Interview with Josie Field
Singer songwriter Josie Field has just launched her third album 1984; she’s opened for James Blunt at the Dome in Jo’burg, Ziggy Marley in Soweto..and played for Madiba on his birthday. She was born 27 years ago at the Jo’burg Gen; lives in Melville, South Africa; and is organizing a fantastic blues/folk concert – The Drake […]
Singer songwriter Josie Field has just launched her third album 1984; she’s opened for James Blunt at the Dome in Jo’burg, Ziggy Marley in Soweto..and played for Madiba on his birthday.
She was born 27 years ago at the Jo’burg Gen; lives in Melville, South Africa; and is organizing a fantastic blues/folk concert – The Drake Music Festival – in Rosetta, KwaZulu Natal this weekend (17th December). In the midst of it all, she found a moment to talk to sapeople about making things happen, the bittersweet joy of performing for strangers and Roald Dahl’s illustrator.
So why’s the album called ‘1984’? Was that the year you were born?
Yes it’s the year I was born. It also has to do with where I feel I am musically right now.
You will notice that the album artwork is a TV test screen which turns into a quilt, analogue meets digital, handmade meets computer age.
I feel like the 80’s is when the crossover began and I feel like that’s where I am right now, comfortable to make the cross over from “folk” to more “digital” sounds.
How do you write songs?
I play around on the guitar or ukulele until I find chords that I feel work well together, then the melodies and lyrics come together; it’s a very organic process.
Do you use your writing to work through stuff going on in your life, or do you have a particular message?
Both, it just depends. I write mostly about my experiences and the way I see the world. Obviously I tend to write about what affects me most in life. Sometimes cynical, sometimes sad.
What’s been the highlight of your career to date?
It’s been a series of stepping stones and highlights that have lead me to where I am now. Most importantly, the release of my first album Mercury and a few others like supporting James Blunt on his tour in 2008 and supporting Ziggy Marley last year. My SAMA nominations in 2009 for my second album Leyland, working with Levi’s last year and more recently Suzuki.
Suzuki used your brilliant song ‘Power’ as the backing track for their Kazashi ad. Who do you listen to when you’re driving?
Lots of different stuff, I never listen to radio really. I love so many artists. Right now I am listening to Pearl Jam.
Did you learn anything from working with James Blunt and Ziggy Marley?
Not from them personally but I learnt a lot by just being there to experience it.
How do you handle the tough times?
I write songs.
Have you had to make any sacrifices to pursue your career?
Yes. I miss out on so many special days I could spend with family and friends by having to perform and bring joy to strangers. It’s a funny thing, sad too. Being self employed also makes life a little more difficult when dealing with banks etc. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Was there any one person or event in your childhood that helped steer you in this direction to be a performer?
There is not one person, it was all the people in my life, they helped me feel comfortable enough to express myself.
Who’s your hero?
I have a list of people! One is Quentin Blake for his wonderful illustrations, mostly for Roald Dahl. I love him because his drawings are so simple, but so expressive. I think that’s the recipe for a perfect song too.
When was the first time you performed in public?
What’s the most nerve-wracking thing you’ve ever had to do?
There are a lot of things that wrack my nerves! Writing a new album, organizing The Drake Music Festival, preparing for a performance, TV interviews!
Apparently you played for Nelson Mandela on his birthday. Did you meet him? Would this be the event that’s been the greatest ‘honour’ for you?
Definitely. We didn’t get to meet him but he was watching from the side of stage, his energy is amazing. It was very emotional for me.
If you could change one thing in your past, what would it be?
What’s your most useful character trait?
Does being good at filing count?
It appears you’re also good at making things happen. Tell us about DRAKEFEST – how did you come about organizing this? And who’s performing?
I just decided it was about time we put on a festival and I wasn’t going to let another year slip past without it manifesting. It’s a great responsibility but I was over waiting for people to get onboard or sponsor it – things don’t happen until you make them happen! There is no time like the present. So we are doing it regardless and it’s going to be amazing!
The Drake Music Festival is a small acoustic and blues festival that will take place on Saturday, 17th December 2011. As a South African musician, I have found that there are not enough platforms supporting original South African music. My hope is to make this festival an annual event in which we showcase the best in SA music and help add to the sustainability and long life of original music. The aim is not to compete with other festivals, but to add to the overall South African music scene, enriching SA culture and nourishing audiences with superb home grown music. A festival by artists for artists, for the benefit of all South Africans.
See Event Details below…
Where and how can people get tickets?
Tickets are available online www.facebook.co.za/thedrakemusicfestival R190 pp or at the venue on the day.
Please finish these sentences:
a) I love being South African because…
people are so diverse and the weather is awesome!
b) I wish South Africans would…
support more original SA music!
c) One day I’m going to…
have an art exhibition… among other things….
THE SHOUT OUT
- More about Josie: www.josiefield.co.za
THE DRAKE MUSIC FESTIVAL 2011
Date: Saturday 17 December 2011
Address: R103 Rosetta, KZN Midlands
Time: 12noon – 11pm (first performance at 1pm)
Info: 083 577 7726 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Line-up: John Ellis, Guy Buttery, Nibs van der Spuy, Josie Field, Nate Maingard, Shannon Hope, Joshua Grierson, Naming James and Malory Torr (who is flying in from London for the event).
Listen to Josie’s track ‘Power’ on the latest Suzuki Kazashi ad: