1. First time that I saw you live was in Carpi, in 2009 [ehy, this is an awaful photo taken by me: http://www.flickr.com/photos/franfiorini/3722397476/in/photostream/ ] and I still remember your voice repeating the alarm of a near carousel that we listen during the pauses between the songs and… wow -that finally what I wanna say- your voice is amazing even if you’re started as a violinist! How did you approach your vocal training?
after playing the violin for many years and really loving it, i had the compulsion to sing. i had probably just reached a point of saturation with the violin and needed another way to express myself musically.
i never had professional vocal training but had been listening to a good many astounding vocalists in my life.
being around so many incredible singers both inspired me and terrified me. i sang for a while in my bedroom alone
before i ever played a public show. it was terrifying at first. i just kept doing it and doing it over and over makes a better singer.
2. So, violin is your first instrument, and I think that is a very special instrument, very personal involved with the one who play it. How did you shift in playing piano and guitar?
with the violin, i learned first hand what discipline does for one’s playing,
for one’s technique and one’s self-esteem. this is priceless experience.
with guitar and piano, i still feel like a novice, but will probably always feel this way
because of the level i studied the violin. in truth, i enjoy not formally studying these instruments
because it allows me to feel very free. there is nothing i am supposed to or not supposed to do on either of them.
that being said, i do practice what i compose so that i don’t have to think about it when performing.
3. You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing with Rufus Wainwright and Antony and the Johnsons, yet it as only in 2004 that you decided to front your own band. Why was there this delay?
as i mentioned earlier, i enjoyed playing the violin. i enjoyed playing with my first band, the dambuilders, i enjoyed playing with antony. i had put together a band called BLACK BEETLE in 1998 where i began writing and singing for the first time. we recorded an album in 2001-2002 but promptly broke up directly after we finished it. we saw no point in releasing a record with no band to tour. this is when i began my solo work- in the middle of 2002. i recorded an EP in 2003 and began touring with rufus, opening with JAPW solo in the beginning of 2004.
4. How have the musicians you have collaborated with or just been close to influenced your own work?
we all share ideas and music we love and generally have a running dialogue. it’s a wonderful thing to play your new song for your friends and have them do the same. it’s the support we give each other, mostly, that helps us all continue to follow our own paths.
5. The new album,The Deep Field, is stunning. How did you come up [even if I already read somewhere that you define yourself a “science geek” for this choice, isn’t it?] with the title and what does it reflect about the songs on the album?
i am not really a science geek.
i more wish i was a science geek!
i DO read the science magazines and
this is where i first saw the image of the deep field.
it is a part of the sky that Hubble studies
to learn about how galaxies are formed
as many young galaxies are found there.
i found it beautiful that they named it
something as poetic as “the deep field”
rather than some string of letters and numbers.
in general, i think it is fascinating that human beings
are always on the quest for more understanding,
even if they have to look into massive telescopes
into the remotest part of the sky.
it’s the same with the microcosm- the brain-
we are always trying to understand
how it works and we certainly find some
answers but they undoubtedly raise more questions.
i feel like this yearning to understand is ultimately what
keeps us alive and vibrant and fueled for more life and more living.
that’s what this record is about.
i raise all sorts of questions for myself
but will probably never glean “answers”.
it’s just the way i learn about who i am-
by the way i ask the question, or by the way i will
answer it resolutely one day and then not have an
answer or even care to find one the next.
6. What were some of the inspirations for your new record? Where do you find the majority of your inspiration for the songs you write, in general?
i find inspiration in the human experience.
whatever is rattling around in my head will most likely become the next song.
and love, of course. love is a great inspiration in many many ways, especially for my music.
7. How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
my first full length, “real life”, was
my first attempt at making my own music.
i had to make this record for myself
but knew it was very possible that
no one would hear it besides me and my friends.
when people actually heard it and took liking to it,
i was very pleasantly surprised.
i was almost shocked!
the fact that folks were liking what i was expressing,
made me feel less alone in the world.
it gave me confidence to make more music.
