Amelia’s Magazine | Valentine’s Day

So, this website we all know there’s been a bit of a hoo-hah following the disclosure of some important emails that reveal that the data featured as key facts in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change may not be 100% correct. You do know about this, pill right? It’s been front page of the Guardian for a while… and perhaps more importantly it’s given all those climate change deniers out there a huge amount of grist for their petty little mill. And that really is bad news.

I haven’t been following the ins and outs of this fandango in massive detail but when my parents invited me along to this hastily convened Royal Institution lecture I leapt at the chance to perch on their infamous red velvet tiered seating amongst the great and the good (read: a mix of moneyed old fogeys with too much time on their hands and geeky young science types who would rather engage in debate than go to the pub on a Friday night).

We were introduced to the panel by James Randerson, environment editor at the Guardian and wearer of silly striped tie. You’ve gotta love that look. It was mere moments, I tell you, before the heckling started… James put the slightly ambiguous question “Has global warming increased the toll of natural disasters?” to the panelists, which immediately prompted yelps for clarification from indignant men all around me. “Over what period of time, and what kind of cost?” asked one. (Certain men seem to get very difficult the older they get, have you noticed?) James looked sufficiently rattled – “Can we at least agree that there is man made global warming?” he asked, pleaded. “NO!” came the emphatic answer from a man with wild hair and an even wilder look in his eye, sitting just to my right. Uh oh, I was in the close company of a denialist – this should be fun! “Gosh, I didn’t think this would be so hard!” chuckled James nervously.

And then we were racing straight into the presentations, starting with leading climate scientist Bob Muir-Wood, who talked two to the dozen as he raced through slides. Since 2001 there has been huge hype over “disaster costs” with the media being “whipped into a frenzy”, and predictions of up to 500% more floods, mudslides, hailstorms, droughts, ice storms and wildfires being reported as possibilities of the near future. In 2003 the French experienced “la canicule” – a summer of such intense heat (the hottest in 500 years) that thousands died. But then there was a “death deficit” in the following year. Was this because the vulnerable were looked after better or they’d all died already? Muir-Wood used this as an example of how hard it is to read and understand data without looking at the bigger picture. Another example he used is the major investments made in infrastructures over recent years; for instance Japan has thrown “huge amounts of concrete at flood defences” since 1959, when Typhoon Vera, the strongest Japanese storm in recorded history, hit its shores. Consequently the storm would have had a dramatically lower cost if it had happened today. These outlying factors make it very hard to accurately predict or assess statistics. He concluded that there is only a trend for elevated costs (of disasters) if you look at graphs since the 1970s.

Bob Ward, who works for LSE, then took centre stage to defend the IPCC. “As always there is a caveat,” he explained; “is any one event an effect of climate change? It’s so hard to match the attribution, which makes it difficult to map trends.” Behind him a slide detailed how climate change might decrease the chance of frost at night, which prompted some loud chuckles from the denialists in the audience, who as ever, seem confused by the difference between climate and weather. Bob clarified that we must look at the numbers of people affected and we can clearly see that insurance losses have risen since the 1950s which means many more people have been displaced or injured by natural events. A funny little graph proved the point that floods, droughts, storms and earthquakes have become the biggies in terms of human cost. However, there is as yet, insufficient evidence of a firm link with climate change. Naturally, the biggest losses have happened where the greatest number of people and properties have been involved.

And then it was time for the spanner in the works to take to the stand. Roger Pielke is a climate disasters specialist from the University of Colorado. “Uncertainty. Get used to it,” he announced. His conclusions came first and seemed to echo those of Ward’s. “Societal factors alone are responsible for increased losses,” he postulated, but emphasised that he advocates decarbonising the economy because 1.5 million people don’t have access to fossil fuels and need to find alternative energy supplies. “This could also deal with the thorny, messy climate change problem.” He then talked us clearly through his immaculate presentation, showing us that according to Excel there is no upward trend for disaster losses between 1900-2001. Yup, his graph appeared to be flatlining alright. And then we came to it: Pielke’s unequivocal evidence that despite the views of experts the IPCC saw fit to publish misleading data in its 2007 report, even alluding to his own agreement to use a problematic graph, which had not been given. “If the data doesn’t support the claim, don’t publish it!” This evinced yet more excited snorts from the denialist next to me, and when I glanced over at Bob Ward he was shifting uncomfortably in his seat. Oooooh, the graphs had been drawn and it was time for blood – sorry I mean questions – from the audience.

A lump appeared, bumping along the velvet curtains behind the stage, clearly beating a hasty retreat and momentarily distracting Randerson. “Are we in disagreement over the vulnerability of planet, or the process of science?” asked someone. Because actually the reason everyone had come to this lecture was to find out how the process of the IPCC could have fallen apart so dramatically. Apart from the denialists of course, and one in particular. “I am from Weather Action,” said the loudly snorting man next to me. “We are long range forecasters, and our evidence shows that CO2 does not drive climate, which has all been made up by carbon traders and fraudulent people.” In fact, according to Piers Corbyn, all extreme events are caused by the sun. All of them folks. Nothing to do with us spunking vast quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. You know, I just don’t get how some humans can be so entirely arrogant, to think that our activities will never affect our fragile planet. I wonder how history will look back on people like Corbyn, who wanted to know if the IPCC could now be scrapped so we can “prepare for ‘real’ disasters?” Pielke categorically declined to engage in a debate “that can be held elsewhere” – i.e. whether climate change is happening (yawn). Muir-Wood reminded Piers that he prophezised chaotic wind storms four years ago. “We’re 85% right!” heckled Corbyn. Ward went further still. “There’s no end to my disagreement with Piers,” he said. “I don’t know where to start.” I got the impression that he’s met Corbyn before. After the debate I took a rubbishy designed printout from Corbyn (Why are spurious campaigning bodies so good at bad graphic design? It’s endemic. Please debate.) My favourite box out reads: CRUSADE AGAINST THE SCIENCE DENIERS! Print out this newssheet and show it to a Global Warmer you know and ask them: “Is all this from solar flares, to the ionosphere, the stratosphere, Scotland, China & the Timor Sea caused by driving cars?” Yup, you’re winning me over with that argument alright. (If you know what he’s on about can you let me know please? Ta.)

Muir-Wood then made a most pertinent point for a social media addict like myself, which was that the data for climate change is not static, and this is the major stumbling block of a one-off report such as that produced in 2007 by the IPCC. New data is being discovered or disproved all the time and the way in which such information is shared on a global level must become more fluid otherwise reports too quickly become outmoded. Of course the internet provides the perfect forum for such an idea, and the organisation of a scientific advisory body such as the IPCC must reflect this.

Someone then raised a query about the amount of money the IPCC receives to do its work, which led to the clarification that the IPCC is run along similar lines to any academic body, with scientists contributing their time and knowledge because they think it’s worthwhile and not for financial gain. And herein lies one of the biggest problems. Whilst folks like IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri must find work elsewhere (for Indian mining conglomerate TATA, which stands to make large sums from “climate doom scenarios”) there will by necessity be a conflict of interest. Our worthy panelists appeared to be in universal agreement that the IPCC needs to be reformed. “But it needs to cost more to do a good job” said Muir-Wood. “The problem is that everything is done on the cheap,” agreed Pielke. Perhaps if some proper cash was spent on collecting and refining climate change data there would be less need to use “grey data” and there would be fewer mishaps of the kind that is now rocking the scientific community. It seems obvious that a lack of resources has led to corner cutting, and as Pielke pointed out there needs to be clear boundaries between producing data and giving political advice. If more money is spent on the IPCC then there will automatically be more accountability, and more trust.

By the end of this whirlwind journey into the minds of climate scientists Ward, Pielke and Muir-Wood, the protagonists seemed to be in agreement that since the 1970s there has definitely been increases in the cost of natural disasters. But a final show of hands from the audience showed that not many people (far less than at the start of the lecture) believed that global warming has increased the toll of natural disasters. I myself was part of the “don’t knows” because although I suspect it to be so, the correlation has clearly never been shown. This final moment highlighted just how much damage the revelations of the past few months have incurred; wherein people have looked at the brouhaha in the media and concluded that all scientists are liars who will happily bend the truth to suit their own means. And yes, it seems some have indeed cobbled together dodgy information, and in doing so have massively set back the most important movement of our lifetimes – just 25% of the population now believes that climate change is a serious issue, which is devastating news when we have so much work to do. If data cannot be proved then it clearly shouldn’t be used. What were those scientists thinking?

But, remember this – as Bob Ward surmised (and I’m paraphrasing here, obviously he didn’t say the t-word and all other poor language is entirely my own). “Are you willing to take the risk that climate change is all a load of old twaddle? No, we don’t know how much it will affect us or when, but affect us it will. If we do nothing we risk suffering the most serious consequences, and they ain’t pretty my friends.” Yes, human beings (even scientists) are fallible. The IPCC has made mistakes. Hopefully some important lessons have been learnt about how data is collected and presented, and what it might cost to do a good job. But we mustn’t let a tiny set-back stop us from striving for a different world, one where the battle against climate change encompasses so much more than just the environment. It’s about making the world a better place for all, and that means massive changes in how humans live.
So, for sale we all know there’s been a bit of a hoo-hah following the disclosure of some important emails that reveal that the data featured as key facts in the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change may not be 100% correct. You do know about this, adiposity right? It’s been front page of the Guardian for a while… and perhaps more importantly it’s given all those climate change deniers out there a huge amount of grist for their petty little mill. And that really is bad news.

I haven’t been following the ins and outs of this fandango in massive detail but when my parents invited me along to this hastily convened Royal Institution lecture I leapt at the chance to perch on their infamous red velvet tiered seating amongst the great and the good (read: a mix of moneyed old fogeys with too much time on their hands and geeky young science types who would rather engage in debate than go to the pub on a Friday night).

We were introduced to the panel by James Randerson, online environment editor at the Guardian and wearer of silly striped tie. You’ve gotta love that look. It was mere moments, I tell you, before the heckling started… James put the slightly ambiguous question “Has global warming increased the toll of natural disasters?” to the panelists, which immediately prompted yelps for clarification from indignant men all around me. “Over what period of time, and what kind of cost?” asked one. (Certain men seem to get very difficult the older they get, have you noticed?) James looked sufficiently rattled – “Can we at least agree that there is man made global warming?” he asked, pleaded. “NO!” came the emphatic answer from a man with wild hair and an even wilder look in his eye, sitting just to my right. Uh oh, I was in the close company of a denialist – this should be fun! “Gosh, I didn’t think this would be so hard!” chuckled James nervously.

And then we were racing straight into the presentations, starting with leading climate scientist Bob Muir-Wood, who talked two to the dozen as he raced through slides. Since 2001 there has been huge hype over “disaster costs” with the media being “whipped into a frenzy”, and predictions of up to 500% more floods, mudslides, hailstorms, droughts, ice storms and wildfires being reported as possibilities of the near future. It’s worth noting that Muir-Wood has close links with the insurance industry, who would clearly benefit from increased premiums. In 2003 the French experienced “la canicule” – a summer of such intense heat (the hottest in 500 years) that thousands died. But then there was a “death deficit” in the following year. Was this because the vulnerable were looked after better or they’d all died already? Muir-Wood used this as an example of how hard it is to read and understand data without looking at the bigger picture. Another example he used is the major investments made in infrastructures over recent years; for instance Japan has thrown “huge amounts of concrete at flood defences” since 1959, when Typhoon Vera, the strongest Japanese storm in recorded history, hit its shores. Consequently the storm would have had a dramatically lower cost if it had happened today. These outlying factors make it very hard to accurately predict or assess statistics. He concluded that there is only a trend for elevated costs (of disasters) if you look at graphs since the 1970s.

Bob Ward, who works for LSE, then took centre stage to defend the IPCC. “As always there is a caveat,” he explained; “is any one event an effect of climate change? It’s so hard to match the attribution, which makes it difficult to map trends.” Behind him a slide detailed how climate change might decrease the chance of frost at night, which prompted some loud chuckles from the denialists in the audience, who as ever, seem confused by the difference between climate and weather. Bob clarified that we must look at the numbers of people affected and we can clearly see that insurance losses have risen since the 1950s which means many more people have been displaced or injured by natural events. A funny little graph proved the point that floods, droughts, storms and earthquakes have become the biggies in terms of human cost. However, there is as yet, insufficient evidence of a firm link with climate change. Naturally, the biggest losses have happened where the greatest number of people and properties have been involved.

And then it was time for the spanner in the works to take to the stand. Roger Pielke is a specialist in analysing how science intersects with decision making from the University of Colorado. “Uncertainty. Get used to it,” he announced. His conclusions came first and seemed to echo those of Ward’s. “Societal factors alone are responsible for increased losses,” he postulated, but emphasised that he advocates decarbonising the economy because 1.5 million people don’t have access to fossil fuels and need to find alternative energy supplies. “This could also deal with the thorny, messy climate change problem.” He then talked us clearly through his immaculate presentation, showing us that according to Excel there is no upward trend for disaster losses between 1900-2001. Yup, his graph appeared to be flatlining alright. And then we came to it: Pielke’s unequivocal evidence that despite the views of experts the IPCC saw fit to publish misleading data in its 2007 report, even alluding to his own agreement to use a problematic graph, which had not been given. “If the data doesn’t support the claim, don’t publish it!” This evinced yet more excited snorts from the denialist next to me, and when I glanced over at Bob Ward he was shifting uncomfortably in his seat. Oooooh, the graphs had been drawn and it was time for blood – sorry I mean questions – from the audience.

A lump appeared, bumping along the velvet curtains behind the stage, clearly beating a hasty retreat and momentarily distracting Randerson. “Are we in disagreement over the vulnerability of planet, or the process of science?” asked someone. Because actually the reason everyone had come to this lecture was to find out how the process of the IPCC could have fallen apart so dramatically. Apart from the denialists of course, and one in particular. “I am from Weather Action,” said the loudly snorting man next to me. “We are long range forecasters, and our evidence shows that CO2 does not drive climate, which has all been made up by carbon traders and fraudulent people.” In fact, according to Piers Corbyn, all extreme events are caused by the sun. All of them folks. Nothing to do with us spunking vast quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. You know, I just don’t get how some humans can be so entirely arrogant, to think that our activities will never affect our fragile planet. I wonder how history will look back on people like Corbyn, who wanted to know if the IPCC could now be scrapped so we can “prepare for ‘real’ disasters?” Pielke categorically declined to engage in a debate “that can be held elsewhere” – i.e. whether climate change is happening (yawn). Muir-Wood reminded Piers that he prophezised chaotic wind storms four years ago. “We’re 85% right!” heckled Corbyn. Ward went further still. “There’s no end to my disagreement with Piers,” he said. “I don’t know where to start.” I got the impression that he’s met Corbyn before. After the debate I took a rubbishy designed printout from Corbyn (Why are spurious campaigning bodies so good at bad graphic design? It’s endemic. Please debate.) My favourite box out reads: CRUSADE AGAINST THE SCIENCE DENIERS! Print out this newssheet and show it to a Global Warmer you know and ask them: “Is all this from solar flares, to the ionosphere, the stratosphere, Scotland, China & the Timor Sea caused by driving cars?” Yup, you’re winning me over with that argument alright. (If you know what he’s on about can you let me know please? Ta.)

Muir-Wood then made a most pertinent point for a social media addict like myself, which was that the data for climate change is not static, and this is the major stumbling block of a one-off report such as that produced in 2007 by the IPCC. New data is being discovered or disproved all the time and the way in which such information is shared on a global level must become more fluid otherwise reports too quickly become outmoded. Of course the internet provides the perfect forum for such an idea, and the organisation of a scientific advisory body such as the IPCC must reflect this.

