Words by Tammy Walters
Joan Wasser is a name that has been circulating in the music business since the early 90s.
Known for his work in The Dambuilders, Black Beetle, Antony and the Johnsons, and as the title strength of Joan As Police Woman, Joan has been called “one of the best musicians of the 21st century”.
It is no wonder, then, that the seasoned multi-instrumentalist has been associated with the biggest names in the industry. From her three-year relationship with Jeff Buckley until he drowned far too soon, to her star-studded collaborators including Elton John, Lou Reed, Rufus Wainwright, John Cale, Sheryl Crow and the Scissor Sisters, Joan is a co-active force.
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During the lockdown, she continued to expand the contact list for the latest album, The solution is restlesswhich boasts the impeccable talents of Dave Okumus and the now deceased Tony Allen.
“I met Tony Allen through Damon and this record, The solution is restlesswhich I published in November, I started with an evening of improvisations with Tony Allen and Dave Okumu, ”she says.
“I took the numbers and wrote songs from them; I made song forms, made tons of editing and made the songs based on them during the lockdown.
“I spent a year making this record during lockdown and used those tracks as feed to write those songs.
“Dave Okumu has been a friend for a long time. I met him in London when we were doing a project about Gil Scott-Heron, and you know Tony, oh, this was one of Tony’s last shots, and I’m incredibly grateful to have worked with him. “
She further recruited Blur and Gorillaz mastermind, Damon Albarn, for the track ‘Get My Bearings’, while also returning her talent for Gorillaz’ latest sonic tooth turner ‘Song Machine’.
“I’ve known him for several years,” she continues. “We went on a trip together to Ethiopia with Africa Express, so we got to know each other back then and just collaborated on the latest Gorillaz record.
“I feel like we share a very similar way of liking working with music, which is very easy to go on – just hang out in a room, make yourself comfortable, and the music will happen, which is the best way for me and clearly for him too.
“It’s always been really easy to work with him and I feel like we share a similar sense of melody and rhythm. It’s super easy. I adore his voice and I just adore his process; I do not know what I otherwise have to say than EASY, ”she laughs.
By recreating the work live for his upcoming Australian tour in late May / early June, Wasser will bring an incredibly talented pool of musicians including Parker Kindred (drums), Benjamin Lazar Davis (bass) and Eric Lane ( keys).
“We’re making the songs with our arrangements of them, and it’s going great, we’ve been touring for a few weeks now, and it’s going great,” she says.
“That’s what I feel I have to do, so it’s great to be back. I’m bringing a show and it’s a lot of music I promise. It’s going to be great, I can not wait to come back.”
Joan was previously in Australia in 2019 and played a solo show at the Melbourne Recital Hall as part of the Melbourne International Arts Festival, where she promoted her discography collection, Joantology.
While Joantology focus on his 15-year-old music museum, the singer-songwriter is nowhere near his termination zone, with Joantology Part II a real possibility.
“I do not really perceive it as what I want to achieve,” she explains, “for me the music is infinite and there is so much more music I look forward to making it and it is a continuous thing.
“There are so many ways to do it,” she says and repeats it over and over … “there are so many ways to do it that I do not know yet.
“It is one of the most exciting things about staying open and curious and interested; there are so many ways to make music and communicate through it. So I’m always looking forward to learning about more ways to do it, because that’s the only thing that really makes sense to me. ”
Be sure to catch Joan as a policewoman on Thursday, June 2, 2022 at the Melbourne Palais Theater. Tickets here.