For the Happier Than Ever tour that Billie Eilish is on, which is now in Australia, Dora Jar is serving as an opening act. In addition to doing her first-ever headlining gigs in Australia, Dora Jar (an acronym of the artist’s genuine last name, Jarkowski) will be performing at intimate club locations in both Sydney and Melbourne. While Dora Jar is yet to become a household name, she is unaccustomed to such close surroundings.
After seeing the New York-born musician’s first performance at a bar in East London, she was quickly scouted to open for Holly Humberstone. The Hollywood Bowl show in favour of The Neighbourhood was her third live engagement overall. The pub performance, however, would prove to be a turning point: Eilish was in attendance and promptly invited Jar to accompany her on a sizable portion of the Happier Than Ever globe tour.
Dora Jar – ‘Bump’
But who exactly is Dora Jar? In early 2021, Dora Jar released her first EP, titled Three Songs, which quickly became a viral hit online. With the release of her second EP, Digital Meadow, in May 2021, the California-born singer-songwriter made a bigger splash. Following the release of his second EP, comfortably in pain, in early 2022, Dora Jar released two more singles—”Bumblebee” and “Bump”—as stand-alone tracks.
Music Feeds spoke with the up-and-coming alt-pop performer after the first night of her Australian tour, on which Dora Jar is co-supporting Billie Eilish with Sampa the Great.
Getting to Know Dora Jar
WE IN SYDNEY
— Dora Jar (@dorajar_) September 11, 2022
Music Feeds: Is this your first time in Australia?
Miss Dora Jar: Positive, in a huge way. So new. I had no idea how I was going to go to such a remote location. Because of this, when the chance presented itself, I thought, “This is incredible.”
MF: It’s improbable that the next time you’re in Australia, you’ll play venues as modest as the ones hosting your two main gigs. When did you start performing live?
DJ: I played my first gig a year ago in London at the Waiting Room to a crowd of around 150. Even more remarkable was the presence of Billie. That time I opened for the Neighbourhood in the Hollywood Bowl, on my third ever concert tour, was nuts.
I basically spent the whole lockdown debating with myself whether or not I should just stick to being a studio artist and never perform live because it was too terrifying. First I was sceptical, but after putting on my first concert I realised I had arrived.
Music Feeds: Is this your first time in Australia?
DJ: Basically, London was the site of my first-ever session. In London, I really realised the importance of music in my life. That place is like a second home to me and has a special place in my heart.
MF: But you’re based in California?
DJ: My youth was spent in Northern California, and ever since then, I’ve been always on the go. I was born in New York, reared in California, attended a boarding school in Connecticut, and then settled in Poland. I’m used to travelling often.
MF: How was boarding school?
DJ: It was horrific yet incredible all at the same time. My newfound pals and the closeness we shared were like blood brothers and sisters. The truth is that one of my friends from Wuhan, China, happened to be in Australia and attended the event with me last night.
MF: What kind of student were you?
DJ: The school’s theatre was so great that I would spend the whole school day there instead of doing my schoolwork. That’s when I decided I wasn’t cut out for academia, so instead of going to college, I going to relocate to Poland and start a band.
MF: Is it correct to say that your surname, Jarkowski, is of Polish origin?
Just what I was thinking, DJ. My father is a native Polish speaker; he met my mother when she was performing in a play there and he was working as a translator. In addition to having an aunt and relatives in Poland, I also have a half-brother who lives there and is raising his two girls.
Dora Jar – ‘Multiply’
MF: Did you get together with other students to do music when you were in boarding school?
DJ: I really just hung out on the stairway and played the guitar the whole time. It served as a defence mechanism if a teacher asked me, “Why aren’t you completing your homework?” Because I’m not that kind of person, I’d say, and then I’d win them over with a song about them.
MF: Smart guitar licks and melodies abound in your tunes. Do you consider yourself to be somewhat of a guitar nerd?
DJ: I’m always stretching, but I’m not really technically savvy in the area. In terms of making music, I rely heavily on my ears. And I’m a chronic fidgeter; when I’m not strumming my guitar, I’m probably tearing apart my phone cover.
MF: When did you first realise that songwriting was something you could do and that you enjoyed doing?
DJ: Way too early in the morning. Seeing the Foo Fighters in concert when I was four years old was the turning point. The Bridge School, which was founded by Neil Young and where my sister studied, was an excellent choice for our family. CP was the diagnosis made. So, we’d all receive first-row seats to see an unforgettable concert with the likes of Neil Young, Paul McCartney, the Foo Fighters, and Ben Harper, in front of a crowd of tens of thousands.
When I was four years old, my family and I went to see the Foo Fighters for the first time, and during their acoustic performance, Dave Grohl said, “Guitar – I need to play the guitar and I need to compose songs.”
MF: When did you get a guitar?
DJ: When I was eight years old, I received a guitar and the first thing I did was look up the chords of Foo Fighters songs so I could use them as a basis for my own compositions. In other words, my in-ear monitors are always blasting the music of Dave Grohl, who is a really significant impact on me.
MF: He’s on your in-ears?
DJ: I have a photo of him behind my left ear and one of Einstein on my right.
MF: Ah, Einstein, who you compare yourself to in the lyrics of ‘Scab Song’.
DJ: That’s a really arrogant phrase, right?