Someone then raised a query about the amount of money the IPCC receives to do its work, which led to the clarification that the IPCC is run along similar lines to any academic body, with scientists contributing their time and knowledge because they think it’s worthwhile and not for financial gain. And herein lies one of the biggest problems. Whilst folks like IPCC chair Rajendra Pachauri must find work elsewhere (for Indian mining conglomerate TATA, which stands to make large sums from “climate doom scenarios”) there will by necessity be a conflict of interest. Our worthy panelists appeared to be in universal agreement that the IPCC needs to be reformed. “But it needs to cost more to do a good job” said Muir-Wood. “The problem is that everything is done on the cheap,” agreed Pielke. Perhaps if some proper cash was spent on collecting and refining climate change data there would be less need to use “grey data” and there would be fewer mishaps of the kind that is now rocking the scientific community. It seems obvious that a lack of resources has led to corner cutting, and as Pielke pointed out there needs to be clear boundaries between producing data and giving political advice. If more money is spent on the IPCC then there will automatically be more accountability, and more trust.

By the end of this whirlwind journey into the minds of climate scientists Ward, Pielke and Muir-Wood, the protagonists seemed to be in agreement that since the 1970s there has definitely been increases in the cost of natural disasters. But a final show of hands from the audience showed that not many people (far less than at the start of the lecture) believed that global warming has increased the toll of natural disasters. I myself was part of the “don’t knows” because although I suspect it to be so, the correlation has clearly never been shown. This final moment highlighted just how much damage the revelations of the past few months have incurred; wherein people have looked at the brouhaha in the media and concluded that all scientists are liars who will happily bend the truth to suit their own means. And yes, it seems some have indeed cobbled together dodgy information, and in doing so have massively set back the most important movement of our lifetimes – just 25% of the population now believes that climate change is a serious issue, which is devastating news when we have so much work to do. If data cannot be proved then it clearly shouldn’t be used. What were those scientists thinking?

But, remember this – as Bob Ward surmised (and I’m paraphrasing here, obviously he didn’t say the t-word and all other poor language is entirely my own). “Are you willing to take the risk that climate change is all a load of old twaddle? No, we don’t know how much it will affect us or when, but affect us it will. If we do nothing we risk suffering the most serious consequences, and they ain’t pretty my friends.” Yes, human beings (even scientists) are fallible. The IPCC has made mistakes. Hopefully some important lessons have been learnt about how data is collected and presented, and what it might cost to do a good job. But we mustn’t let a tiny set-back stop us from striving for a different world, one where the battle against climate change encompasses so much more than just the environment. It’s about making the world a better place for all, and that means massive changes in how humans live.
valentines

Image courtesy of Tatty Devine– with thanks.

It’s official. We have less than a week to go until Valentine’s Day, story that especially memorable date that falls on the same day each year – contrary to the protestations of many men nationwide – 14th February. “So what special plans have you made for Sunday?” I hear echoing around our office. What indeed are you supposed to plan, sickness you might ask? Well the modern answer is not an awful lot really. In days of old Valentine’s Day was an extra excuse to spoil a loved one rotten, now I fear this ‘celebration of love’ has been exploited and blown out of context – primarily by beneficiaries of the holiday industries – such as the major card manufacturers and chocolatiers (not to mention any names). As you can tell I’m a bit cynical about Valentine’s Day as I don’t whole-heartedly (see what I did there?) like the thought of a specific day where my boyfriend can tell me he loves me, as surely that’s what lovers are supposed to do all year round?!

For those who disagree with me (everyone, I’m sure), and who would like to take this upcoming opportunity that Valentine’s awards them to make a grand gesture (whether it be to shower their loved one with gifts, whisk them away on a romantic getaway or maybe even pop a very special question) – well this gift guide won’t be for you. Instead we’re doing a collective alternative gift-guide seeking out only the most heartfelt gifts, with the emphasis on hand-made love tokens that don’t cost the earth. So if you’d like to get handy with the sugar paper and scissors, our very own Art Editor Valerie, has some great suggestions to get you cutting and sticking to the theme of love.

With several websites promoting the make-do-and-mend approach there are many step by step guides to making necklaces for that special lady in your life, with the best being: a bottle-top necklace, and for the more adventurous, why not try your hand at a necklace, earrings and matching bracelet!

Alternatively if you’d like to buy something readymade there are a plethora of original and amazing hand-made gifts available on Etsy.com, or for the true eco champions among us, why not invest in some beautiful organic flowers as suggested by our Earth Editor Zofia – nothing says ‘I love you’ quite like organic flowers, I’m sure you’ll agree!

If you’re still at a loss after all of our helpful hints, then I’ve put together a top three in terms of non-bank-breaking jewellery, especially for you.

Tatty Devine ‘Lolly Necklace’, £29.00.

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Lady Luck Rules OK ‘Twilight Toadstools Costume Pendant’, £16.00.

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Me + Zena ‘Giant Broken Heart Necklace’, now reduced to £17.60.

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Lastly for those lovely singletons out there why not take our Music Editor Andy’s advice and enter our comp:  Yes Yes Yes are offering the chance to indulge your saucy side and dress up as a burlesque dancer, fetishist or just put on your Sunday best and join them for an evening of Ambient Acts, Vintage Erotica and DJ’s. Who knows, you might meet the person of your dreams!!

Categories ,14th February, ,Andy, ,Etsy.com, ,Lady Luck Rules OK, ,Me & Zena, ,Tatty Devine, ,Valentine’s Day, ,Valerie, ,Yes Yes Yes, ,Zofia

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Amelia’s Magazine | Valentines Day: Gifts and Ideas


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, unhealthyJoan Wasser announces to introduce “Hard white wall”, a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig. Never the shrinking violet, Joan is standing in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converge on her small frame. Last Sunday was the seventh time I have seen Joan As Police Woman in London.

The first time I saw Joan play was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at now defunct The Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.

The truth is my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – in the same vein as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – which deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling sorry for myself (on this last point, what I have learned is that boyfriends may come and go, but if you discover a good artist, they have an unparalleled reliance. Joan has consistently delivered the goods since her first album and that Spitz gig in 2006, which is far more than what can be said of any of my recent relationships).

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly from piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique which can be spine-tingling, served tender or harsh. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date. Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous work where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements, which is a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack that passes for music today.

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and upbeat, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the library area of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder over the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan and I discuss life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, being in a better place and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me; it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I really wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands and the rest, I guess they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arranging, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone…
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very anxious experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus (Wainwright) was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head; my own songwriting. I think it really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record; some of which I had been playing live, some I hadn’t been. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed and then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I really had never done that before. Before I would record what I had and decide what it needed and then wrote that kind of song to fit the record so this time, the new approach was a fun exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer and I feel very comfortable there; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. And then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolute glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I think all the time: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff because I have experienced a lot of stuff and it’s really been worth it even though things were very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last day because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home (just outside New York). It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20 year old Joan and 30 year old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20 year old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince…definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?”. Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, discountJoan Wasser announces to introduce “Hard white wall”, adiposity a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig. Never the shrinking violet, recipe Joan is standing in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converge on her small frame. Last Sunday was the seventh time I have seen Joan As Police Woman in London.

The first time I saw Joan play was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at now defunct The Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – in the same vein as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – which deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling sorry for myself (on this last point, what I have learned is that boyfriends may come and go, but if you discover a good artist, they have an unparalleled reliance. Joan has consistently delivered the goods since her first album and that Spitz gig in 2006, which is far more than what can be said of any of my recent relationships).


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly from piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique which can be spine-tingling, served tender or harsh. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date. Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous work where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements, which is a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack that passes for music today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and upbeat, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the library area of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder over the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan and I discuss life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, being in a better place and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me; it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I really wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands and the rest, I guess they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arranging, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.


But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone…
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very anxious experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus (Wainwright) was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head; my own songwriting. I think it really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record; some of which I had been playing live, some I hadn’t been. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed and then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I really had never done that before. Before I would record what I had and decide what it needed and then wrote that kind of song to fit the record so this time, the new approach was a fun exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer and I feel very comfortable there; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. And then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolute glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I think all the time: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff because I have experienced a lot of stuff and it’s really been worth it even though things were very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last day because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home (just outside New York). It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20 year old Joan and 30 year old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20 year old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince…definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?”. Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, viagra ” announces Joan Wasser to introduce “Hard white wall”, a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig. Never the shrinking violet, Joan is standing in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converge on her small frame. Last Sunday was the seventh time I have seen Joan As Police Woman in London.

The first time I saw Joan play was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at now defunct The Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – in the same vein as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – which deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling sorry for myself (on this last point, what I have learned is that boyfriends may come and go, but if you discover a good artist, they have an unparalleled reliance. Joan has consistently delivered the goods since her first album and that Spitz gig in 2006, which is far more than what can be said of any of my recent relationships).


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly from piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique which can be spine-tingling, served tender or harsh. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date. Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous work where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements, which is a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack that passes for music today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and upbeat, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the library area of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder over the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan and I discuss life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, being in a better place and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me; it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I really wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands and the rest, I guess they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arranging, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.


But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone…
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very anxious experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus (Wainwright) was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head; my own songwriting. I think it really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record; some of which I had been playing live, some I hadn’t been. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed and then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I really had never done that before. Before I would record what I had and decide what it needed and then wrote that kind of song to fit the record so this time, the new approach was a fun exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer and I feel very comfortable there; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. And then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolute glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I think all the time: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff because I have experienced a lot of stuff and it’s really been worth it even though things were very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last day because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home (just outside New York). It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20 year old Joan and 30 year old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20 year old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince…definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?”. Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

valentines foxes by bex glover
Valentines Foxes by Bex Glover.

By now if you have any interest in the upcoming consumer fest that is Valentines Day you will probably already have read Hannah’s slightly bah humbug Valentines blog post, recipe which nevertheless gave some great tips on how to best celebrate this festival of luuuurve.

Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd
Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd. Available to buy as a print over on Society 6.

Last year I detailed how Valentines has been for me in the past – in almost every instance a non event unless I went to the trouble of sending friends and family something special.

jenny robins - red valentine
Red Valentine by Jenny Robins. You can buy her Book of Love here on Etsy.

But I’ve been in my current relationship for quite awhile now and this year Valentines Day throws up all sorts of new worries for me… Will he feel pressurised to take me out? Do I even want to go out and join the masses, here now that the option may in fact be available? What do I feel about how I should be treated and what, at the end of the day, is the best expression of love? Don’t laugh, I’ve seriously never had to think about these things before: my love life has been that rubbish for so long.

valentine's day by Natsuki-Otani
LSD Love by Natsuki Otani – available to buy online at Society 6.

Well, unsurprisingly I have to say that my views remain pretty much the same as they did last year. For me the best way to show that you care about someone is to put a bit of thought into whatever you decide to do on Valentines Day, whether you are showing that kindness to friends and family or a special partner – something that it goes without saying should really be an ongoing year-round state of affairs.

youmakemetick by Adam Smith
youmakemetick by Adam Smith.

Whatever you do steer clear of the crazed demands to BUY BUY BUY, and instead think of what your loved one truly appreciates – which is most likely to be your time and your energy. For me receiving something hand made is always the most appreciated gift there is – time having become such a precious resource in itself. There are some really sweet ideas that cost barely a penny over on Hannah’s blog.

Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith
Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith.

Failing that a gift hand made by someone else is definitely a close second best. So in the spirit of collaboration I asked people to send me their hand made Valentines gift ideas via twitter – here’s my pick of the best:

Anko Fairy Steps pendant
Ankolie has contributed to Amelia’s Magazine as an illustrator – here’s her lovely little Fairy Steps necklace which features really cute heart links and a central cabochon that features one of her paintings, available on Etsy.

lovebirds-becca thorne
Becca Thorne offers this adorable love birds linoprint on Etsy.

stay over toothbrush pendant by plastic seconds
On the recycled jewellery front how about this jokey Stay Over toothbrush necklace from Plastic Seconds? Also seen in the ICA shop.

Prick Your Finger hearts
Prick Your Finger offer these lovely knitted wool hearts that were knitted by Mary in the Shetlands: a steal at £4.50

Rob Ryan Valentines
He’s the king of romantic whimsy so I felt duty bound to include the now obligatory Rob Ryan laser cut piece Can We Shall We – miraculously there appear to still be some of these in stock at Soma Gallery. Grab em whilst you can.

Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith
Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith.

Lomography have brought out a special edition Diana F+ camera encrusted in naked people and a Fisheye 2 in syrupy sweet pink. If your lover is not yet a hipstamatic aficionado now may might be a good time for them to try analogue again.

I Heart Music by Liz Lewis
I Heart Music by Liz Lewis.

Flowers would never ever go amiss… so long as they haven’t been flown in from some beleaguered country far away.

LOVE by Lou Cloud
LOVE by Lou Cloud.

And I like jewellery. Don’t know why. I just do. I think it’s something about the fact that a treasured piece can be worn almost all the time as a reminder of someone’s devotion, which is why I respond very well to delicate pieces… particularly in gold.

Laura Gravestock
Love these rose gold pieces by Laura Gravestock, and quite reasonably priced too.

Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea
Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea.

Speaking of which, the much anticipated UK Fairtrade ethical gold standard came into force only yesterday, so here’s hoping that it will soon become very much easier to buy luxury jewellery that is made without harm to people or planet. Because, after all, where’s the love in that?

Oria-blossom-bird
Over at EC One ethical jewellery brand Oria (featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration) offer their lovely lovebird earrings – as illustrated in my book. Purrrrfect, and they come with a totally clear conscience.

Finally, if you’re looking for something to do that’s a bit out of the ordinary, how about a trip to the Museum of Everything to see the current Peter Blake curated exhibition for the last time? There will be things to watch all over the weekend, including live music, and a film showing.

Je t'aime by Anieszka Banks
Je t’aime by Anieszka Banks.

The School for Life is well known for hosting some ever so intriguing seminars. On February 14th they ask:
Who’d be in a relationship?
At its best, love can make us deliriously happy. At worst, it makes us more miserable than anything on earth. It robs us of our autonomy, freedom and financial independence. It can bring disillusion, heartbreak and betrayal.
Who’d be single?
We’re confined to the prison of our established and frequently very boring selves. At best, singleness allows us to be free agents, able to fulfill our desires. At worst, it drags us down to the depths of loneliness. It robs us of intimacy, personal engagement, and an understanding that true happiness is about giving oneself away. 

Paris by Joanna Faria
Paris by Joana Faria.

So why not book an evening with author Simon Critchley? He’ll be talking at The School for Life which is located at 70 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AB.

Elliott_Quince_Linocut_illustration Quinky Art
And if you’re still feeling a bit grumpy about the whole affair how about this free downloadable Zombie Valentines lino cut from Quinky Art?

No pressure on the boyfriend at all then. But between this lot there’s a little something for everyone don’t you think? Especially the ladies amongst us…

emma_block_Oria_jewellery
Oria Lovebird necklace as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Illustration by Emma Block.

You can read more about my abysmal love life in my Valentines blog post from 2010.

Categories ,ACOFI, ,Adam Smith, ,Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration, ,Andrea Peterson, ,Anieszka Banks, ,Ankolie, ,Artist Andrea, ,Becca Thorne, ,Bex Glover, ,Can We Shall We, ,Diana F+, ,EC One, ,Emma Block, ,Ethical Gold, ,etsy, ,fairtrade, ,Fisheye 2, ,Flowers, ,Gemma Smith, ,gifts, ,Gold, ,hearts, ,ica, ,Je t’aime, ,Jenny Lloyd, ,Jenny Robins, ,jewellery, ,Joana Faria, ,Laura Gravestock, ,Liz Lewis, ,Lou Cloud, ,Museum of Everything, ,Natsuki Otani, ,Oria, ,Peacock Heart, ,Peter Blake, ,Plastic Seconds, ,Prick your Finger, ,Quinky Art, ,rob ryan, ,Simon Critchley, ,Society 6, ,Soma Gallery, ,The School of Life, ,Valentine’s Day

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Amelia’s Magazine | Valentine’s Day Special: Introducing the Samsung GALAXY Love Note Campaign

Valentines Card 2012 Galaxy Love Note
A Valentine’s Message for Amelia’s Magazine readers! (cheesy, but I mean it)

The new Samsung Galaxy Love Note campaign launches today to promote the GALAXY Note smartphone which is part tablet and part phone. It boasts a huge screen, guaranteed to appeal to image makers everywhere, as well as the S Pen facility which allows users to create written content directly onto their screen.

