Cat On The Wall: How are you since your loooong tour ended? How did you find the European crowds?
Joan Wasser: Since my tour ended I am pretending I am a normal person in my apartment. It’s great. The European crowds are always amazing, honestly the fact that they are there at my show at all makes them amazing to me.
COTW: The last time we spoke (for Funky Mofo) you were touring with Rufus Wainwright, both supporting and performing in his band. You captivated the audiences. Your new album feels like catharsis: the feelings conveyed in songs like “Real Life”, “Anyone” or “We Don’t Own It” are almost palpable in their intensity. What was your outlook/frame of mind when it came to recording the Real Life album?
JW:I wanted the record to have the feeling of some of the music I love the most – that ’70s soul sound where everyone is playing together. I wanted the arrangements to be spare and subtle so that the song came first always and yes – I wanted it to be intimate and honest.
COTW: Your songs reveal your exceptional talent for penning lyrics and your words convey a lot of sensitivity towards the “little things” in life. How come you come so solid gold?
JW:You’re cute. I find that the details in life are the things that really stick with you and ultimately leave you with the flavour of the experience. If you can be aware of those details and get them in the song, it makes the experience of the song stick also and helps the listener to feel what you do.
COTW: “The Ride” has to be my favourite track of the album, I totally lose myself in it! What is the background of that particular song?
JW:This song is really like a prayer. There are many stories to this song but one of them is about someone I watched just going through the motions of life, thinking that they were participating but really they were not being honest with themselves or the situation they were in. So I am asking them to try to feel new in the old situation. Vague enough? Make up your own story…..
COTW: Antony Hegarty, of Antony and the Johnsons, joins you on the beautiful “I Defy”. Is there any other artist you haven’t yet worked with that you’d like to record with?
COTW: Can you tell me what “Happiness is a Violator” is about? Is it a reaction to George Bush/War on Iraq/terror?
JW:It is dedicated to Condoleezza Rice. It is about seeing her on TV answering questions from the media about the war. Her response was “I have no choice” and I thought that very interesting that one of the people running our country has no choice in the matter. It’s about the absurdity in the way our governments behave.
COTW: “Endless Supply of Poison” sees you rocking out! How much fun did you have recording the song? How did that track come to life?
COTW: Your voice carries lots of different qualities: it is almost gravel-like yet soft, never out of place. Do you have a “special training regime”?
JW: For me, singing is all about relaxation and breathing which are things that you really do have to work on even though you might not think so, learning to be completely comfortable revealing your inner-most emotions and dreams. It’s a trip. Singing every night on tour certainly helps!
COTW: Where did you get your “Surrealist” jacket from?
JW:I made it.
COTW: What can we expect from japw in the near and not-so-near future?
JW:Writing now, touring spring/summer, recording new record fall, releasing new record early 2008.
Drinking tea, eating chocolate and olives and coconut sorbet, tearing down walls, kissing, dancing, listening, looking, obsessing, lusting and loving always.
COTW: Thank you so very much for taking some time to talk to us.
JW:Great to hear from you again!!