In the first of series of articles in which we catch up with some of our alumni, this week we find out how past Head Girl, Joanna Piguet, is getting on with her studies in the UK.
Jo, you graduated from LCIS in June 2020; tell us what you have been doing since then.
I am currently studying popular music at the prestigious ‘Leeds Conservatoire’. It is the most amazing experience. I am so lucky to have met friends who have become key collaborators for my music. It’s the best feeling in the world to be working with people you trust, and to be producing and creating music with friends. Although I am only just half was through my studies, I really want to see where this path of songwriting and music-making takes me.
You moved to LCIS at the age of 12. What attracted you to LCIS ?
I moved to LCIS from the local school system. One of the main reasons was that I didn’t feel I had enough support. LCIS had and still has an excellent reputation for supporting each student individually and personally. And when I joined, until the day I graduated, there wasn’t a moment when I didn’t feel this. I also recognised and appreciated the dedication and passion of the music programme at LCIS, which I hadn’t experienced anywhere else. At my previous school, the music and performing arts programmes were not evident or developed enough for me to fully immerse myself in creative subjects.
When did you first realise your passion for music and performing?
During my time at LCIS, there were a lot of performing opportunities. One of the first and most memorable experiences was being chosen to dance with the Swiss pop singer Bastian Baker, at the school’s campus opening in Aubonne, in 2014. It was exhilarating. My first public performance with the LCIS choir was singing at a flash mob event at the Chavannes Shopping Centre. In 2015, I was thrilled to perform with the LCIS choir at the announcement of the 2020 Junior Olympics in Lausanne, with the Swiss ice skater, Stephan Lambiel. However, my epiphany moment was when I was given the lead role of Mary Poppins, in the school musical in 2016. That was when I realised my true passion for music and performance.
How did the environment, which LCIS provided, help you grow as a performer?
LCIS was such a warm and supportive environment. There is a real sense of community. It is a place where I felt comfortable and confident enough to take risks, make mistakes and learn from them.
What did you receive at LCIS that you didn’t or couldn’t get elsewhere?
Truthfully, the amount of individual support that students receive is unparalleled. LCIS is blessed in having staff who genuinely care about every student, and in my experience, they go above and beyond to help children progress and succeed. The feeling of mutual support, from fellow students, as well as teachers, was ever present.
What message would you like me to pass on to your teachers?
All of the teachers I had during my time at LCIS shaped me in some way, not only in terms of my academic progress, but also in terms of my self-confidence and my social and emotional development. I would like to say thank you - for believing in me when I didn’t quite believe in myself, for challenging me to work harder, for the time that they invested in me, and for always being there.
Who has had the greatest influences on you and in your pursuit of a career in music?
I think, of course, there are artists like Adele, who made me believe that having a career in music was achievable. At the same time, I must mention Mr. Brooks and Ms. Monteith, without whose passion for the arts at LCIS, I would not be where I am right now. Ultimately, it was their guidance and support which helped me make the decision to go on to study music and performance at university.
How did your role as Head Girl at LCIS prepare you for university life?
Being the first Head Girl at LCIS was an absolute privilege; the role prepared me to speak my mind on topics I feel passionate about, to be increasingly confident to speak in public, and to learn how to talk to people - guests, students and teachers.
What other experiences shaped you at LCIS?
I would say participating in the service expedition to Tanzania was one of my most significant memories, and an experience like no other. I learned so much about the Tanzanian culture and way of life. At the impressionable age of 14, I was able to give back to society and help people less fortunate than myself. And this changed the way I view the world; in Switzerland, growing up, I realised how privileged I was, and I think that sometimes we forget that. I also learnt that life is short, and you should grasp every moment.
So, congratulations on releasing your new single ‘Je T'aime'. It feels like quite an emotional song. Could you tell us what the song is about and how you wrote and recorded the track?
The song is about losing someone and trying to replace the void that they have left in your life. I think people can really connect with the sentiment of the song in many different ways and contexts, and interpret it to their own lives.
The lyrics are in French as well as English; is this something you want to continue to do with your future releases?
I really wanted to write a song which represents my background. I am bilingual and I have dual Swiss and British nationality, and I am proud of my heritage. I always had influences from both cultures. Growing up, I really immersed myself in English/American popular music and culture, of course, with a nod to French pop. Although I am studying in the UK, Switzerland is my home and the French language is part of this.
As well as getting your music out in the UK, do you plan to release your music and perform in France or Switzerland, having vocals in the French language?
That’s the plan! At the moment, there aren’t many female Swiss pop artists on the scene. I think that not having a role model in that way really motivates me to inspire other aspiring Swiss performers, who might have dreams to release music.
Has Covid and the restrictions affected your music writing and creativity and if so, how have you overcome this?
When Covid hit, I had just started to seriously think about releasing some of my music, and I think lockdown gave me the space I needed to write and explore what I want to represent as an artist. I’m not saying that I have figured everything out; creatively I think we are ever-changing, and accepting this has been one of the greatest insights during this terrible pandemic.
What are your plans for the rest of this 2021 Joanna? Any gigs or new music set to release?
My plan for 2021, is to hopefully release my first EP; I say “hopefully” because since COVID, I’ve learnt that plans can change, goals can move and… that’s okay. Once day, I would love to come back to LCIS to share my experiences and perform some songs. LCIS has, over the years, invested so much in me, it would be lovely to have the opportunity to give something back.
Jo’s song ‘Je t’aime’ was released today. Click on the link to listen to it.
You can find out ore about what Jo is up to via Instagram at @jopiguetmusic
Good luck Jo!