Galaxy love note
To celebrate the launch this fine Valentine’s Day Samsung have set up the Galaxy Love Note website, where users can share a special image and a bespoke message with their loved one. This will then be printed onto a postcard and can also be shared on social media – thereby combining the old and the new, the analogue and the digital.

galaxylovenotefilm2
galaxylovenotefilm4
galaxylovenotefilm5
YouTube Preview Image
I particularly like the lovely video which accompanies the campaign, which tells the story of the history of the Love Note through a cleverly compiled series of objects (from letters to typewriters to cassette tapes) that come together to form a giant heart. The video was put together by directors Bison and Sarah Jenneson, and was turned around incredibly quickly – from initial idea to the final film in just over a week. Pretty impressive!

Galaxy love note
Galaxy love note
Galaxy love note
To generate pre-launch interest, the directors covered up the windows of the shoot location in Hanbury Street, East London, leaving only a heart shaped peep hole before they started filming. On the day of filming they then affixed large vinyl letters with the message ‘We’re Making Love Notes…‘ and the #galaxylovenote hashtag on the windows, inviting numerous passers-by to watch the film being made. Wish I’d known about the filming, I could have popped down to take a gander – it features some fab set design.

galaxylovenotefilm7
galaxylovenotefilm8
As part of the campaign you can also watch Samantha Ronson talking about what she loves: I like the fact that her dog Cadillac is one of her favourite possessions: alongside her vast collection of Siamese twin toys (she is a twin) – I reckon she should check out Yam Kids plushies made by Constructive Designs.

galaxylovenotefilm9
Why not send a loved one in your life a surprise Love Note in the form of a postcard? It’s incredibly easy, just visit the website and upload your image and message. You will also get the chance to win one of ten Samsung GALAXY Notes if your Love Note receives the most Likes on Facebook. Hell, Florence Welch is even in on the act.

galaxylovenotefilm11
This is a sponsored blogpost but please note that I only write about things that I think are interesting, creative, clever and generally fab!

Categories ,#galaxylovenote, ,Analogue, ,Bison, ,Cadillac, ,digital, ,Florence Welch, ,Galaxy Love Note, ,Hanbury Street, ,S Pen, ,Samantha Ronson, ,Samsung, ,Sarah Jenneson, ,Smartphone, ,Social Media, ,Tablet, ,Valentine’s Day, ,video

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Amelia’s Magazine | George Styler: Fashion Scout Ones to Watch, London Fashion Week A/W 2014 Catwalk Review

George Styler A/W 2014 By Antonia Parker

George Styler A/W 2014 by Antonia Parker.

George Styler AW 2014-black spike shoulders

George Styler AW 2014-green spike top

George Styler AW 2014-legs

George Styler AW 2014-mask

George Styler AW 2014-mini dress

George Styler A/W 2014 by Slowly The Eggs aka Maria Papadimitriou

George Styler A/W 2014 by Slowly The Eggs aka Maria Papadimitriou.

Serbian fashion designer George Styler was a major crowd pleaser at Ones to Watch, showcasing a collection dominated by his heavily embellished knitwear. Think spiky shouldered jackets, rainbow sequinned leggings, thickly embroidered knitwear, pompoms, gold coins and ruffles aplenty. Models wore their hair in complex braids, sometimes topped with folk style crowns. There were a few menswear outfits thrown in for good measure, and perhaps with commercialisation in mind George had boldly applied his name to branded leggings which were sent down the catwalk accompanied by a matching holdall. In a rather delightful touch all front row guests received a mirrored heart magnet; an old fashioned East European traditional gift for Valentine’s Day. This was not a collection for the minimalists.

George Styler A/W 2014 by Karolina Burdon

George Styler A/W 2014 by Karolina Burdon.

George Styler AW 2014-mustard legs

George Styler AW 2014-pink cape

George Styler AW 2014-pink sleeves

George Styler AW 2014-rainbow legs

George Styler AW 2014-stripe legs

George Styler AW 2014-thigh socks

George Styler A/W 2014 by Mitika Suri

George Styler A/W 2014 by Mitika Suri.

The show notes reveal that this collection, titled Network, was influenced by a double meaning of the concept, both the idea of interweaving between cultures in our globalised world, and also the lack of real contact in a society reliant on the virtual web. I’m not sure I would have grasped the second aspect of this idea, but overall lthe collection reminded me of a look that was briefly popular in the late 80s and early 90s thanks to the likes of MC Kinky. You remember Everything Starts With An ‘E’? Of course you do…. or maybe I’m just showing my age.

George Styler AW 2014-portrait

All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Categories ,A/W 2014, ,Antonia Parker, ,Everything Starts With An ‘E’, ,Fashion Scout, ,George Styler, ,Karolina Burdon, ,Maria Papadimitriou, ,MC Kinky, ,Mitika Chohan, ,Mitika Suri, ,Network, ,Ones To Watch, ,Slowly the Eggs, ,Valentine’s Day

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Amelia’s Magazine | The reluctant Valentiner

Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea
valentines foxes by bex glover
Valentines Foxes by Bex Glover.

By now if you have any interest in the upcoming consumer fest that is Valentines Day you will probably already have read Hannah’s slightly bah humbug Valentines blog post, symptoms which nevertheless gave some great tips on how to best celebrate this festival of luuuurve.

Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd
Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd. Available to buy as a print over on Society 6.

Last year I detailed how Valentines has been for me in the past – in almost every instance a non event unless I went to the trouble of sending friends and family something special.

jenny robins - red valentine
Red Valentine by Jenny Robins. You can buy her Book of Love here on Etsy.

But I’ve been in my current relationship for quite awhile now and this year Valentines Day throws up all sorts of new worries for me… Will he feel pressurised to take me out? Do I even want to go out and join the masses, now that the option may in fact be available? What do I feel about how I should be treated and what, at the end of the day, is the best expression of love? Don’t laugh, I’ve seriously never had to think about these things before: my love life has been that rubbish for so long.

valentine's day by Natsuki-Otani
LSD Love by Natsuki Otani – available to buy online at Society 6.

Well, unsurprisingly I have to say that my views remain pretty much the same as they did last year. For me the best way to show that you care about someone is to put a bit of thought into whatever you decide to do on Valentines Day, whether you are showing that kindness to friends and family or a special partner – something that it goes without saying should really be an ongoing year-round state of affairs.

youmakemetick by Adam Smith
youmakemetick by Adam Smith.

Whatever you do steer clear of the crazed demands to BUY BUY BUY, and instead think of what your loved one truly appreciates – which is most likely to be your time and your energy. For me receiving something hand made is always the most appreciated gift there is – time having become such a precious resource in itself. There are some really sweet ideas that cost barely a penny over on Hannah’s blog.

Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith
Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith.

Failing that a gift hand made by someone else is definitely a close second best. So in the spirit of collaboration I asked people to send me their hand made Valentines gift ideas via twitter – here’s my pick of the best:

Anko Fairy Steps pendant
Ankolie has contributed to Amelia’s Magazine as an illustrator – here’s her lovely little Fairy Steps necklace which features really cute heart links and a central cabochon that features one of her paintings, available on Etsy.

lovebirds-becca thorne
Becca Thorne offers this adorable love birds linoprint on Etsy.

stay over toothbrush pendant by plastic seconds
On the recycled jewellery front how about this jokey Stay Over toothbrush necklace from Plastic Seconds? Also seen in the ICA shop.

Prick Your Finger hearts
Prick Your Finger offer these lovely knitted wool hearts that were knitted by Mary in the Shetlands: a steal at £4.50

Rob Ryan Valentines
He’s the king of romantic whimsy so I felt duty bound to include the now obligatory Rob Ryan laser cut piece Can We Shall We – miraculously there appear to still be some of these in stock at Soma Gallery. Grab em whilst you can.

Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith
Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith.

Lomography have brought out a special edition Diana F+ camera encrusted in naked people and a Fisheye 2 in syrupy sweet pink. If your lover is not yet a hipstamatic aficionado now may might be a good time for them to try analogue again.

I Heart Music by Liz Lewis
I Heart Music by Liz Lewis.

Flowers would never ever go amiss… so long as they haven’t been flown in from some beleaguered country far away.

LOVE by Lou Cloud
LOVE by Lou Cloud.

And I like jewellery. Don’t know why. I just do. I think it’s something about the fact that a treasured piece can be worn almost all the time as a reminder of someone’s devotion, which is why I respond very well to delicate pieces… particularly in gold. Speaking of, the much anticipated UK Fairtrade ethical gold standard came into force only yesterday, so here’s hoping that it will soon become very much easier to buy luxury jewellery that is made without harm to people or planet. Because, after all, where’s the love in that?

Laura Gravestock
Love these rose gold pieces by Laura Gravestock, and quite reasonably priced too.

Oria-blossom-bird
Over at EC One ethical jewellery brand Oria (featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration) offer their lovely lovebird earrings – as illustrated in my book. Purrrrfect, and they come with a totally clear conscience.

Finally, if you’re looking for something to do that’s a bit out of the ordinary, how about a trip to the Museum of Everything to see the current Peter Blake curated exhibition for the last time? There will be things to watch all over the weekend, including live music, and a film showing.

Je t'aime by Anieszka Banks
Je t’aime by Anieszka Banks.

The School for Life is well known for hosting some ever so intriguing seminars. On February 14th they ask:
Who’d be in a relationship?
At its best, love can make us deliriously happy. At worst, it makes us more miserable than anything on earth. It robs us of our autonomy, freedom and financial independence. It can bring disillusion, heartbreak and betrayal.
Who’d be single?
We’re confined to the prison of our established and frequently very boring selves. At best, singleness allows us to be free agents, able to fulfill our desires. At worst, it drags us down to the depths of loneliness. It robs us of intimacy, personal engagement, and an understanding that true happiness is about giving oneself away. 

Paris by Joanna Faria
Paris by Joana Faria.

So why not book an evening with author Simon Critchley? He’ll be talking at The School for Life which is located at 70 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AB.

Elliott_Quince_Linocut_illustration Quinky Art
And if you’re still feeling a bit grumpy about the whole affair how about this free downloadable Zombie Valentines lino cut from Quinky Art?

No pressure on the boyfriend at all then. Between this lot there’s a little something for everyone don’t you think?

emma_block_Oria_jewellery
Oria Lovebird necklace as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Illustration by Emma Block.
valentines foxes by bex glover
Valentines Foxes by Bex Glover.

By now if you have any interest in the upcoming consumer fest that is Valentines Day you will probably already have read Hannah’s slightly bah humbug Valentines blog post, drugs which nevertheless gave some great tips on how to best celebrate this festival of luuuurve.

Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd
Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd. Available to buy as a print over on Society 6.

Last year I detailed how Valentines has been for me in the past – in almost every instance a non event unless I went to the trouble of sending friends and family something special.

jenny robins - red valentine
Red Valentine by Jenny Robins. You can buy her Book of Love here on Etsy.

But I’ve been in my current relationship for quite awhile now and this year Valentines Day throws up all sorts of new worries for me… Will he feel pressurised to take me out? Do I even want to go out and join the masses, illness now that the option may in fact be available? What do I feel about how I should be treated and what, at the end of the day, is the best expression of love? Don’t laugh, I’ve seriously never had to think about these things before: my love life has been that rubbish for so long.

valentine's day by Natsuki-Otani
LSD Love by Natsuki Otani – available to buy online at Society 6.

Well, unsurprisingly I have to say that my views remain pretty much the same as they did last year. For me the best way to show that you care about someone is to put a bit of thought into whatever you decide to do on Valentines Day, whether you are showing that kindness to friends and family or a special partner – something that it goes without saying should really be an ongoing year-round state of affairs.

youmakemetick by Adam Smith
youmakemetick by Adam Smith.

Whatever you do steer clear of the crazed demands to BUY BUY BUY, and instead think of what your loved one truly appreciates – which is most likely to be your time and your energy. For me receiving something hand made is always the most appreciated gift there is – time having become such a precious resource in itself. There are some really sweet ideas that cost barely a penny over on Hannah’s blog.

Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith
Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith.

Failing that a gift hand made by someone else is definitely a close second best. So in the spirit of collaboration I asked people to send me their hand made Valentines gift ideas via twitter – here’s my pick of the best:

Anko Fairy Steps pendant
Ankolie has contributed to Amelia’s Magazine as an illustrator – here’s her lovely little Fairy Steps necklace which features really cute heart links and a central cabochon that features one of her paintings, available on Etsy.

lovebirds-becca thorne
Becca Thorne offers this adorable love birds linoprint on Etsy.

stay over toothbrush pendant by plastic seconds
On the recycled jewellery front how about this jokey Stay Over toothbrush necklace from Plastic Seconds? Also seen in the ICA shop.

Prick Your Finger hearts
Prick Your Finger offer these lovely knitted wool hearts that were knitted by Mary in the Shetlands: a steal at £4.50

Rob Ryan Valentines
He’s the king of romantic whimsy so I felt duty bound to include the now obligatory Rob Ryan laser cut piece Can We Shall We – miraculously there appear to still be some of these in stock at Soma Gallery. Grab em whilst you can.

Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith
Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith.

Lomography have brought out a special edition Diana F+ camera encrusted in naked people and a Fisheye 2 in syrupy sweet pink. If your lover is not yet a hipstamatic aficionado now may might be a good time for them to try analogue again.

I Heart Music by Liz Lewis
I Heart Music by Liz Lewis.

Flowers would never ever go amiss… so long as they haven’t been flown in from some beleaguered country far away.

LOVE by Lou Cloud
LOVE by Lou Cloud.

And I like jewellery. Don’t know why. I just do. I think it’s something about the fact that a treasured piece can be worn almost all the time as a reminder of someone’s devotion, which is why I respond very well to delicate pieces… particularly in gold.

Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea
Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea.

Speaking of which, the much anticipated UK Fairtrade ethical gold standard came into force only yesterday, so here’s hoping that it will soon become very much easier to buy luxury jewellery that is made without harm to people or planet. Because, after all, where’s the love in that?

Laura Gravestock
Love these rose gold pieces by Laura Gravestock, and quite reasonably priced too.

Oria-blossom-bird
Over at EC One ethical jewellery brand Oria (featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration) offer their lovely lovebird earrings – as illustrated in my book. Purrrrfect, and they come with a totally clear conscience.

Finally, if you’re looking for something to do that’s a bit out of the ordinary, how about a trip to the Museum of Everything to see the current Peter Blake curated exhibition for the last time? There will be things to watch all over the weekend, including live music, and a film showing.

Je t'aime by Anieszka Banks
Je t’aime by Anieszka Banks.

The School for Life is well known for hosting some ever so intriguing seminars. On February 14th they ask:
Who’d be in a relationship?
At its best, love can make us deliriously happy. At worst, it makes us more miserable than anything on earth. It robs us of our autonomy, freedom and financial independence. It can bring disillusion, heartbreak and betrayal.
Who’d be single?
We’re confined to the prison of our established and frequently very boring selves. At best, singleness allows us to be free agents, able to fulfill our desires. At worst, it drags us down to the depths of loneliness. It robs us of intimacy, personal engagement, and an understanding that true happiness is about giving oneself away. 

Paris by Joanna Faria
Paris by Joana Faria.

