joan as police woman

Doing It Differently

Ijust finished the songs and told all this self-critiquing to take a hike.

How has this album taken a different direction from your previous work?

Well to start with I decided that I would change my way of making this record, all my other records were made with the same producer at the same studio and on this record I wanted to do it differently..not do it within the band and we recorded it the basic set up phase in a number of studios around town that we have loved, we would rent them for a day to do the basics depending on the songs we were doing, we did them 3 or 4 songs at a time as opposed to like having to prepare them all, 12 songs at once, so it was a really nice…I don’t want to say relaxed because I don’t think I would be called a relaxed person while recording because its too exciting but definitely it was like arrr we made it this way so that there was a lot of spreading out that could happen and a lot of time spent on detail and on top of that I was really hell bent on getting, capturing more of the feeling of the live show on the record and that meant that we recorded everything pretty much in how it went down in the mix, we didn’t do a lot of the altering of the sounds after we recorded them and pressed everything up front in the mix and also left all the outros of the songs there, you know if it felt good I didn’t fade down songs I just developed the endings so that is a long answer but that is the full answer (laughs)

So you said you were doing 3 or 4 songs at a time and didn’t feel pressured by doing it that way but was there a different sort of pressure by trying to create the live feel?

Not really we had done so much touring together, Tyler Woods who engineered and co-produced with me and Parker Kindred who plays drums, we had done so much playing live together that we really felt like we knew what to do, which was pretty much play, just capture the sound live and leave it alone and then any over dubs we did were post mix and overheads, we used a lot of overheads so that it really felt like you got that live feeling so I think we had a pretty clear picture of what we were trying to do.

Your new album has a very eclectic mix of songs and styles, was this something you set out to do from the beginning or did it just pan out that way?

I did not set out to do that, I did make a decision while writing for this record that I was going to allow myself to finish every idea that I liked, even if I thought well this doesn’t fit with the record or I don’t know if I should try this thing like this or I don’t know if this is too much like this or not enough like this or whatever I just finished the songs, told all this self-critiquing to take a hike. I decided like well I could decide not to record the song until after I finished it and you know when you do that once you have finished the song you are used to singing that way or whatever way that the song asks for and you think well I could have told myself that I shouldn’t write this song for some reason. Since I started writing songs I have been trying to get rid of the editing, the self-editing, the self-critiquing but I promised myself this when I was writing this record that I would allow myself to go wherever I liked, so this is what happened.

So it gave you a lot of freedom, especially finishing every idea that came to mind meaning you got a chance to pick everything you liked and shelve or put on the backburner that tracks that didn’t quite make it to the level that you wanted to reach?

All these songs were written within like, besides one, were written in a 9 month or so period so yeah I throw out a lot of ideas that I didn’t like but the songs that remained are the ones that felt the best.

In recording this album you have mentioned that “you are the in the best place I’ve ever been in my life”…what do you mean that?

I think I was, I mean I have spent a long time trying to let go of a lot of stuff that was holding me back, one of those things being telling myself I couldn’t (like what I was talking about with the song writing) it’s just about basic self-esteem and making a decision to be happy in a certain way, sometimes oversimplified because of course you have to have taken the 10,000 microsteps to the place where you can make the decision to be happy it’s not like you just open the door and there it is. I wrote a lot of sad songs, I got them out of my system and I feel like the more time we get to spend alive the more time we get to figure out how to do it a little bit better, so I’m trying, trying my best.

You co-produced this album with fellow band member Tyler Woods, did you find this to be a blessing or curse as it was your first time producing?

Actually I co-produced all of my records but it was great working with Tyler, we’ve played together for years and it was really very easy. The whole process was very easy.

You have famously collaborated with the likes of Elton John, Scissor Sisters and Sheryl Crow, have you collaborated with anyone on this album?

Arr yes, well I wrote the songs but I got Reggie Watts. It seems that Reggie Watts is well known in certain parts of the world and not as known in other parts of the world. I’m not sure Australia has gotten super hip to Reggie Watts but you will hear about him, and experience him. He is an incredible, incredibly free inspired musician as well as being a comedian, comedian philosopher and I got him to riff over the end of ‘Holy City’ and beatbox on ‘The Classic’ so that was a total joy.

Of the 10 tracks on your new album, do you have a personal favorite?

I really like ‘New Year’s Day’ because it was kind of a very, in a certain way difficult song to write because it’s about the quarks of the record which is shedding the skin that is difficult to shed so I really felt like it had to be right, we recorded that song a few times in different studios before we got it right and I feel like it did get there so I feel like that was something of an achievement, to feel like that song was actually captured in the way I felt it should be.

As an artist evolving emotionally and musically from album to album, do you find it hard or even redundant performing some of your earlier material when the person you are today maybe completely different from the person you were when you first put pen to paper?

Sometimes songs do feel a little bit outmoded. What I tend to do is make a new arrangement of the song that feels more..that I can always go back to the feeling of where the song came from but sometimes I like to just add some other..change the focus a little bit, turn a little bit to the left just to reveal another side of the song and I’ve done that on some of my older songs and its really fun making my arrangements for Joan songs but I love making really radically different arrangements of cover songs as well.

What can we expect on your upcoming (Australian) tour?

Well I’ve only ever been in a trio but now I have a quartet so adding that extra member makes me feel like I’m playing with a symphony orchestra so that’s great. Parker Kindred, drummer extraordinaire, singer extraordinaire, has been with me for a while now and is he an exceptional drummer and exceptional musician. Matt Whyte plays guitar but then also plays percussion and keyboards and sings, gorgeously and Eric Lane who plays keys and bass and sings as well and I play keys and guitar, violin and obviously sing so we change up the instrumentation between songs and we do a lot different things which makes it a really nicely varied show and we do a lot of singing together as well which is a really nice thing to be able to do as well. We just did 2 months in Europe and the response was really really great and I am looking forward to doing more shows, especially in Australia.

Do you find touring to be inspirational whereby it helps you write and create more material or are you so focused on the task at hand that writing and creating new material takes a back seat?

It really depends on my mood, on this last tour of Europe we had so much press to do that I really I didn’t have time to do anything besides that and the show and sleep but I am hoping I have a little bit more time on the upcoming tour because I have written while touring and its really fun writing on the road so I’m hoping I’ll be given a little bit of time to do that, we will see.

This year marks 20 years since the release of Grace by, Jeff Buckley who you were dating at the time of his passing...will you be performing any tribute songs to Jeff during any of your performances?

Nope (laughs) I will not but I pay tribute to him every day in my life so I don’t need to do that (laughs).