- Fri, 2011-05-06 14:53
London based four piece Joana and The Wolf are fronted by Lithuanian singer-songwriter Joana Glaza. Having just released their new single Hide Me (listen at the end of the interview), we caught up with the intriguing Joana to chat about re-calculating the acoustic format of folk music, how her Lithuanian influences have translated into the quirky pop of The Wolf and why their debut album (heavily demaned by fans) is not on the shelves just yet...
"I Like Music because… I don’t know how to howl otherwise.” Joana, Joana and The Wolf
ILM: You're latest single is the extremely dance-able Hide Me. How did that track come to be?
Joanna: I was in a very dancy mood. I was thinking that it would be lovely to have a track which will be just a single, a pop song. Something very easy and approachable but with the soul of Joanna And The Wolf as well. Maybe for me it wasn’t even pop. Hide Me was one of the tracks which sort of opened new doors for the band, maybe we were even more sort of rock before... Also, I was just worried about our future. That's how the words came “I’m scared, I’m scared sometimes” and it rolled on. Some people, our old fans, they were quite surprised by the track. Some of them were pleasantly surprised but some were worried about the commercialness of the track. But...for us it's exciting, it’s like the journey of the wolf. The wolf comes out of the woods and travels to the city, there are all these flashing lights, all these sorts of energies that inspire it...
ILM: The b-side Vagabond has a very different feel, slower, more melancholy...
Joanna: We have different phases and I think this is really hard. We try not to squeeze ourselves into narrow frames and genres, we just try to be free. I think every track has its own story, probably emotional story behind it, and different situations have inspired it, different lyrics. So yes, Vagabond is a more gentle one. Someone said they could hear folk roots in there, I don’t know, it’s hard for me to judge because when you write something you hear from inside you don’t hear it from the outside. I suppose it is more mellow. But we do have that side, the mellow side of Joanna And The Wolf. It’s still pretty groovy Vagabond, I think the drum came from a more Hip Hop sound but because of the melody and the lyrics and the instrumentations it doesn’t sound that harsh.
ILM: How did Joanna And The Wolf come to be?
Joanna: When I came to London I didn’t know anyone at all. I wanted to do music, I wanted to have a band, so I started advertising in different magazines and online things, then I found Ali. I was very lucky. We had a look at my old tracks, started jamming some new ones then later Louie came to us, then Katie joined the band. So yeah, we’ve been together for a long time. It’s like a family feeling now. The other day I was looking at our new photo and I was like “Oh my God we look like people who have been living together for a long time” you know, when your facial features start to match each others...
ILM: Do you have a clear vision for the band and your sound?
Joanna: Oh no! I was into electronic music when I came to London, but then I was going to different venues and discovering the London scene which is all about live gigs. I was sort of jealous of these people not standing in front of a keyboard or computer but having the real sound and the real energy. I was like “Wow I want to have a band!” First I was trying to join other bands which were already existing, that didn’t work for me. I needed to pick people individually, meet them individually and start a completely new chapter, a new story. Then I had some ideas of the sound, Ali brought his ideas, then Louie and Katie came and brought theirs. It was evolving and we’ve changed so much, it’s like two different bands if you listen to us three years ago and now. But I’m glad of that evolution, I think it keeps us alive.
ILM: Who are your biggest musical influences?
Joanna: I never have one artist which I listen to for a long time, I go through phases. I can’t even remember my early influences but they probably influenced me a lot and a lot and a lot, particularly when I was a kid back in Lithuania, all of the Eastern European Folk. I don’t listen to that anymore, but I can see how those influences have come out now. With our influences it's usually things that we've almost forgotten about, then suddenly they come out - so the things that we’re listening to now will probably take several years to emerge. Right now I’m really crazy for all the freak folk following in America like Joanna Newsom, Fleet Foxes....I really dig that, I really like that. I have this idea to take these folky melodies and turn them into something more fun, more danceable, to look at them from a different perspective. You know, we imagine folk to be something acoustic, I don’t think that’s the case, it’s time to take it to a different level.
ILM: How do attitudes toward music differ between London and Lithuania?
Joanna: I haven’t been to Lithuania for a long time now, although recently there have been quite a few artists popping out from there, it’s been changing for the past five years. I’m not that sure what’s happening there musically. When I left there were not so many bands playing their original material, there were not so many venues, only two venues in the whole capital. It was quite a suffocating situation for me. Even if there was a scene, since I was a kid I always imagined going somewhere. I kept telling that to everyone, so I think I was programmed to do that a long time ago. When I came to London it struck me because it’s all about life and live shows. That's very important and very good for me! I love being in the studio but to be honest, live is so much better. I feel so much more alive on stage. London gives me more opportunities to breathe in that sense.
ILM: What are your future plans?
Joanna: We’re planning to release our next single in September and we hope that the album will finally come out next year, maybe in January or February. Hopefully it’s going to happen! Fingers crossed.
ILM: How far are you with the album?
Joanna: Well, the fact is that we’re ready with the tracks and we are ready to jump into the studio and do it but we do have some financial cautions. Hopefully they will get sorted out. Some things are not up to us. We'd love to, we’re ready to go to the studio tomorrow...but there are some negotiations, they all seem very positive. So...fingers crossed!
ILM: I'm sure it will all happen when it's meant to be...!
Joanna: Yes, absolutely. At the end of the day, the first album happens only once! I just realised, you know, maybe there is no need to push it and rush it. We do our best. I think we’re ready for it and lots of people ask us when we send a single out “hey can I buy an album please?” and we’re like “well, unfortunately we don’t have one out yet,” but it's on the way!