So why not book an evening with author Simon Critchley? He’ll be talking at The School for Life which is located at 70 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AB.

Elliott_Quince_Linocut_illustration Quinky Art
And if you’re still feeling a bit grumpy about the whole affair how about this free downloadable Zombie Valentines lino cut from Quinky Art?

No pressure on the boyfriend at all then. Between this lot there’s a little something for everyone don’t you think?

emma_block_Oria_jewellery
Oria Lovebird necklace as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Illustration by Emma Block.
valentines foxes by bex glover
Valentines Foxes by Bex Glover.

By now if you have any interest in the upcoming consumer fest that is Valentines Day you will probably already have read Hannah’s slightly bah humbug Valentines blog post, treatment which nevertheless gave some great tips on how to best celebrate this festival of luuuurve.

Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd
Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd. Available to buy as a print over on Society 6.

Last year I detailed how Valentines has been for me in the past – in almost every instance a non event unless I went to the trouble of sending friends and family something special.

jenny robins - red valentine
Red Valentine by Jenny Robins. You can buy her Book of Love here on Etsy.

But I’ve been in my current relationship for quite awhile now and this year Valentines Day throws up all sorts of new worries for me… Will he feel pressurised to take me out? Do I even want to go out and join the masses, cure now that the option may in fact be available? What do I feel about how I should be treated and what, at the end of the day, is the best expression of love? Don’t laugh, I’ve seriously never had to think about these things before: my love life has been that rubbish for so long.

valentine's day by Natsuki-Otani
LSD Love by Natsuki Otani – available to buy online at Society 6.

Well, unsurprisingly I have to say that my views remain pretty much the same as they did last year. For me the best way to show that you care about someone is to put a bit of thought into whatever you decide to do on Valentines Day, whether you are showing that kindness to friends and family or a special partner – something that it goes without saying should really be an ongoing year-round state of affairs.

youmakemetick by Adam Smith
youmakemetick by Adam Smith.

Whatever you do steer clear of the crazed demands to BUY BUY BUY, and instead think of what your loved one truly appreciates – which is most likely to be your time and your energy. For me receiving something hand made is always the most appreciated gift there is – time having become such a precious resource in itself. There are some really sweet ideas that cost barely a penny over on Hannah’s blog.

Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith
Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith.

Failing that a gift hand made by someone else is definitely a close second best. So in the spirit of collaboration I asked people to send me their hand made Valentines gift ideas via twitter – here’s my pick of the best:

Anko Fairy Steps pendant
Ankolie has contributed to Amelia’s Magazine as an illustrator – here’s her lovely little Fairy Steps necklace which features really cute heart links and a central cabochon that features one of her paintings, available on Etsy.

lovebirds-becca thorne
Becca Thorne offers this adorable love birds linoprint on Etsy.

stay over toothbrush pendant by plastic seconds
On the recycled jewellery front how about this jokey Stay Over toothbrush necklace from Plastic Seconds? Also seen in the ICA shop.

Prick Your Finger hearts
Prick Your Finger offer these lovely knitted wool hearts that were knitted by Mary in the Shetlands: a steal at £4.50

Rob Ryan Valentines
He’s the king of romantic whimsy so I felt duty bound to include the now obligatory Rob Ryan laser cut piece Can We Shall We – miraculously there appear to still be some of these in stock at Soma Gallery. Grab em whilst you can.

Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith
Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith.

Lomography have brought out a special edition Diana F+ camera encrusted in naked people and a Fisheye 2 in syrupy sweet pink. If your lover is not yet a hipstamatic aficionado now may might be a good time for them to try analogue again.

I Heart Music by Liz Lewis
I Heart Music by Liz Lewis.

Flowers would never ever go amiss… so long as they haven’t been flown in from some beleaguered country far away.

LOVE by Lou Cloud
LOVE by Lou Cloud.

And I like jewellery. Don’t know why. I just do. I think it’s something about the fact that a treasured piece can be worn almost all the time as a reminder of someone’s devotion, which is why I respond very well to delicate pieces… particularly in gold.

Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea
Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea.

Speaking of which, the much anticipated UK Fairtrade ethical gold standard came into force only yesterday, so here’s hoping that it will soon become very much easier to buy luxury jewellery that is made without harm to people or planet. Because, after all, where’s the love in that?

Laura Gravestock
Love these rose gold pieces by Laura Gravestock, and quite reasonably priced too.

Oria-blossom-bird
Over at EC One ethical jewellery brand Oria (featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration) offer their lovely lovebird earrings – as illustrated in my book. Purrrrfect, and they come with a totally clear conscience.

Finally, if you’re looking for something to do that’s a bit out of the ordinary, how about a trip to the Museum of Everything to see the current Peter Blake curated exhibition for the last time? There will be things to watch all over the weekend, including live music, and a film showing.

Je t'aime by Anieszka Banks
Je t’aime by Anieszka Banks.

The School for Life is well known for hosting some ever so intriguing seminars. On February 14th they ask:
Who’d be in a relationship?
At its best, love can make us deliriously happy. At worst, it makes us more miserable than anything on earth. It robs us of our autonomy, freedom and financial independence. It can bring disillusion, heartbreak and betrayal.
Who’d be single?
We’re confined to the prison of our established and frequently very boring selves. At best, singleness allows us to be free agents, able to fulfill our desires. At worst, it drags us down to the depths of loneliness. It robs us of intimacy, personal engagement, and an understanding that true happiness is about giving oneself away. 

Paris by Joanna Faria
Paris by Joana Faria.

So why not book an evening with author Simon Critchley? He’ll be talking at The School for Life which is located at 70 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AB.

Elliott_Quince_Linocut_illustration Quinky Art
And if you’re still feeling a bit grumpy about the whole affair how about this free downloadable Zombie Valentines lino cut from Quinky Art?

No pressure on the boyfriend at all then. Between this lot there’s a little something for everyone don’t you think?

emma_block_Oria_jewellery
Oria Lovebird necklace as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Illustration by Emma Block.

To read more about my abysmal love life see my previous Valentines blog of 2010.
valentines foxes by bex glover
Valentines Foxes by Bex Glover.

By now if you have any interest in the upcoming consumer fest that is Valentines Day you will probably already have read Hannah’s slightly bah humbug Valentines blog post, sildenafil which nevertheless gave some great tips on how to best celebrate this festival of luuuurve.

Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd
Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd. Available to buy as a print over on Society 6.

Last year I detailed how Valentines has been for me in the past – in almost every instance a non event unless I went to the trouble of sending friends and family something special.

jenny robins - red valentine
Red Valentine by Jenny Robins. You can buy her Book of Love here on Etsy.

But I’ve been in my current relationship for quite awhile now and this year Valentines Day throws up all sorts of new worries for me… Will he feel pressurised to take me out? Do I even want to go out and join the masses, website now that the option may in fact be available? What do I feel about how I should be treated and what, at the end of the day, is the best expression of love? Don’t laugh, I’ve seriously never had to think about these things before: my love life has been that rubbish for so long.

valentine's day by Natsuki-Otani
LSD Love by Natsuki Otani – available to buy online at Society 6.

Well, unsurprisingly I have to say that my views remain pretty much the same as they did last year. For me the best way to show that you care about someone is to put a bit of thought into whatever you decide to do on Valentines Day, whether you are showing that kindness to friends and family or a special partner – something that it goes without saying should really be an ongoing year-round state of affairs.

youmakemetick by Adam Smith
youmakemetick by Adam Smith.

Whatever you do steer clear of the crazed demands to BUY BUY BUY, and instead think of what your loved one truly appreciates – which is most likely to be your time and your energy. For me receiving something hand made is always the most appreciated gift there is – time having become such a precious resource in itself. There are some really sweet ideas that cost barely a penny over on Hannah’s blog.

Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith
Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith.

Failing that a gift hand made by someone else is definitely a close second best. So in the spirit of collaboration I asked people to send me their hand made Valentines gift ideas via twitter – here’s my pick of the best:

Anko Fairy Steps pendant
Ankolie has contributed to Amelia’s Magazine as an illustrator – here’s her lovely little Fairy Steps necklace which features really cute heart links and a central cabochon that features one of her paintings, available on Etsy.

lovebirds-becca thorne
Becca Thorne offers this adorable love birds linoprint on Etsy.

stay over toothbrush pendant by plastic seconds
On the recycled jewellery front how about this jokey Stay Over toothbrush necklace from Plastic Seconds? Also seen in the ICA shop.

Prick Your Finger hearts
Prick Your Finger offer these lovely knitted wool hearts that were knitted by Mary in the Shetlands: a steal at £4.50

Rob Ryan Valentines
He’s the king of romantic whimsy so I felt duty bound to include the now obligatory Rob Ryan laser cut piece Can We Shall We – miraculously there appear to still be some of these in stock at Soma Gallery. Grab em whilst you can.

Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith
Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith.

Lomography have brought out a special edition Diana F+ camera encrusted in naked people and a Fisheye 2 in syrupy sweet pink. If your lover is not yet a hipstamatic aficionado now may might be a good time for them to try analogue again.

I Heart Music by Liz Lewis
I Heart Music by Liz Lewis.

Flowers would never ever go amiss… so long as they haven’t been flown in from some beleaguered country far away.

LOVE by Lou Cloud
LOVE by Lou Cloud.

And I like jewellery. Don’t know why. I just do. I think it’s something about the fact that a treasured piece can be worn almost all the time as a reminder of someone’s devotion, which is why I respond very well to delicate pieces… particularly in gold.

Laura Gravestock
Love these rose gold pieces by Laura Gravestock, and quite reasonably priced too.

Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea
Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea.

Speaking of which, the much anticipated UK Fairtrade ethical gold standard came into force only yesterday, so here’s hoping that it will soon become very much easier to buy luxury jewellery that is made without harm to people or planet. Because, after all, where’s the love in that?

Oria-blossom-bird
Over at EC One ethical jewellery brand Oria (featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration) offer their lovely lovebird earrings – as illustrated in my book. Purrrrfect, and they come with a totally clear conscience.

Finally, if you’re looking for something to do that’s a bit out of the ordinary, how about a trip to the Museum of Everything to see the current Peter Blake curated exhibition for the last time? There will be things to watch all over the weekend, including live music, and a film showing.

Je t'aime by Anieszka Banks
Je t’aime by Anieszka Banks.

The School for Life is well known for hosting some ever so intriguing seminars. On February 14th they ask:
Who’d be in a relationship?
At its best, love can make us deliriously happy. At worst, it makes us more miserable than anything on earth. It robs us of our autonomy, freedom and financial independence. It can bring disillusion, heartbreak and betrayal.
Who’d be single?
We’re confined to the prison of our established and frequently very boring selves. At best, singleness allows us to be free agents, able to fulfill our desires. At worst, it drags us down to the depths of loneliness. It robs us of intimacy, personal engagement, and an understanding that true happiness is about giving oneself away. 

Paris by Joanna Faria
Paris by Joana Faria.

So why not book an evening with author Simon Critchley? He’ll be talking at The School for Life which is located at 70 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AB.

Elliott_Quince_Linocut_illustration Quinky Art
And if you’re still feeling a bit grumpy about the whole affair how about this free downloadable Zombie Valentines lino cut from Quinky Art?

No pressure on the boyfriend at all then. Between this lot there’s a little something for everyone don’t you think?

emma_block_Oria_jewellery
Oria Lovebird necklace as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Illustration by Emma Block.

To read more about my abysmal love life see my previous Valentines blog of 2010.
valentines foxes by bex glover
Valentines Foxes by Bex Glover.

By now if you have any interest in the upcoming consumer fest that is Valentines Day you will probably already have read Hannah’s slightly bah humbug Valentines blog post, there which nevertheless gave some great tips on how to best celebrate this festival of luuuurve.

Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd
Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd. Available to buy as a print over on Society 6.

Last year I detailed how Valentines has been for me in the past – in almost every instance a non event unless I went to the trouble of sending friends and family something special.

jenny robins - red valentine
Red Valentine by Jenny Robins. You can buy her Book of Love here on Etsy.

But I’ve been in my current relationship for quite awhile now and this year Valentines Day throws up all sorts of new worries for me… Will he feel pressurised to take me out? Do I even want to go out and join the masses, mind now that the option may in fact be available? What do I feel about how I should be treated and what, order at the end of the day, is the best expression of love? Don’t laugh, I’ve seriously never had to think about these things before: my love life has been that rubbish for so long.

valentine's day by Natsuki-Otani
LSD Love by Natsuki Otani – available to buy online at Society 6.

Well, unsurprisingly I have to say that my views remain pretty much the same as they did last year. For me the best way to show that you care about someone is to put a bit of thought into whatever you decide to do on Valentines Day, whether you are showing that kindness to friends and family or a special partner – something that it goes without saying should really be an ongoing year-round state of affairs.

youmakemetick by Adam Smith
youmakemetick by Adam Smith.

Whatever you do steer clear of the crazed demands to BUY BUY BUY, and instead think of what your loved one truly appreciates – which is most likely to be your time and your energy. For me receiving something hand made is always the most appreciated gift there is – time having become such a precious resource in itself. There are some really sweet ideas that cost barely a penny over on Hannah’s blog.

Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith
Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith.

Failing that a gift hand made by someone else is definitely a close second best. So in the spirit of collaboration I asked people to send me their hand made Valentines gift ideas via twitter – here’s my pick of the best:

Anko Fairy Steps pendant
Ankolie has contributed to Amelia’s Magazine as an illustrator – here’s her lovely little Fairy Steps necklace which features really cute heart links and a central cabochon that features one of her paintings, available on Etsy.

lovebirds-becca thorne
Becca Thorne offers this adorable love birds linoprint on Etsy.

stay over toothbrush pendant by plastic seconds
On the recycled jewellery front how about this jokey Stay Over toothbrush necklace from Plastic Seconds? Also seen in the ICA shop.

Prick Your Finger hearts
Prick Your Finger offer these lovely knitted wool hearts that were knitted by Mary in the Shetlands: a steal at £4.50

Rob Ryan Valentines
He’s the king of romantic whimsy so I felt duty bound to include the now obligatory Rob Ryan laser cut piece Can We Shall We – miraculously there appear to still be some of these in stock at Soma Gallery. Grab em whilst you can.

Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith
Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith.

Lomography have brought out a special edition Diana F+ camera encrusted in naked people and a Fisheye 2 in syrupy sweet pink. If your lover is not yet a hipstamatic aficionado now may might be a good time for them to try analogue again.

I Heart Music by Liz Lewis
I Heart Music by Liz Lewis.

Flowers would never ever go amiss… so long as they haven’t been flown in from some beleaguered country far away.

LOVE by Lou Cloud
LOVE by Lou Cloud.

And I like jewellery. Don’t know why. I just do. I think it’s something about the fact that a treasured piece can be worn almost all the time as a reminder of someone’s devotion, which is why I respond very well to delicate pieces… particularly in gold.

Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea
Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea.

Speaking of which, the much anticipated UK Fairtrade ethical gold standard came into force only yesterday, so here’s hoping that it will soon become very much easier to buy luxury jewellery that is made without harm to people or planet. Because, after all, where’s the love in that?

Laura Gravestock
Love these rose gold pieces by Laura Gravestock, and quite reasonably priced too.

Oria-blossom-bird
Over at EC One ethical jewellery brand Oria (featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration) offer their lovely lovebird earrings – as illustrated in my book. Purrrrfect, and they come with a totally clear conscience.

Finally, if you’re looking for something to do that’s a bit out of the ordinary, how about a trip to the Museum of Everything to see the current Peter Blake curated exhibition for the last time? There will be things to watch all over the weekend, including live music, and a film showing.

Je t'aime by Anieszka Banks
Je t’aime by Anieszka Banks.

