Australia, or Naarm, as it is called by those who wish to respect traditional Aboriginal names. Kali lives in the southern area where modern artists and modern history collide. That is where the iconic Chapel Street is located. It's known for its shops, restaurants, and popular gay districts. Although they live a stone's throw away from each other, they always end up together.

"There’s a bunch of queer venues and events happening frequently and honestly any venue that books us and supports and uplifts the queer community is iconic in my opinion," Sabrina said.

JawbreakersAndrew Van Dorsselaer

Their pronouns are she and her when in drag, and they and him when out of it. We will refer to them mostly in the former for the purposes of this article. But ultimately they hate labels, "We both identify as queer and slowly trying to move away from labels as much as possible regardless of whether we are in or out of drag."

The two have been friends going on six years. They met each other while doing a Britney Spears tribute show at the deco-inspired historic Greyhound Hotel, now sadly demolished.

There’s a four-to five-year age gap between them; they met when Sabrina was 18 and Kali was 23. "I think we were surprised how instantly we clicked and that we had so much in common for a millennial and Gen Z," they explain. "From there we were inseparable pretty much trying to incorporate each other into every gig and then the rest is history."

In school, Sabrina studied costume design and music theory and she's played saxophone ever since she was seven years old.

Kali was a track and field athlete who admits to being, "a Uni drop out studying musculoskeletal therapy. I also love waterskiing, kneeboarding, and to be honest, still into Pokemon Go," she smirks.

Eventually they let their love of music and style win out over everything else. That makes sense because both have music in their blood. "I dead ass was in primary school listening to sonatas on my iPod Touch but I would listen to literally any genre of music as long as it was on 'Glee,'" said Sabrina who loves how technology has progressed the medium."Music has become a lot more synthesized but people have leaned into that embracing the electronic sounds."

"My dad is a jazz musician," adds Kali, "and mum was a dancer. [My] Sister was an opera singer so I grew up in a very musical industry going to interstate jazz festivals---and I played piano. I went through my pop diva 'Britney Spears in the zone phase,' to my emo My Chemical Romance phase and got my first Ministry of Sound CD when I was 10 years old, which is insane because I had so many CD’s with John Course’s name on them, and now [I'm] supported by his record label."

Which brings us to their latest project: the "Just a Taste" EP and their first single from that album, "Boyfriend." With so much creativity in their vains and drive in their hearts it's curious why they would choose to make an EP that averages four tracks per album rather than the longer format with three-times that.

"'With this EP we’re showing a few different sides of our musical personality ranging from pure pop to more club focused songs and we really wanted to give the listeners ‘Just A Taste’ and use this EP as a metaphorical tasting platter," they explain. The idea is to show their audience they are musically diverse, but still have something succinct. "Since this is our first body of work we're putting out, it would be risky to do a full album. It's better to dip your toe in and see what works and what needs tweaking before releasing an album, which is a huge undertaking."

Andrew Van Dorsselaer

Once they had the music track for "Boyfriend" laid down, they needed to find a singer who could not only bring a freshness to the vocals, but also understood what the DJs were trying to do. Upon the advise of Joel Siviour from Seismic Talent, they found that female voice in Amunda, an indie artist who used to sing for the popular Australian band Operator Please.

"Since the original track is a pop rock song from the 2000s we knew we needed something in that realm, so when we were introduced to Amunda we knew it would be the perfect fit because she herself had some big hits with Operator Please which had that pop/alt/rock kinda vibe to it. The track was pretty much done before we sent it to her and we were just looking for a topline and when she agreed to be a part of the project we let her have free reign with the topline and we were so obsessed with what she came back with!"

The completed project was perfect they say. "Boyfriend" is the epitome of who they are, "it’s a high energy dance track that just makes you want to get up and party and have fun! It shows how much we love pop culture referencing the iconic queen Ashlee Simpson but how we recontextualized the track for today's music climate. In the music video you truly get to see us and become part of (what I like to call) the Jawbreaker Cinematic Universe which is just this bubble gum pop world we live in and serve some iconic Y2K looks and be the biggest Y2K divas we can be."

Andrew Van Dorsselaer

That's no exaggeration. The video which recently released on YouTube proves it. Bubblicious colors, mod culture designs and 60s era couture, Jawbreakers is just like Kali's Pokedex: ready to evolve. Groovy chic and pink hair showcase the talent of these pop rocks. And the land down under is eating them up.

"The LGBTQIA+ community in Australia is sooo supportive," Sabrina says. "Every city has such an uplifting community that gets behind their up-and-coming artists in queer spaces. From painting, to acting---the sex and drag industry---the community is so insanely supportive. Like, we couldn’t imagine being straight because like there's no community and they don’t hype each other like the LGBT community does."

Jawbreakers is only beginning their reign. With "Girlfriend" finished and the "Just a Taste" EP dropping on April 1, 2022, the duo are poised for stardom. They aren't taking anything for granted either.

"We also have been so lucky to be offered some incredible gigs that are coming up this year. Now that borders are open we are about to head on an Aus tour starting at St Kilda Fest, and then heading on the Summer Camp Tour with a killer queer lineup. We also plan to get back in the studio and keep making new music. We truly are just ready to make the most out of all the opportunities we have been blessed with and do the most to make anyone who has supported us proud."

You can listen to Jawbreakers' debut single "Boyfriend" on digital music platforms and watch the video below.

Their full EP "Just a Taste" will release on April 1, 2022.

Jawbreakers - Boyfriend (ft. AMUNDA) (Official Music Video)www.youtube.com

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

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