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Meet The Musos: Get To Know Melbourne Dance Queen Mo•Louie

14 November 2023 | 3:07 pm | Ellie Robinson

Her sweaty and spicy new single, ‘Touch Me’, is out now.


Mo•Louie (Credit: Bonnie Jarrett)

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This week is a huge one for Naarm/Melbourne-based dance producer Mo•Louie (real name Monique Sesto), with yesterday marking the release of her third single for 2023: the sweaty and spicy, club-ready banger Touch Me.

Inspired equally by alternative culture, theatre, pop and electronica, Touch Me is a bold concentration of Sesto’s musicality, energetic and powerful in a multitude of ways. It’s an explosive climax to this trilogy of standalone releases – which began in April with Signs and continued in August with Hold You – as she explained in a press release: “I’ve injected myself into my music in a way that best expresses the artistic world in my brain. I grew up thriving in environments like fine art, experimental theatre, jazz, drag and mental illness, and in these three tracks I’ve really embraced this side of me.”

Thematically, the song is said to explore “a consensual yet darker side of being touched, where pain and chaos intertwine with pleasure”. Sesto aimed to capture that not only in the sound design, but also in the track’s accompanying visuals, for which she linked up with local designer Something Shit and makeup artist Nisal Atapattu. Also instrumental in bringing the ambitious vision to life were photographer Bonnie Jarrett (aka Bonn Creative), stylist Margarita Bassova, Laura Semple (aka Hunger Digital), Louise McKnouty and Sarah Dimauro.

“Bonn and I were on the same wavelength in terms of vision,” Sesto gushed. “It was so easy to work with her and she really went above and beyond to capture these images.”

The release of Touch Me brings an end to Sesto’s current partnership with Creative Victoria, having been a recipient of their Music Works Grant project. As a capstone to the career-defining landmark, she’ll host a bespoke exhibition at the Low Key bar in Northcote, which will “immerse you in the vibrant worlds” of Signs, Hold You and Touch Me. Sesto said of what to expect from the setup: “There will be displays of pieces I wore by incredible designers Jarrod Reid, Something Shit and Vintage Garage, plus pieces from the set, demos of the tracks, [behind-the-scenes] videos, as well as clips and photography by Bonn Creative.”

Looking to the future, Sesto says she plans to spend 2024 “throw[ing herself] into music full-time” – an endeavour she views as both “exciting and scary”. She expounded: “After my trip to Germany writing music at Popakademie for the International Songwriters Week, I just realised how much I love this environment and doing it all week was so inspiring.”

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To celebrate the release of Touch Me, we caught up with Sesto to learn more about how the Mo•Louie project serves as the perfect vessel for which she can express herself.

Congrats on your new single – can you tell us a bit about the inspo behind Touch Me?

Thank you! Touch Me evolved over many years, it was originally called Supersonic and the feel/world of the song had always been a euphoric, energetic, unapologetic and bold track. Dirty Versachi and I wrote this song together and we started off with this dirty, bendy bass that felt like we were in a dirty club, so it really just evolved around this sound that made us feel transported to this other universe. There is a lot of ‘play’ in this track, in terms of lyric delivery, sound design and the form of the song, which makes it exciting for me to listen to every time. 

If your music was a flavour, what would it taste like?

Oof, I’m quite big on flavour, I am Italian after all. I’d probably be the flavour of my Nonna’s polpette, because it excites me – I am transported to another universe whenever those delightful balls hit my mouth. The secret ingredient is love, so those balls hold a special place in my heart.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences and how have they impacted your own sound and style?

I’m very influenced by old music and new music and I love blending the two. I grew up listening to Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles and Louis Armstrong, and they had this incredible ability to play when they performed, like when Ella would improvise and mimic a trumpet, that just really excited me and influenced me for sure. I always make sure I have that element of play and bizarreness in my music. Later I started really getting into sound design and foley and samples, particularly in electronic pieces. I love the interesting sounds in [music by] Charli XCX, SOPHIE and Hiatus Kiayote, so I really started honing in on crafting interesting sounds from foley, samples and synthesisers. 

What’s been the biggest moment in your career so far?

Probably the tens of followers I have on all my socials. Jokes – probably being nominated for Best Producer at the Music Victoria Awards. I had just finished my bachelor's degree in music production and I worked my ass off! Then I got notified of the shortlist and thought it was a joke at first – imposter syndrome is real – and when I found out it wasn’t I just cried. I mean to be in a category with Alice Ivy, Tash Sultana, Anna Laverty and Becki Whitton, to name a few... I look up to all these producers so much, particularly as a female producer. To be considered amongst them was an amazing moment and it really boosted my confidence. 

What's the most unusual or unexpected source of inspiration you've drawn from when writing a song?

I’ve had a few! The most recent one was when I was in Germany, my friend Mattias Koch – amazing producer and engineer – and I were writing a song for a brief we got from Helix Records. We were at his apartment and trying to get some ideas down but nothing was grabbing us. So we had a break and Matt put a snack in the microwave – it was really really old but had great bones and did the job – and when it was done the microwave made this incredible amazing ding sound, and we both looked at each other and we were like, “This is the song!” So we recorded it and wrote a whole track around it that we loved! We hope to release it together next year! 

Can you share a hilarious or cringe-worthy moment from your early days as an artist?

Oh my God, I have so many of those! I still think about them every now and then and shudder in embarrassment. I remember once, me and two friends played a show at Bennett’s Lane, we would have been around 16, and Bob Sedergreen was there – best jazz pianist in Australia, no pressure. And a good friend of mine. We hardly rehearsed and we decided to give Hey Jude by The Beatles a go – at a fucking jazz club. Fun fact: Bob doesn’t like The Beatles! Anyway, we started playing Hey Jude and it was an absolute trainwreck. We tried to get the audience to sing the “Na na na na, hey Jude” part with us, but they were just like, “What the fuck is going on?” My friends and I died of laughter and embarrassment after that, and we never played Hey Jude again.

Who are three artists you’re vibing on right now?

I’m really vibing Paris Texas’ new album MID AIR. I just got tickets to their sideshow next year, so excited! There’s an artist called Q whose track LUV (I KNOW I WANT THIS FOR REAL) I'm listening to on repeat. Also on repeat is ODESZA’s remix of Selfish Soul by Sudan Archives.

Are there any Aussie artists you're keen to collaborate with in future?

So many. I love collaborating, I have a big list. I would love to collaborate with Djanaba, Alice Ivy, Candice Lorrae, Vigilantonie, Plastiq, V, Rromarin, Annie Bass, Andrei Eremin, Dyan Tai... And the list goes on!

What’s something that fans not might know about you?

I have no sense of smell. If you are ever curious as to why and bump into me, I’ll tell you bout it.

If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

Jeez, that’s a tough question to answer. This question hurts my soul because there are a lot of albums that mean so much to me. I’ve literally looked through my entire Spotify catalogue, and it still hurts! I would say Black Panther: The Album 2018 by Kendrick Lamar – I never get tired of listening to it and I’ve listened to it to death. It slaps every time, it offers variety and has artists that I love on there. It also has this cinematic sound design element to it, which I love. It’s a killer album. 

What's in the works for you in 2024?

Well I’ll be finishing up my part-time (non-music) job at the end of the year, and next year I’m throwing myself into production, engineering and music full-time, which is super exciting and very scary! I’m spending the first half of the year upskilling, interning, recording bands with mentorship with some killer engineers in the industry, and of course Mo•Louie things!