The School for Life is well known for hosting some ever so intriguing seminars. On February 14th they ask:
Who’d be in a relationship?
At its best, love can make us deliriously happy. At worst, it makes us more miserable than anything on earth. It robs us of our autonomy, freedom and financial independence. It can bring disillusion, heartbreak and betrayal.
Who’d be single?
We’re confined to the prison of our established and frequently very boring selves. At best, singleness allows us to be free agents, able to fulfill our desires. At worst, it drags us down to the depths of loneliness. It robs us of intimacy, personal engagement, and an understanding that true happiness is about giving oneself away. 

Paris by Joanna Faria
Paris by Joana Faria.

So why not book an evening with author Simon Critchley? He’ll be talking at The School for Life which is located at 70 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AB.

Elliott_Quince_Linocut_illustration Quinky Art
And if you’re still feeling a bit grumpy about the whole affair how about this free downloadable Zombie Valentines lino cut from Quinky Art?

No pressure on the boyfriend at all then. Between this lot there’s a little something for everyone don’t you think?

emma_block_Oria_jewellery
Oria Lovebird necklace as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Illustration by Emma Block.
valentines foxes by bex glover
Valentines Foxes by Bex Glover.

By now if you have any interest in the upcoming consumer fest that is Valentines Day you will probably already have read Hannah’s slightly bah humbug Valentines blog post, pills which nevertheless gave some great tips on how to best celebrate this festival of luuuurve.

Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd
Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd. Available to buy as a print over on Society 6.

Last year I detailed how Valentines has been for me in the past – in almost every instance a non event unless I went to the trouble of sending friends and family something special.

jenny robins - red valentine
Red Valentine by Jenny Robins. You can buy her Book of Love here on Etsy.

But I’ve been in my current relationship for quite awhile now and this year Valentines Day throws up all sorts of new worries for me… Will he feel pressurised to take me out? Do I even want to go out and join the masses, viagra buy now that the option may in fact be available? What do I feel about how I should be treated and what, erectile at the end of the day, is the best expression of love? Don’t laugh, I’ve seriously never had to think about these things before: my love life has been that rubbish for so long.

valentine's day by Natsuki-Otani
LSD Love by Natsuki Otani – available to buy online at Society 6.

Well, unsurprisingly I have to say that my views remain pretty much the same as they did last year. For me the best way to show that you care about someone is to put a bit of thought into whatever you decide to do on Valentines Day, whether you are showing that kindness to friends and family or a special partner – something that it goes without saying should really be an ongoing year-round state of affairs.

youmakemetick by Adam Smith
youmakemetick by Adam Smith.

Whatever you do steer clear of the crazed demands to BUY BUY BUY, and instead think of what your loved one truly appreciates – which is most likely to be your time and your energy. For me receiving something hand made is always the most appreciated gift there is – time having become such a precious resource in itself. There are some really sweet ideas that cost barely a penny over on Hannah’s blog.

Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith
Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith.

Failing that a gift hand made by someone else is definitely a close second best. So in the spirit of collaboration I asked people to send me their hand made Valentines gift ideas via twitter – here’s my pick of the best:

Anko Fairy Steps pendant
Ankolie has contributed to Amelia’s Magazine as an illustrator – here’s her lovely little Fairy Steps necklace which features really cute heart links and a central cabochon that features one of her paintings, available on Etsy.

lovebirds-becca thorne
Becca Thorne offers this adorable love birds linoprint on Etsy.

stay over toothbrush pendant by plastic seconds
On the recycled jewellery front how about this jokey Stay Over toothbrush necklace from Plastic Seconds? Also seen in the ICA shop.

Prick Your Finger hearts
Prick Your Finger offer these lovely knitted wool hearts that were knitted by Mary in the Shetlands: a steal at £4.50

Rob Ryan Valentines
He’s the king of romantic whimsy so I felt duty bound to include the now obligatory Rob Ryan laser cut piece Can We Shall We – miraculously there appear to still be some of these in stock at Soma Gallery. Grab em whilst you can.

Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith
Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith.

Lomography have brought out a special edition Diana F+ camera encrusted in naked people and a Fisheye 2 in syrupy sweet pink. If your lover is not yet a hipstamatic aficionado now may might be a good time for them to try analogue again.

I Heart Music by Liz Lewis
I Heart Music by Liz Lewis.

Flowers would never ever go amiss… so long as they haven’t been flown in from some beleaguered country far away.

LOVE by Lou Cloud
LOVE by Lou Cloud.

And I like jewellery. Don’t know why. I just do. I think it’s something about the fact that a treasured piece can be worn almost all the time as a reminder of someone’s devotion, which is why I respond very well to delicate pieces… particularly in gold.

Laura Gravestock
Love these rose gold pieces by Laura Gravestock, and quite reasonably priced too.

Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea
Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea.

Speaking of which, the much anticipated UK Fairtrade ethical gold standard came into force only yesterday, so here’s hoping that it will soon become very much easier to buy luxury jewellery that is made without harm to people or planet. Because, after all, where’s the love in that?

Oria-blossom-bird
Over at EC One ethical jewellery brand Oria (featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration) offer their lovely lovebird earrings – as illustrated in my book. Purrrrfect, and they come with a totally clear conscience.

Finally, if you’re looking for something to do that’s a bit out of the ordinary, how about a trip to the Museum of Everything to see the current Peter Blake curated exhibition for the last time? There will be things to watch all over the weekend, including live music, and a film showing.

Je t'aime by Anieszka Banks
Je t’aime by Anieszka Banks.

The School for Life is well known for hosting some ever so intriguing seminars. On February 14th they ask:
Who’d be in a relationship?
At its best, love can make us deliriously happy. At worst, it makes us more miserable than anything on earth. It robs us of our autonomy, freedom and financial independence. It can bring disillusion, heartbreak and betrayal.
Who’d be single?
We’re confined to the prison of our established and frequently very boring selves. At best, singleness allows us to be free agents, able to fulfill our desires. At worst, it drags us down to the depths of loneliness. It robs us of intimacy, personal engagement, and an understanding that true happiness is about giving oneself away. 

Paris by Joanna Faria
Paris by Joana Faria.

So why not book an evening with author Simon Critchley? He’ll be talking at The School for Life which is located at 70 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AB.

Elliott_Quince_Linocut_illustration Quinky Art
And if you’re still feeling a bit grumpy about the whole affair how about this free downloadable Zombie Valentines lino cut from Quinky Art?

No pressure on the boyfriend at all then. Between this lot there’s a little something for everyone don’t you think?

emma_block_Oria_jewellery
Oria Lovebird necklace as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Illustration by Emma Block.

To read more about my abysmal love life see my previous Valentines blog of 2010.
valentines foxes by bex glover
Valentines Foxes by Bex Glover.

By now if you have any interest in the upcoming consumer fest that is Valentines Day you will probably already have read Hannah’s slightly bah humbug Valentines blog post, find which nevertheless gave some great tips on how to best celebrate this festival of luuuurve.

Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd
Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd. Available to buy as a print over on Society 6.

Last year I detailed how Valentines has been for me in the past – in almost every instance a non event unless I went to the trouble of sending friends and family something special.

jenny robins - red valentine
Red Valentine by Jenny Robins. You can buy her Book of Love here on Etsy.

But I’ve been in my current relationship for quite awhile now and this year Valentines Day throws up all sorts of new worries for me… Will he feel pressurised to take me out? Do I even want to go out and join the masses, order now that the option may in fact be available? What do I feel about how I should be treated and what, order at the end of the day, is the best expression of love? Don’t laugh, I’ve seriously never had to think about these things before: my love life has been that rubbish for so long.

valentine's day by Natsuki-Otani
LSD Love by Natsuki Otani – available to buy online at Society 6.

Well, unsurprisingly I have to say that my views remain pretty much the same as they did last year. For me the best way to show that you care about someone is to put a bit of thought into whatever you decide to do on Valentines Day, whether you are showing that kindness to friends and family or a special partner – something that it goes without saying should really be an ongoing year-round state of affairs.

youmakemetick by Adam Smith
youmakemetick by Adam Smith.

Whatever you do steer clear of the crazed demands to BUY BUY BUY, and instead think of what your loved one truly appreciates – which is most likely to be your time and your energy. For me receiving something hand made is always the most appreciated gift there is – time having become such a precious resource in itself. There are some really sweet ideas that cost barely a penny over on Hannah’s blog.

Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith
Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith.

Failing that a gift hand made by someone else is definitely a close second best. So in the spirit of collaboration I asked people to send me their hand made Valentines gift ideas via twitter – here’s my pick of the best:

Anko Fairy Steps pendant
Ankolie has contributed to Amelia’s Magazine as an illustrator – here’s her lovely little Fairy Steps necklace which features really cute heart links and a central cabochon that features one of her paintings, available on Etsy.

lovebirds-becca thorne
Becca Thorne offers this adorable love birds linoprint on Etsy.

stay over toothbrush pendant by plastic seconds
On the recycled jewellery front how about this jokey Stay Over toothbrush necklace from Plastic Seconds? Also seen in the ICA shop.

Prick Your Finger hearts
Prick Your Finger offer these lovely knitted wool hearts that were knitted by Mary in the Shetlands: a steal at £4.50

Rob Ryan Valentines
He’s the king of romantic whimsy so I felt duty bound to include the now obligatory Rob Ryan laser cut piece Can We Shall We – miraculously there appear to still be some of these in stock at Soma Gallery. Grab em whilst you can.

Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith
Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith.

Lomography have brought out a special edition Diana F+ camera encrusted in naked people and a Fisheye 2 in syrupy sweet pink. If your lover is not yet a hipstamatic aficionado now may might be a good time for them to try analogue again.

I Heart Music by Liz Lewis
I Heart Music by Liz Lewis.

Flowers would never ever go amiss… so long as they haven’t been flown in from some beleaguered country far away.

LOVE by Lou Cloud
LOVE by Lou Cloud.

And I like jewellery. Don’t know why. I just do. I think it’s something about the fact that a treasured piece can be worn almost all the time as a reminder of someone’s devotion, which is why I respond very well to delicate pieces… particularly in gold.

Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea
Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea.

Speaking of which, the much anticipated UK Fairtrade ethical gold standard came into force only yesterday, so here’s hoping that it will soon become very much easier to buy luxury jewellery that is made without harm to people or planet. Because, after all, where’s the love in that?

Laura Gravestock
Love these rose gold pieces by Laura Gravestock, and quite reasonably priced too.

Oria-blossom-bird
Over at EC One ethical jewellery brand Oria (featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration) offer their lovely lovebird earrings – as illustrated in my book. Purrrrfect, and they come with a totally clear conscience.

Finally, if you’re looking for something to do that’s a bit out of the ordinary, how about a trip to the Museum of Everything to see the current Peter Blake curated exhibition for the last time? There will be things to watch all over the weekend, including live music, and a film showing.

Je t'aime by Anieszka Banks
Je t’aime by Anieszka Banks.

The School for Life is well known for hosting some ever so intriguing seminars. On February 14th they ask:
Who’d be in a relationship?
At its best, love can make us deliriously happy. At worst, it makes us more miserable than anything on earth. It robs us of our autonomy, freedom and financial independence. It can bring disillusion, heartbreak and betrayal.
Who’d be single?
We’re confined to the prison of our established and frequently very boring selves. At best, singleness allows us to be free agents, able to fulfill our desires. At worst, it drags us down to the depths of loneliness. It robs us of intimacy, personal engagement, and an understanding that true happiness is about giving oneself away. 

Paris by Joanna Faria
Paris by Joana Faria.

So why not book an evening with author Simon Critchley? He’ll be talking at The School for Life which is located at 70 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AB.

Elliott_Quince_Linocut_illustration Quinky Art
And if you’re still feeling a bit grumpy about the whole affair how about this free downloadable Zombie Valentines lino cut from Quinky Art?

No pressure on the boyfriend at all then. But between this lot there’s a little something for everyone don’t you think? Especially the ladies amongst us…

emma_block_Oria_jewellery
Oria Lovebird necklace as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Illustration by Emma Block.
valentines foxes by bex glover
Valentines Foxes by Bex Glover.

By now if you have any interest in the upcoming consumer fest that is Valentines Day you will probably already have read Hannah’s slightly bah humbug Valentines blog post, tadalafil which nevertheless gave some great tips on how to best celebrate this festival of luuuurve.

Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd
Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd. Available to buy as a print over on Society 6.

Last year I detailed how Valentines has been for me in the past – in almost every instance a non event unless I went to the trouble of sending friends and family something special.

jenny robins - red valentine
Red Valentine by Jenny Robins. You can buy her Book of Love here on Etsy.

But I’ve been in my current relationship for quite awhile now and this year Valentines Day throws up all sorts of new worries for me… Will he feel pressurised to take me out? Do I even want to go out and join the masses, approved now that the option may in fact be available? What do I feel about how I should be treated and what, at the end of the day, is the best expression of love? Don’t laugh, I’ve seriously never had to think about these things before: my love life has been that rubbish for so long.

valentine's day by Natsuki-Otani
LSD Love by Natsuki Otani – available to buy online at Society 6.

Well, unsurprisingly I have to say that my views remain pretty much the same as they did last year. For me the best way to show that you care about someone is to put a bit of thought into whatever you decide to do on Valentines Day, whether you are showing that kindness to friends and family or a special partner – something that it goes without saying should really be an ongoing year-round state of affairs.

youmakemetick by Adam Smith
youmakemetick by Adam Smith.

Whatever you do steer clear of the crazed demands to BUY BUY BUY, and instead think of what your loved one truly appreciates – which is most likely to be your time and your energy. For me receiving something hand made is always the most appreciated gift there is – time having become such a precious resource in itself. There are some really sweet ideas that cost barely a penny over on Hannah’s blog.

Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith
Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith.

Failing that a gift hand made by someone else is definitely a close second best. So in the spirit of collaboration I asked people to send me their hand made Valentines gift ideas via twitter – here’s my pick of the best:

Anko Fairy Steps pendant
Ankolie has contributed to Amelia’s Magazine as an illustrator – here’s her lovely little Fairy Steps necklace which features really cute heart links and a central cabochon that features one of her paintings, available on Etsy.

lovebirds-becca thorne
Becca Thorne offers this adorable love birds linoprint on Etsy.

stay over toothbrush pendant by plastic seconds
On the recycled jewellery front how about this jokey Stay Over toothbrush necklace from Plastic Seconds? Also seen in the ICA shop.

Prick Your Finger hearts
Prick Your Finger offer these lovely knitted wool hearts that were knitted by Mary in the Shetlands: a steal at £4.50

Rob Ryan Valentines
He’s the king of romantic whimsy so I felt duty bound to include the now obligatory Rob Ryan laser cut piece Can We Shall We – miraculously there appear to still be some of these in stock at Soma Gallery. Grab em whilst you can.

Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith
Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith.

Lomography have brought out a special edition Diana F+ camera encrusted in naked people and a Fisheye 2 in syrupy sweet pink. If your lover is not yet a hipstamatic aficionado now may might be a good time for them to try analogue again.

I Heart Music by Liz Lewis
I Heart Music by Liz Lewis.

Flowers would never ever go amiss… so long as they haven’t been flown in from some beleaguered country far away.

LOVE by Lou Cloud
LOVE by Lou Cloud.

And I like jewellery. Don’t know why. I just do. I think it’s something about the fact that a treasured piece can be worn almost all the time as a reminder of someone’s devotion, which is why I respond very well to delicate pieces… particularly in gold.

Laura Gravestock
Love these rose gold pieces by Laura Gravestock, and quite reasonably priced too.

Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea
Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea.

Speaking of which, the much anticipated UK Fairtrade ethical gold standard came into force only yesterday, so here’s hoping that it will soon become very much easier to buy luxury jewellery that is made without harm to people or planet. Because, after all, where’s the love in that?