“to survive” was, at times, a cathartic album to make
because it partially dealt with the death of my mother.
understand, i love life and living it and that has always been true.
fact is that life and all the things that come with it.
joy, pain, sorrow, hope, dreams, loss, love- all these emotions
and experiences are there whether i like it or not.
i felt pretty down after my mom passed and at a certain point
i had to decide to be done with the mourning.
this was difficult because as long as i stayed with the mourning,
i stayed with her, in a way, so i had to let her go and live.
it felt like clawing myself out of a cave- not the most pleasant feeling,
but i knew i had to do it.
since then, this experience has challenged the way that i live daily life.
death is really something- it has weighed me down and it has also freed me,
but it’s a choice at a certain point;
do i want to live?
or i you want to stay in this place of purgatory?
this is what drove my new record;
living and living with joy and freedom.
8. Lots of critics wrote about an happier album. My opinion is that The deep field is a extremely feminine work. Very honest, and deal with the total essence of how is a woman… one who is comfortable with who she is. Is there some truth to this?
i would say that both of you are correct. i do feel much more comfortable with who i am as a person and as a woman and that makes me a happier human being. i worked on getting rid of the negative voices in my head. this was not an instant transition but one that happened over many years. the more time i spend on this earth, the more i realize that there is no time to be wasted on worrying about what other people think of me. it’s not that i have erased my interest in having people like me, i just tempered it a lot. this is a wonderful feeling, freedom. freedom from one’s own constraints.
9. I cannot make a track-by-track review because I might be boring and I don’t want to. Only three tips about the tracks: a) how did the duet with Joseph Arthur come up? b) ok, you’re geeks but why you often use the “chemical elements” and the chemistry in your songs? c) you used sounds such as water, why this choice?
a) are you referring to “run for love’?
if so, i love working with joseph and he sings on my first album, my covers album and now this album.
i wrote that song with the chorus being sung from the male perspective. when he came to sing on my record,
i had him try out singing that part and it sounded great. he’s got one of my favorite voices.
b) i find science sexy. i find scientists sexy. i find learning sexy. do i need to say more?
c) i am attracted to the elements- earth, air, sky and water- everyone shares them and they keep us alive and vital.
i grew up on the ocean and swam everyday in the summer since i was very young. it’s an important part of my life.
10. Do you prefer playing live or in studio? And why?
honestly, i don’t prefer either. i love them both.
i am on tour now and playing live every night is a blast. it also keeps me on my toes and humble. live music is live. it happens in the moment and i can’t go back and fix something i felt i could do better. it keeps me moving. if i am stuck in some regret about how i sang something, it will keep me from being in the present moment and making THAT moment worth it.
the studio is great too. so much creativity is unleashed there. i prepare thoroughly before i go into the studio so that i don’t have to be thinking about remembering something. it’s just there, in my fingers or in my voice already. then i can just let go and let the music take me.
11. I see you’re on twitter. Also: how do you relate with the Net and what do you think about internet as a direct media for the artist?
clearly, the internet is an amazing way of contacting my fans. i can get info to folks instantly. it’s just like i imagined the future.
12. Last question, for newspaper-50something-readers: For those who have never been to a live Joan As Police Woman show, what can the people expect from?
first of all, many 50-something, 60-something, 70-something and 80-something folks have attended my concerts!
but i will tell you that we are a 3-piece, a power trio. i’ve got a drummer, Parker Kindred, on the drums and vocals. he has played on this and last record. he is one of the greatest musicians i know. on this tour, i’ve got a wonderful keyboard player who plays moog bass and keys and sings. he does it all AT THE SAME TIME! and i play wurlizter, guitar and sing. we are able to get a pretty lush sound out of 3 people. come and check it out! it doesn’t hurt your ears. it caresses them.