Interview: Joss Stone
Grammy award-winning singer Joss Stone represents the fearless side of the music industry; from leaving her music label to starting her own, to becoming a member of a band full of legends. The British soul singer rose to fame in 2003 with her multi-platinum debut, ‘The Soul Sessions’ and her second album ‘Mind Body & Soul’ was just as highly acclaimed. The 25-year-old soulful beauty sat down to talk to The Wrap Up’s Kristian Galea about her next release, her plans to do a reggae song and the X Factor…
The Wrap Up: Hi Joss, how are you and what have you been up to?
Joss Stone: I’m good! At the moment, I’ve been working on the ‘Soul Sessions: Volume II’ album which is coming out in late July. It was so fun making it; I’m going to be making another record in August - I just love making music.
TWU: So what can you tell us about ‘Soul Sessions: Volume II’?
Joss Stone: They are all covers; like the first ‘Soul Sessions’ album. That was my debut album; I was around 15-year-old when I recorded those covers! They were all obscure soul songs... Betty Wright inspired my first ‘Soul Sessions’ album; she taught me everything I know and definitely helped me in my career.
TWU: The first ‘Soul Sessions’ went multi-platinum - does that add extra pressure on you as an artist?
Joss Stone: It adds extra pressure to somebody, but not really me, I just love making the music - once it’s recorded I’m happy.
TWU: Can you tell us about the songs you’re covering?
Joss Stone: Yes of course! Steve Greenberg is the man who came up with all the obscure tracks; I didn’t want it to sound like karaoke at all. My favourite covers I did on the album were ‘Teardrops’ by Womack and Womack and Bettye Swann ‘Then you can tell me goodbye’.
TWU: Sounds exciting! You are also in a band called Superheavy with legends Mick Jagger, Damian Marley, Dave Stewart and A.R. Rahman; what can you tell us about that?
Joss Stone: I’m in a band! [Shrieks] It was so much fun and a crazy experience. We were making our own sound and that was a lot of fun in itself. I was just so happy being in a band; it was nice to hand responsibility over and share the work!
TWU: Was the transition difficult from being a solo singer to a band member?
Joss Stone: No, not really, I loved it! My aim was to kill the backing vocals. It’s an odd sound but have a listen to it, the album is out now.
TWU: Haven’t you just come back from China as well?
Joss Stone: Yes I did a gig in Beijing - it was crazy! The military lined the outside of the gig; about 150 of them surrounded the audience… it was the weirdest thing. It was as if I had got off of a spaceship and gone into a different world. They were there to make sure nobody stepped out of line and I didn’t say the wrong things. All of my songs had to be approved; I was just amazed at their culture.
TWU: That sounds crazy! On top of that, you’ve got your own record label ‘Stone'd Records’ to keep up with, how did that come about?
Joss Stone: When I was signed it was a bloody pain in my a**e. The first few records were fine because Steve Greenberg was on board as he was the one who signed me, but as soon as he left it all went t*ts up. When I got out of my deal, I decided to make my own record label so I could still put out records for my fans and be creatively free.
TWU: Have you signed anyone?
Joss Stone: Yup! We signed Yes Sir Boss, who are a f**king awesome band - they are massive on the festival circuit. They are a brilliant, quirky, free, funny and opinionated band. I just would have hated to see them change if they had been signed elsewhere; I am against that. We are not products; we are people at the end of the day. Making people go down the wrong route can lead to depression and alcohol abuse, so I’m just trying to provide an alternate approach to signing artists so I can lead them down the right path.
TWU: What do you make of UK talent shows such as the X Factor and The Voice?
Joss Stone: It totally depends on who you are, that is what is so beautiful about art - it can be anything. I personally think it’s a shame that pop music overtook instrument based music, because that is where music came from. The only time these talent shows irritate me is when they make out it is real, when it’s not. I also hate auto tune - if you can’t sing go get another job.
TWU: You’re an artist who is always putting yourself out of your comfort zone. So what can we expect from Joss stone over the next year?
Joss Stone: I’d love to do a reggae album! I love to investigate different styles of music. Expect a Reggae song from me very soon!
Keep up to date with Joss by following her on Twitter.
Words: Kristian Galea (@Krissoappalled)