Oria-blossom-bird
Over at EC One ethical jewellery brand Oria (featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration) offer their lovely lovebird earrings – as illustrated in my book. Purrrrfect, and they come with a totally clear conscience.

Finally, if you’re looking for something to do that’s a bit out of the ordinary, how about a trip to the Museum of Everything to see the current Peter Blake curated exhibition for the last time? There will be things to watch all over the weekend, including live music, and a film showing.

Je t'aime by Anieszka Banks
Je t’aime by Anieszka Banks.

The School for Life is well known for hosting some ever so intriguing seminars. On February 14th they ask:
Who’d be in a relationship?
At its best, love can make us deliriously happy. At worst, it makes us more miserable than anything on earth. It robs us of our autonomy, freedom and financial independence. It can bring disillusion, heartbreak and betrayal.
Who’d be single?
We’re confined to the prison of our established and frequently very boring selves. At best, singleness allows us to be free agents, able to fulfill our desires. At worst, it drags us down to the depths of loneliness. It robs us of intimacy, personal engagement, and an understanding that true happiness is about giving oneself away. 

Paris by Joanna Faria
Paris by Joana Faria.

So why not book an evening with author Simon Critchley? He’ll be talking at The School for Life which is located at 70 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AB.

Elliott_Quince_Linocut_illustration Quinky Art
And if you’re still feeling a bit grumpy about the whole affair how about this free downloadable Zombie Valentines lino cut from Quinky Art?

No pressure on the boyfriend at all then. But between this lot there’s a little something for everyone don’t you think? Especially the ladies amongst us…

emma_block_Oria_jewellery
Oria Lovebird necklace as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Illustration by Emma Block.

You can read more about my abysmal love life in my Valentines blog post from 2010.
valentines foxes by bex glover
Valentines Foxes by Bex Glover.

By now if you have any interest in the upcoming consumer fest that is Valentines Day you will probably already have read Hannah’s slightly bah humbug Valentines blog post, web which nevertheless gave some great tips on how to best celebrate this festival of luuuurve.

Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd
Peacock Heart by Jenny Lloyd. Available to buy as a print over on Society 6.

Last year I detailed how Valentines has been for me in the past – in almost every instance a non event unless I went to the trouble of sending friends and family something special.

jenny robins - red valentine
Red Valentine by Jenny Robins. You can buy her Book of Love here on Etsy.

But I’ve been in my current relationship for quite awhile now and this year Valentines Day throws up all sorts of new worries for me… Will he feel pressurised to take me out? Do I even want to go out and join the masses, now that the option may in fact be available? What do I feel about how I should be treated and what, at the end of the day, is the best expression of love? Don’t laugh, I’ve seriously never had to think about these things before: my love life has been that rubbish for so long.

valentine's day by Natsuki-Otani
LSD Love by Natsuki Otani – available to buy online at Society 6.

Well, unsurprisingly I have to say that my views remain pretty much the same as they did last year. For me the best way to show that you care about someone is to put a bit of thought into whatever you decide to do on Valentines Day, whether you are showing that kindness to friends and family or a special partner – something that it goes without saying should really be an ongoing year-round state of affairs.

youmakemetick by Adam Smith
youmakemetick by Adam Smith.

Whatever you do steer clear of the crazed demands to BUY BUY BUY, and instead think of what your loved one truly appreciates – which is most likely to be your time and your energy. For me receiving something hand made is always the most appreciated gift there is – time having become such a precious resource in itself. There are some really sweet ideas that cost barely a penny over on Hannah’s blog.

Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith
Valentines Icecream by Gemma Smith.

Failing that a gift hand made by someone else is definitely a close second best. So in the spirit of collaboration I asked people to send me their hand made Valentines gift ideas via twitter – here’s my pick of the best:

Anko Fairy Steps pendant
Ankolie has contributed to Amelia’s Magazine as an illustrator – here’s her lovely little Fairy Steps necklace which features really cute heart links and a central cabochon that features one of her paintings, available on Etsy.

lovebirds-becca thorne
Becca Thorne offers this adorable love birds linoprint on Etsy.

stay over toothbrush pendant by plastic seconds
On the recycled jewellery front how about this jokey Stay Over toothbrush necklace from Plastic Seconds? Also seen in the ICA shop.

Prick Your Finger hearts
Prick Your Finger offer these lovely knitted wool hearts that were knitted by Mary in the Shetlands: a steal at £4.50

Rob Ryan Valentines
He’s the king of romantic whimsy so I felt duty bound to include the now obligatory Rob Ryan laser cut piece Can We Shall We – miraculously there appear to still be some of these in stock at Soma Gallery. Grab em whilst you can.

Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith
Valentines fisheye camera by Gemma Smith.

Lomography have brought out a special edition Diana F+ camera encrusted in naked people and a Fisheye 2 in syrupy sweet pink. If your lover is not yet a hipstamatic aficionado now may might be a good time for them to try analogue again.

I Heart Music by Liz Lewis
I Heart Music by Liz Lewis.

Flowers would never ever go amiss… so long as they haven’t been flown in from some beleaguered country far away.

LOVE by Lou Cloud
LOVE by Lou Cloud.

And I like jewellery. Don’t know why. I just do. I think it’s something about the fact that a treasured piece can be worn almost all the time as a reminder of someone’s devotion, which is why I respond very well to delicate pieces… particularly in gold.

Laura Gravestock
Love these rose gold pieces by Laura Gravestock, and quite reasonably priced too.

Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea
Peppermint Patty. An oil painting by Artist Andrea.

Speaking of which, the much anticipated UK Fairtrade ethical gold standard came into force only yesterday, so here’s hoping that it will soon become very much easier to buy luxury jewellery that is made without harm to people or planet. Because, after all, where’s the love in that?

Oria-blossom-bird
Over at EC One ethical jewellery brand Oria (featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration) offer their lovely lovebird earrings – as illustrated in my book. Purrrrfect, and they come with a totally clear conscience.

Finally, if you’re looking for something to do that’s a bit out of the ordinary, how about a trip to the Museum of Everything to see the current Peter Blake curated exhibition for the last time? There will be things to watch all over the weekend, including live music, and a film showing.

Je t'aime by Anieszka Banks
Je t’aime by Anieszka Banks.

The School for Life is well known for hosting some ever so intriguing seminars. On February 14th they ask:
Who’d be in a relationship?
At its best, love can make us deliriously happy. At worst, it makes us more miserable than anything on earth. It robs us of our autonomy, freedom and financial independence. It can bring disillusion, heartbreak and betrayal.
Who’d be single?
We’re confined to the prison of our established and frequently very boring selves. At best, singleness allows us to be free agents, able to fulfill our desires. At worst, it drags us down to the depths of loneliness. It robs us of intimacy, personal engagement, and an understanding that true happiness is about giving oneself away. 

Paris by Joanna Faria
Paris by Joana Faria.

So why not book an evening with author Simon Critchley? He’ll be talking at The School for Life which is located at 70 Marchmont Street, London WC1N 1AB.

Elliott_Quince_Linocut_illustration Quinky Art
And if you’re still feeling a bit grumpy about the whole affair how about this free downloadable Zombie Valentines lino cut from Quinky Art?

No pressure on the boyfriend at all then. But between this lot there’s a little something for everyone don’t you think? Especially the ladies amongst us…

emma_block_Oria_jewellery
Oria Lovebird necklace as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Illustration by Emma Block.

You can read more about my abysmal love life in my Valentines blog post from 2010.

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, ailment ” announced Joan Wasser to introduce “Hard white wall”, this web a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig on Sunday. Never the shrinking violet, ask Joan stood centre-stage in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converged on her small frame. This was the seventh time I had seen Joan As Police Woman play in London.

The first time I saw Joan was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at the now defunct Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took to the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is that my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – perhaps in the same category as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – which deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way that isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling sorry for myself (on this last point, what I have learned is that boyfriends may come and go, but if you discover a good artist, they have an unparalleled reliance. Joan has consistently delivered the goods since her first album and that Spitz gig in 2006, which is far more than what can be said of any of my recent relationships).


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly from piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique vocals which can be spine-tingling, served tender or gruff. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date.

Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous material where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements; a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack out there today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and sprightly, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the so-called ‘library’ of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder during the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, embracing life and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that, but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands. The rest, I guess as they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands, which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arrangements, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone?
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I like to jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head, my own songwriting. I think that really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record, some of which I had been playing live. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed. I then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I had never recorded an album that way before. Before I would record what I had, decide what the record needed and then wrote the kind of song to fit the record. This time, the new approach was a great exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer where I feel very comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. Then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolutely glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I always think: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff. I have experienced a lot of things and it’s all been worth it, even though it was very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home just outside of New York. It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20-year-old Joan and 30-year-old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20-year-old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince, definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?” Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

For a free-three track download from the new record, click here.

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, order ” announced Joan Wasser to introduce “Hard white wall”, visit web a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig on Sunday. Never the shrinking violet, Joan stood centre-stage in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converged on her small frame. It was the seventh time I had seen Joan As Police Woman play in London.

The first time I saw Joan was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at the now defunct Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took to the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is that my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – perhaps classified in the same category as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – that deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling ridiculously self-pitiful. Yes, my one-sided relationship with Joan has roots man, she’s a sista.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly between piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique vocals which can be spine-tingling, served tender or gruff. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date.

Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous material where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements; a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack out there today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and sprightly, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the so-called ‘library’ of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder during the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, embracing life and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that, but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands. The rest, I guess as they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands, which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arrangements, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone?
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I like to jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head, my own songwriting. I think that really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record, some of which I had been playing live. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed. I then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I had never recorded an album that way before. Before I would record what I had, decide what the record needed and then wrote the kind of song to fit the record. This time, the new approach was a great exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer where I feel very comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. Then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolutely glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I always think: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff. I have experienced a lot of things and it’s all been worth it, even though it was very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home just outside of New York. It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20-year-old Joan and 30-year-old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20-year-old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince, definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?” Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

For a free-three track download from the new record, click here.

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, cheapest ” announced Joan Wasser to introduce “Hard white wall”, abortion a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig on Sunday. Never the shrinking violet, symptoms Joan stood centre-stage in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converged on her small frame. It was the seventh time I had seen Joan As Police Woman play in London.

The first time I saw Joan was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at the now defunct Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took to the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is that my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – perhaps classified in the same category as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – that deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling ridiculously self-pitiful. Yes, my one-sided relationship with Joan has roots man, she’s a sista.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly between piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique vocals which can be spine-tingling, served tender or gruff. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date.

Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous material where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements; a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack out there today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and sprightly, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the so-called ‘library’ of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder during the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, embracing life and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that, but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands. The rest, I guess as they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands, which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arrangements, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone?
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I like to jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head, my own songwriting. I think that really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record, some of which I had been playing live. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed. I then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I had never recorded an album that way before. Before I would record what I had, decide what the record needed and then wrote the kind of song to fit the record. This time, the new approach was a great exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer where I feel very comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. Then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolutely glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I always think: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff. I have experienced a lot of things and it’s all been worth it, even though it was very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home just outside of New York. It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20-year-old Joan and 30-year-old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20-year-old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince, definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?” Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

For a free-three track download from the new record, click here.

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, hospital ” announced Joan Wasser to introduce “Hard white wall”, a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig on Sunday. Never the shrinking violet, Joan stood centre-stage in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converged on her small frame. It was the seventh time I had seen Joan As Police Woman play in London.

The first time I saw Joan was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at the now defunct Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took to the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is that my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – perhaps classified in the same category as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – that deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling ridiculously self-pitiful. Yes, my one-sided relationship with Joan has roots man, she’s a sista.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly between piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique vocals which can be spine-tingling, served tender or gruff. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date.

Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous material where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements; a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack out there today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and sprightly, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the so-called ‘library’ of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder during the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, embracing life and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that, but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands. The rest, I guess as they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands, which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arrangements, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone?
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I like to jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head, my own songwriting. I think that really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record, some of which I had been playing live. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed. I then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I had never recorded an album that way before. Before I would record what I had, decide what the record needed and then wrote the kind of song to fit the record. This time, the new approach was a great exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer where I feel very comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. Then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolutely glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I always think: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff. I have experienced a lot of things and it’s all been worth it, even though it was very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home just outside of New York. It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20-year-old Joan and 30-year-old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20-year-old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince, definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?” Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

For a free-three track download from the new record, click here.

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, what is ed ” announced Joan Wasser to introduce “Hard white wall”, a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig on Sunday. Never the shrinking violet, Joan stood centre-stage in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converged on her small frame. It was the seventh time I had seen Joan As Police Woman play in London.

The first time I saw Joan was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at the now defunct Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took to the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is that my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – perhaps classified in the same category as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – that deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling ridiculously self-pitiful. Yes, my one-sided relationship with Joan has roots man, she’s a sista.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly between piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique vocals which can be spine-tingling, served tender or gruff. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date.

Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous material where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements; a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack out there today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and sprightly, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the so-called ‘library’ of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder during the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, embracing life and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that, but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands. The rest, I guess as they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands, which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arrangements, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone?
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I like to jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head, my own songwriting. I think that really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record, some of which I had been playing live. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed. I then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I had never recorded an album that way before. Before I would record what I had, decide what the record needed and then wrote the kind of song to fit the record. This time, the new approach was a great exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer where I feel very comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. Then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolutely glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I always think: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff. I have experienced a lot of things and it’s all been worth it, even though it was very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home just outside of New York. It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20-year-old Joan and 30-year-old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20-year-old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince, definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?” Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

For a free-three track download from the new record, click here.

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, tadalafil ” announced Joan Wasser to introduce “Hard white wall”, buy a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig on Sunday. Never the shrinking violet, Joan stood centre-stage in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converged on her small frame. It was the seventh time I had seen Joan As Police Woman play in London.

The first time I saw Joan was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at the now defunct Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took to the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is that my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – perhaps classified in the same category as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – that deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling ridiculously self-pitiful. Yes, my one-sided relationship with Joan has roots man, she’s a sista.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly between piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique vocals which can be spine-tingling, served tender or gruff. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date.

Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous material where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements; a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack out there today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and sprightly, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the so-called ‘library’ of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder during the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, embracing life and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that, but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands. The rest, I guess as they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands, which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arrangements, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone?
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I like to jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head, my own songwriting. I think that really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record, some of which I had been playing live. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed. I then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I had never recorded an album that way before. Before I would record what I had, decide what the record needed and then wrote the kind of song to fit the record. This time, the new approach was a great exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer where I feel very comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. Then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolutely glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I always think: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff. I have experienced a lot of things and it’s all been worth it, even though it was very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home just outside of New York. It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20-year-old Joan and 30-year-old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20-year-old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince, definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?” Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

For a free-three track download from the new record, click here.

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, diagnosis ” announced Joan Wasser to introduce “Hard white wall”, visit this site a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig on Sunday. Never the shrinking violet, Joan stood centre-stage in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converged on her small frame. It was the seventh time I had seen Joan As Police Woman play in London.

The first time I saw Joan was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at the now defunct Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took to the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is that my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – perhaps classified in the same category as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – that deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling ridiculously self-pitiful. Yes, my one-sided relationship with Joan has roots man, she’s a sista.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly between piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique vocals which can be spine-tingling, served tender or gruff. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date.

Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous material where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements; a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack out there today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and sprightly, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the so-called ‘library’ of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder during the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, embracing life and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that, but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands. The rest, I guess as they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands, which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arrangements, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone?
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I like to jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head, my own songwriting. I think that really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record, some of which I had been playing live. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed. I then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I had never recorded an album that way before. Before I would record what I had, decide what the record needed and then wrote the kind of song to fit the record. This time, the new approach was a great exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer where I feel very comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. Then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolutely glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I always think: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff. I have experienced a lot of things and it’s all been worth it, even though it was very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home just outside of New York. It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20-year-old Joan and 30-year-old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20-year-old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince, definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?” Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

For a free-three track download from the new record, click here.

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, health ” announced Joan Wasser to introduce “Hard white wall”, thumb a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig on Sunday. Never the shrinking violet, decease Joan stood centre-stage in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converged on her small frame. It was the seventh time I had seen Joan As Police Woman play in London.

The first time I saw Joan was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at the now defunct Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took to the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is that my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – perhaps classified in the same category as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – that deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling ridiculously self-pitiful. Yes, my one-sided relationship with Joan has roots man, she’s a sista.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly between piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique vocals which can be spine-tingling, served tender or gruff. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date.

Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous material where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements; a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack out there today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and sprightly, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the so-called ‘library’ of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder during the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, embracing life and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that, but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands. The rest, I guess as they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands, which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arrangements, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone?
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I like to jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head, my own songwriting. I think that really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record, some of which I had been playing live. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed. I then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I had never recorded an album that way before. Before I would record what I had, decide what the record needed and then wrote the kind of song to fit the record. This time, the new approach was a great exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer where I feel very comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. Then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolutely glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I always think: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff. I have experienced a lot of things and it’s all been worth it, even though it was very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home just outside of New York. It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20-year-old Joan and 30-year-old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20-year-old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince, definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?” Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

For a free-three track download from the new record, click here.

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, erectile ” announced Joan Wasser to introduce “Hard white wall”, decease a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig on Sunday. Never the shrinking violet, Joan stood centre-stage in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converged on her small frame. It was the seventh time I had seen Joan As Police Woman play in London.

The first time I saw Joan was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at the now defunct Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took to the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is that my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – perhaps classified in the same category as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – that deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling ridiculously self-pitiful. Yes, my one-sided relationship with Joan has roots man, she’s a sista.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly between piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique vocals which can be spine-tingling, served tender or gruff. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date.

Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous material where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements; a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack out there today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and sprightly, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the so-called ‘library’ of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder during the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, embracing life and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that, but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands. The rest, I guess as they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands, which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arrangements, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone?
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I like to jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head, my own songwriting. I think that really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record, some of which I had been playing live. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed. I then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I had never recorded an album that way before. Before I would record what I had, decide what the record needed and then wrote the kind of song to fit the record. This time, the new approach was a great exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer where I feel very comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. Then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolutely glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I always think: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff. I have experienced a lot of things and it’s all been worth it, even though it was very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home just outside of New York. It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20-year-old Joan and 30-year-old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20-year-old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince, definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?” Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

For a free-three track download from the new record, click here.

Joan As Police Woman – The Magic YouTube Preview Image

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, ” announced Joan Wasser to introduce “Hard white wall”, a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig on Sunday. Never the shrinking violet, Joan stood centre-stage in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converged on her small frame. It was the seventh time I had seen Joan As Police Woman play in London.

The first time I saw Joan was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at the now defunct Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took to the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is that my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – perhaps classified in the same category as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – that deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling ridiculously self-pitiful. Yes, my one-sided relationship with Joan has roots man, she’s a sista.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly between piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique vocals which can be spine-tingling, served tender or gruff. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date.

Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous material where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements; a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack out there today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and sprightly, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the so-called ‘library’ of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder during the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, embracing life and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that, but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands. The rest, I guess as they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands, which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arrangements, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone?
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I like to jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head, my own songwriting. I think that really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record, some of which I had been playing live. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed. I then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I had never recorded an album that way before. Before I would record what I had, decide what the record needed and then wrote the kind of song to fit the record. This time, the new approach was a great exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer where I feel very comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. Then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolutely glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I always think: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff. I have experienced a lot of things and it’s all been worth it, even though it was very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home just outside of New York. It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20-year-old Joan and 30-year-old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20-year-old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince, definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?” Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

For a free-three track download from the new record, click here.

Joan As Police Woman – The Magic YouTube Preview Image

Illustration by Matilde Sazio

“This song is about fucking up against the wall, drug ” announced Joan Wasser to introduce “Hard white wall”, order a track from her second album To Survive at her Barbican gig on Sunday. Never the shrinking violet, viagra 60mg Joan stood centre-stage in an all-in-one fitted black leather number, slashed at the back, as the spotlights converged on her small frame. It was the seventh time I had seen Joan As Police Woman play in London.

The first time I saw Joan was on a balmy summer’s evening in 2006 at the now defunct Spitz in Spitalfields, which in my opinion, used to put on some of the best gigs in London. The venue was at capacity that night and the air inside was clammy to the point where every surface I touched, whether it was a table or wall, seemed to be coated with a film of sweat. Fresh from a tour supporting Guillemots, Joan took to the stage in a silver metallic floor length gown and wowed the audience with her electric solo set. No big stage productions, no fancy costume changes, not even a band; just Joan with her powerful, soulful vocals, Korg keyboard and guitar. I am certain that she gained some lifelong fans that night, of which I am one.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

The truth is that my enthusiasm for Joan extends beyond just liking her records and appreciating her live performances. There’s something about her music – perhaps classified in the same category as Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Cat Power and Regina Spektor – that deeply resonates with me. Her sound is raw, honest, pure and sung from the heart in a way which isn’t bland, overdone or contrived. The combination of her emotive vocals, attention to detail in the form of a subtle stroke of cymbal here and an echo of string instruments there, has had the power to reduce me to tears in the past (although I have been known to cry at most things!).

Over the years, Joan has seen me through the best and worst of times: she’s been the soundtrack to exciting train and coach journeys across South East Asia and South America as I have admired the ever-changing landscapes, accompanied me as I have trudged miserably into work on an overheated tube wedged up against some hairy obese man’s armpit, and comforted me through the pain of a relationship break-up where I often found myself lying kidney-bean shaped, feeling ridiculously self-pitiful. Yes, my one-sided relationship with Joan has roots man, she’s a sista.


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

A multi-instrumentalist who flits effortlessly between piano to guitar to violin, Joan has worked and performed with the likes of Antony and the Johnsons, Rufus Wainwright, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Elton John to name but a few. Much is made of the fact that she was the girlfriend of the luminous late-Jeff Buckley when he died, whose “Everybody Here Wants You” track is rumoured to be inspired by her, but for Joan to be defined by this alone is grossly unfair. The recognition that she deserves should be based purely on her own talent of epic proportions.

In the same vein as Antony and Rufus, much of Joan’s charm lies in her musical arrangements and unique vocals which can be spine-tingling, served tender or gruff. Her new album, The Deep Field unfurls her lust for life and presents to us a more positive and upbeat individual compared to her earlier offerings, Real Life (2006) and To Survive (2008). In her own words, it is her “most open, joyous record” to date.

Although the record is a departure from her more typical sombre sound, its essence is consistent with her previous material where she continues to demonstrate mood, depth, authenticity and sophisticated musical arrangements; a rare gem amongst some of the generic, non-memorable cack out there today.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

When I meet Joan for tea at the K-West Hotel in Shepherd’s Bush for our interview, she is friendly and sprightly, but appears visibly tired after having spent two days trekking across the UK to do promo work. I try to act cool and calm, but I am sweating like hell and on my way to the hotel, I slip over and land on my bottom to the amusement of two young teenage boys who break out into hysterics, which makes for a nice ice-breaker as I re-tell my story.

Wearing a brown leather jacket, a matching pair of trousers and a bright yellow t-shirt with “Strut ‘n’ Stuff” emblazoned across the front that she picked up from a thrift store, with her thick unkempt dark brown hair and flawless skin, Joan looks much younger than her years – much closer to 30 than 40.

As we sit on a comfy sofa in the so-called ‘library’ of the hotel, Joan is oblivious to the two men in suits sitting behind us having a business meeting, who shoot a few disapproving glances in our direction as her voice gets progressively louder during the course of the interview. Speaking animatedly with a cup of herbal tea (she is trying to cut back on the coffee) in one hand and some neatly cut slices of apple in the other, Joan talks to Amelia’s Magazine about life before Joan As Police Woman, the inspiration behind her new record, embracing life and who’s house she’d most like to be a fly on the wall at, all in the good company of some soft-porn inspired saxophone music, playing softly in the background…


Illustration by Darren Fletcher

You trained as a classical musician and spent some time performing as one. What was the catalyst for you to explore being an alternative musician?
I always listened to different kinds of music as I was growing up and throughout my classical training. Classical music and non-classical music is all music so for me it wasn’t all that big of a stretch making other music. I loved studying classical music, but I wasn’t really interested in making it my life’s work because I wanted to make new music. There were also plenty of people who were better equipped at bringing new insight to the Beethoven violin concerto and I was not one of them. I loved learning the discipline behind that, but pursuing a career in it didn’t interest me so when I moved to Boston to go to school I started playing in bands then because all my friends were in bands. The rest, I guess as they say, is history.

You’ve been in several bands since you started out as a musician, including playing violin 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?
Well I played violin exclusively for some time so I was mostly contributing to other peoples’ bands, which I loved doing. I was playing an instrument that is like a voice in itself. You don’t write songs on the violin so I had no way of writing. I picked up a guitar in 1997 to see what it was like; I wanted to figure out if I could write songs and started writing. I put a band together called Black Beetle and wrote a few songs with them and I joined Antony’s band. At this stage, I was still playing with lots of people doing string arrangements, but I also wanted to try out my voice which sounded horrible to me at the time. In the beginning you’re not used to what it sounds like and it doesn’t feel natural.

But surely you must have had reassurance from your friends that your voice is anything but horrible…
Well no one heard it. I started playing but I didn’t tell many people. I did get a lot of support from my friends which helped a lot, even if you think they’re lying because they love you.

So it was all very much about stepping slowly out of your comfort zone?
Yes, very much so. Antony had me open with one of his songs solo sometimes. It was a very nerve-wracking experience, especially as I was around a lot of astounding vocal performers. It was really scary, but I’m that kind of person where I like to jump into the deep end. It’s the only way to do things. I was making a record with Black Beetle that never got released, which was part of the learning process and then that band broke up in 2002 but I kept going; playing on my own and then I got a drummer to play with me and then Rufus asked me to go on tour and open for him and it just all went from there.


Illustration by Aysim Genc

The first time I saw you perform was at The Spitz in 2006, and even back then you seemed to be a very natural performer. Has performing always been second nature to you?
At that point I felt a lot better. Opening for Rufus was a good experience – you can’t really be opening for a crowd of total music lovers without getting your act together. Also, the fact that I come to a city that isn’t mine and tonnes of people show up. It makes you feel great; it makes you think: “OK – well at least I’m doing something right”.

When did you start recording the new album and what were your inspirations for the record?
I started by making a covers record which was fun for me to do. I wanted to get out of my head, my own songwriting. I think that really helped me to direct my songwriting on this record. I’m in a great place these days so I feel really open and joyful and I really wanted to get this across in the record. I first recorded seven songs that I had been writing since my last record, some of which I had been playing live. I did that in March and completed those songs and surveyed the scene and decided what the record needed. I then spent a few months writing five more songs to fill out the record the way I saw it in June and then mixed the whole thing at the end of last summer. It was really fun because I had never recorded an album that way before. Before I would record what I had, decide what the record needed and then wrote the kind of song to fit the record. This time, the new approach was a great exercise for me. I recorded at the same studio with the same producer where I feel very comfortable; it makes me feel like I’m coming home. Then I just got all of my favourite musicians to contribute to the record. It was just an absolutely glorious experience.

How do you think your sound has evolved since Real Life and To Survive?
It’s interesting because when I listen to my songs, I always think: “Where did that come from?” It’s beyond me. But I feel like I’m in a different place now…much more relaxed with myself in general. This is one of the treasures of spending more time alive because you get more comfortable with yourself and your surroundings.


Illustration by Matilde Sazio

You reached a milestone age last summer (Joan turned 40) – were there any anxieties?
I was really excited about it because I felt like it was a demarcation point of where I really didn’t have to give a shit about anything anymore. I never had to before, but I could just actually free myself of all the youth stuff. I have experienced a lot of things and it’s all been worth it, even though it was very difficult at times. I feel really lucky that everyday feels a bit better than the last because I’m determined to live a full life.

How did you celebrate?
I had a big party on my roof at home just outside of New York. It was really nice because I was there for the first time on my birthday and I really embraced it.

What advice would you give a 20-year-old Joan and 30-year-old Joan?
I would just reassure the 20-year-old Joan that things are definitely going to get better – I did not think that then. At 30…I don’t know…the thing is I wouldn’t ever do anything differently. You have to learn everything the way you learn them, unfortunately sometimes.

What do you do to switch off?
I definitely have to exercise or I go crazy. I need that in my life so I do that a lot. I spend a certain amount of time with my friends being ridiculous and making jokes as terrible as possible. Oh and drinking way too much coffee.

Who’s house would you most like to be a fly on the wall at?
Prince, definitely! He’s the only person who I think: “What is he doing right now?” Because you know it’s something weird…or fascinating. He’s just incredible; amazing.

Joan’s new album The Deep Field is out now on PIAS records and she is playing across the UK until 13 February.

For a free-three track download from the new record, click here.

Joan As Police Woman – The Magic YouTube Preview Image

Ghosts in love by Sarah Alfarhan

Before I get all grinch-y about it, sales I should say I actually quite like the idea of Valentine’s Day. At its best it’s a reminder to take a moment to appreciate the person you care about, order but in reality it’s just fraught with peril. If you’re single it’s impossible, cialis 40mg as even if you’re happy with your situation it somehow manages to bring out the side of you that protesteth too much. And if you’re coupled up… ah, the pressure. The Boy has been refusing to even acknowledge it. Maybe I should be offended by this, but in truth I’ve been happy I don’t have to deal with it.

But then I was invited to attend a Valentine’s workshop at The Create Place in Bethnal Green, and I started wondering if it was possible to re-programme this attitude. Because now that I think about it, I don’t think I’ve ever really celebrated Valentine’s. I tried once, as you sort of have to the first time you have a boyfriend for V-day, but it didn’t go so well; my parents chose the 13th of February to tell me they were getting divorced. I may have lost it a little among all the hearts and pink in Thorntons Chocolate that year (I still feel bad for my fellow shoppers). My poor boyfriend cooked me dinner and gave me a plant that grew to be taller than I am, but I never celebrated Valentine’s Day again.


Be Mine by Mina Bach

Back in the present day I’m finding myself at The Create Place, formerly known as Back to Basics. Inside is Sarah Butler of Violet Iris, who is here to teach the little group how to make Valentine’s cards. I’m provided with tea and a stack of red card to start with, before I’m nudged towards a table chuck full of ribbon, markers, glitter, buttons, stamps, threads, paints, stickers, patterned scissors and I don’t know what. I look around and wonder if the other people there can tell I’m a V-day sceptic, as they all seem so excited about it. One of the girls is telling us how she just loves hearts, and how she once made loads of cards and left them around town for people to find. The bar is set high. I tentatively peer into the basket of fabric, and find a reassuringly earth-toned floral in between the pinks. You have to start somewhere, don‘t you.


Instructing Cupid by Cat Palairet

Then the strangest thing happens – I start to get into it. As we glue and cut away, Create Place representative Jill tells us how the proceeds from the crafting workshops go to providing free classes for people from the local community. The non-profit venue is run by volunteers, and as much as possible of the materials are sourced second hand. Because it doesn’t take much – using a bit of glue, a fabric scrap and a heart-shaped (yes, I went there) button, I find that I’ve made my very own Valentine’s card. I also make two badges, personalised by basing them on my favourite deer and clover necklaces.


The Create Place workshop: My card and badges


Funny Valentine by Joana Faria

A few days later The Create Place put on its one-day-only Valentine’s pop-up shop, demonstrating yet again that homemade is best when it comes to gifts for V-day. Embroidered badges by Zeena Shah, vegan cakes by Sweet Thursdays, Just B’s handmade jewellery from recycled paper, and jokey Valentine’s cards and badges from Violet Iris. And then there’s ‘The Last Rolo’, a trinket neatly presented in a box by Lu Burnell, enough to melt even the staunchest sceptic.


The Create Place pop-up shop. From left: Mima handmade natural lipbalm, Zeena Shah embroidered badges, Sweet Thursdays vegan cakes, Just B recycled jewellery.


The Reluctant Valentiner by Avril Kelly

I’m starting to realise the trick is putting your own stamp on Valentine’s Day, and this may well mean taking things in a completely different direction than that directed by Thorntons Chocolate. The Residence gallery in Victoria Park Village is currently running its ‘Shame’ exhibition of collectable art lingerie; ‘Between the origin of sin and sexuality there rests a place for love,’ is the show’s tag line. Gallery director Ingrid Z shows me around: there are embroidered pants by James Daw (’Let he who is without sin cast the first Sharon Stone’), ‘surrealist stockings’ by Laura May Lewis, and zinged shirts by Ingrid herself, themed after the seven deadly sins. While most of the lingerie can be worn, Ingrid explains you may not want to do so as not all of it would take kindly to water. Like the pieces by Mark Scott-Wood – those stains you see on the shirt in the picture are made from … the stuff that makes those sorts of stains.


Shame exhibition at The Residence gallery. From left: Mark Scott-Wood, Alexander Heaton, Danielle Drainey


Heart signet ring by Digby & Iona

Following on from that, the anatomical heart signet ring from jewellery makers Digby & Iona seems quite lovely in comparison. I think it’s pretty neat actually. But in spite of all my Valentine’s attitude re-programming, I’m not on the look-out for any heart-themed gifts this year after all. As we were having breakfast the other morning, the Boy and I agreed to stick to our guns and skip Valentine’s Day. Maybe this sounds like a let-down, but the thing is – the fry-up I was scoffing was one he’d whipped up for us while I was still snoozing. So I’m really not complaining.


Heart-shaped eggs by Antonia Parker

The Create Place is at 29 Old Ford Road, London E2 9PJ – see the website for details of upcoming events and workshops. ‘Shame’ runs at The Residence gallery until 27th February; 229 Victoria Park Road, London E9 7HD.

Categories ,Alexander Heaton, ,Antonia Parker, ,Avril Kelly, ,Bethnal Green, ,Cat Palairet, ,Danielle Drainey, ,Digby & Iona, ,Ingrid Z, ,James Daw, ,Joana Faria, ,Just B, ,Laura May Lewis, ,london, ,Lu Burnell, ,Luburnell, ,Mark Scott-Wood, ,Mina Bach., ,Sarah Alfarhan, ,Sarah Butler, ,Sweet Thursdays, ,The Create Place, ,The Residence Gallery, ,Valentine’s Day, ,Victoria Park Village, ,Violet Iris, ,Zeena Shah

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Amelia’s Magazine | Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits: a perfect idea for Mothering Sunday

Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits
Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Okay, order so I know it’s Pancake Day, and International Women’s Day. But I want to talk about BISCUITS. And why not? Mothering Sunday is coming up this weekend and what better excuse to get baking. In fact, there are plenty of good reasons to make biscuits at any time of the year, as you will discover if you get your paws on the fabulous Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits. I promise you’ll be drooling before you’ve even opened the delicious front cover.

Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits

I discovered Biscuiteers a bit late for Valentines Day, but they kindly sent me a copy of their book, written by Harriet Hastings and Sarah Moore. Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits is the most divinely designed and photographed bible of biscuit goodness. And what I like is that it is very clearly a collaborative effort, with thanks to Victoria Sawdon – who not only art directed the book but illustrates all the Biscuiteers tins – mentioned alongside thanks to all the biscuit icers: Rina Wanti, Ceridwen Olofson and Belinda Chen. I want their skills!

Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits

Biscuiteers was started with the aim of making biscuits that look as beautiful as they taste. They are launched in seasonal collections to match specific events, and are aimed at adults in high end stores such as Harrods, Liberty and Fortnum & Mason. The Biscuiteers are proud to have built a business on old fashioned non-industrialised techniques and all the biscuits are still hand made and therefore individual. However, with the help of the Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits the common biscuit baker can give it a go ourselves.

Biscuiteers Book of Iced BiscuitsBiscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits

Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits is an extraordinarily beautiful book that features all the information you need to know to create the perfect dough and that all important icing, both royal and flooded. As well as easy to follow guides the book offers recommendations for how to package and post your biscuity creations. As you would expect it includes chapters on biscuits for a huge variety of occasions, from the biggies such as Christmas, Halloween, Mother’s Day (this weekend) and Easter, down to individual ideas such as New Baby biscuits – pastel bears and ducks – and garden themed biscuits. There are even some jokey cupcake biscuits, which says something about the enduring popularity of the cupcake, though I’d be happy to wager a bet on the biscuit take over.

Biscuiteers Book of Iced BiscuitsBiscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits

I made some dodgy Valentines Day biscuits using an online recipe, but with the help of this book I hope very soon to be somewhat more skilled, and I bet your mum would love nothing more than a batch of beautiful home made biscuits for Mothering Sunday – even if they don’t turn out quite as perfectly as the ones in Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits. Hey, it’s good to have something to aspire to!

Valentines biscuits
My feeble efforts…

You can buy the book on the Biscuiteers website. The book won Best Desserts Book UK and this month it goes into the international final for the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, held in Paris. Well done! And well deserved.

Categories ,Belinda Chen, ,Best Desserts Book UK, ,Biscuiteers, ,Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits, ,Ceridwen Olofson, ,Christmas, ,Easter, ,Flooded Icing, ,Fortnum & Mason, ,Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, ,Hallowe’en, ,Harriet Hastings, ,Harrods, ,International Women’s Day, ,liberty, ,Mother’s Day, ,Mothering Sunday, ,New Baby, ,Pancake Day, ,Rina Wanti, ,Royal Icing, ,Sarah Moore, ,Valentine’s Day, ,Victoria Sawdon

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Amelia’s Magazine | Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits: a perfect idea for Mothering Sunday

Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits
Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits. All photography by Amelia Gregory.

Okay, order so I know it’s Pancake Day, and International Women’s Day. But I want to talk about BISCUITS. And why not? Mothering Sunday is coming up this weekend and what better excuse to get baking. In fact, there are plenty of good reasons to make biscuits at any time of the year, as you will discover if you get your paws on the fabulous Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits. I promise you’ll be drooling before you’ve even opened the delicious front cover.

Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits

I discovered Biscuiteers a bit late for Valentines Day, but they kindly sent me a copy of their book, written by Harriet Hastings and Sarah Moore. Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits is the most divinely designed and photographed bible of biscuit goodness. And what I like is that it is very clearly a collaborative effort, with thanks to Victoria Sawdon – who not only art directed the book but illustrates all the Biscuiteers tins – mentioned alongside thanks to all the biscuit icers: Rina Wanti, Ceridwen Olofson and Belinda Chen. I want their skills!

Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits

Biscuiteers was started with the aim of making biscuits that look as beautiful as they taste. They are launched in seasonal collections to match specific events, and are aimed at adults in high end stores such as Harrods, Liberty and Fortnum & Mason. The Biscuiteers are proud to have built a business on old fashioned non-industrialised techniques and all the biscuits are still hand made and therefore individual. However, with the help of the Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits the common biscuit baker can give it a go ourselves.

Biscuiteers Book of Iced BiscuitsBiscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits

Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits is an extraordinarily beautiful book that features all the information you need to know to create the perfect dough and that all important icing, both royal and flooded. As well as easy to follow guides the book offers recommendations for how to package and post your biscuity creations. As you would expect it includes chapters on biscuits for a huge variety of occasions, from the biggies such as Christmas, Halloween, Mother’s Day (this weekend) and Easter, down to individual ideas such as New Baby biscuits – pastel bears and ducks – and garden themed biscuits. There are even some jokey cupcake biscuits, which says something about the enduring popularity of the cupcake, though I’d be happy to wager a bet on the biscuit take over.

Biscuiteers Book of Iced BiscuitsBiscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits

I made some dodgy Valentines Day biscuits using an online recipe, but with the help of this book I hope very soon to be somewhat more skilled, and I bet your mum would love nothing more than a batch of beautiful home made biscuits for Mothering Sunday – even if they don’t turn out quite as perfectly as the ones in Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits. Hey, it’s good to have something to aspire to!

Valentines biscuits
My feeble efforts…

You can buy the book on the Biscuiteers website. The book won Best Desserts Book UK and this month it goes into the international final for the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, held in Paris. Well done! And well deserved.

Categories ,Belinda Chen, ,Best Desserts Book UK, ,Biscuiteers, ,Biscuiteers Book of Iced Biscuits, ,Ceridwen Olofson, ,Christmas, ,Easter, ,Flooded Icing, ,Fortnum & Mason, ,Gourmand World Cookbook Awards, ,Hallowe’en, ,Harriet Hastings, ,Harrods, ,International Women’s Day, ,liberty, ,Mother’s Day, ,Mothering Sunday, ,New Baby, ,Pancake Day, ,Rina Wanti, ,Royal Icing, ,Sarah Moore, ,Valentine’s Day, ,Victoria Sawdon

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Amelia’s Magazine | Valentines Open Brief: Submissions Part 2

REALITY_BITES_Eugenia Tsmilkis
Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us! Here are the rest of the submissions for my Valentines Open Brief, see more here, and see the ones which were chosen by East End Prints to appear in their True Romance exhibition here. I hope you’ll all be feeling the lurve this weekend.

Eugenia Tsimiklis (above)
Reality Bites: This film has significance for me as a romantic comedy because it encapsulated awkward post-university faltering relationships. It’s a movie about connecting with people, being emotionally vulnerable and a search for identity, and opportunity during economic recession. Reality Bites is the archetypal slacker romantic comedy and is concerned with not being a “sell out” and choosing integrity over financial gains and choosing the slacker penniless hot musician Ethan Hawke over the earnest suited TV executive, Ben Stiller. Stylistically, I love Reality Bites, because Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder are the ultimate nineties pin ups, wearing grunge thrift store clothes and hanging out in dirty bars, driving beat up old cars, working in jobs they hate and smoking cigarettes and feeling misunderstood.
I drew this based on the movie poster but I wanted it to have more of a comic feel. I drew it in pencil and added Indian ink, and a splash of red. I like the starkness of a limited palette and black and white poster art.

Valentines Art_Alison Day
Alison Day Designs
The inspiration for my Valentines Art illustration came to me one evening by chance. I have worked for many years as editor and designer of an expatriate magazine in the Netherlands. In 2013, I decided that it was time to take the plunge and put all my energies into my business: Alison Day Designs. I am inspired by imagery and the world around me, and I enjoy working in my garden studio on personal design and illustration projects.

Florence Zealey
Florence Zealey
My piece is inspired by the french film, Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain – probably one of my all time favourites. The line “Even artichokes have hearts” immediately sprung to my mind when first approaching the design, appearing within the scene where Amelie confronts the bully of a greengrocer. Although not seemingly the most romantic line, or scene, within the film, I thought that it perfectly captured the charm and romance of the story without being too obvious. The film is simplistic, lighthearted and doesn’t take itself too seriously, so I have tried to keep that theme within my own work. I originally drew out the artichoke and the title by hand and then decided to progress with the design digitally. I have always admired simplistic and graphic posters, such as the work by Saul Bass, and have recently tried to bring this approach back to my own work. There is something incredibly difficult about keeping a design so simple and making it still look good whilst still having a clear meaning. 

helendodsworth
Helen Dodsworth
I’ve never been keen on romantic/soppy declarations and find it all a bit naff to be honest. My friend was eating some love hearts and I noticed that one of them had MINE stamped on it. This struck me as a little too possessive and controlling for my liking, and left me with an image of a little cartoon love heart being told off for being a little too keen. I sketched out a few rough drawings until I had it looking the way I wanted it, then scanned my favourite sketch into Photoshop, blew it up to the right size (as I naturally sketch quite small), then polished it up and added colour in Photoshop, using a photo of love hearts I found online for colour reference.

HollyFarmer-Valentinesart
Holly Farmer
This illustration is a mixed media piece that was originally inspired by the Russian artist duo – The Popovy Sisters and their beautiful artist dolls. I wanted to portray a sense of fragility and melancholy through the form of a slim, breakable doll. Although she has a dolls body, I feel I captured something hauntingly human about her expression and mood. I painted the girl using watercolours in an impasto method by mixing white acrylic paint to the colours. I also hand painted each individual moth in watercolour. Originally during my planning of this work I painted two girls facing each other in a romantic or sisterly way. I wanted to express the way love is universal and mostly, indiscriminate. I erased the second girl and instead drew two red flowers in a vase to simply suggest a romantic aura. I feel I captured the theme of love in a subtle way.

joanna long
Joanna Long
Love is all around, sometimes you just have to look a little bit harder to see it!

laura barrett
Laura Barrett
The design I’ve created is inspired by traditional folk art and takes inspiration from nature. I’ve always been drawn to folk and fairy tales, which is something that runs through most of my work and the illustrations I choose to create. This design is based on floral folk art, in particular ‘Scherenschnitte’, the German art of creating intricate cut paper designs. These need to be designed in a way that every piece is connected so that the whole design is held together- I like this idea of everything being connected, which seems appropriate for such a romantic theme. 

myfanwy tristram
Myfanwy Tristram
Although I work a lot with inks, and prize them for their vibrancy, this piece is super-saturated in colour even by my standards. When I thought of love, I wanted to show it bursting out all over, with flowers springing up spontaneously, trumpets playing triumphant fanfares, and everything – seed heads, rainbows, hearts and flowers – just exploding with the sheer exhilaration of it all.
In retrospect, I suspect the colour theme is influenced by a childhood exposure to Sesame Street and Seventies cartoons, where pink, purple and orange could, and did, co-exist in harmony. For those who didn’t grow up in that decade, I apologise, and hope that your retinas recover soon.
I sketched this piece out in pencil initially, which allowed for some crazy sweeping lines, then coloured it, via a lightbox, onto a new page. It’s barely touched up in Photoshop, hence the uneveness in some of the colouration – hopefully all adding to the general feeling of being swept up in the moment of irrepressible, undeniable, exuberant love.

Rich banks queen of hearts
Rich Banks
Queen of Hearts was created using Staedtdler Fine Liners and Uni Posca marker pens. It is the next in a series of illustrations I am producing on playing cards. 

Sarah Stendel
Sarah Stendel
My inspiration was one of the most romantic movies of all that I know: An Affair to Remember starring lovely Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant as Terry and Nickie, who gently fall in love with each other during their trip on a ferry. Although both are actually involved with someone else, after their journeythey decide  to leave each others’ partners and meet in 6 months time on top of the Empire State Building in New York. After watching the movie again and making some sketches and notes during the film, I started painting a remake of the movieposter. I went for an old poster format, like some french theatres (particularly Folies-Bergère) or events used to have around the 20s/30s. And some british illustrative posters of the 50 inspired me as well.

ScottWMason-VALENTINES-ART
Scott Mason
Illustrated film posters from past romance movies inspired this illustration, with those a single image had to depict a story and intrigue viewers to come and watch the film, so I wanted to include just enough to entice the viewers imagination and curiosity and let their mind run wild with creating a story, situation and relationship for these two. This image started off with a couple of quick layout sketches to try and plan out the colours, but that all went out the window when I started the actual drawing and just coloured it in what I felt looked decent and worked. I wanted the image to have an almost screen printed retro feel to it with the flat bold colours, clashing just enough to get your attention but hopefully not so much you need to pop on a pair of sunglasses mid winter.  

Vicky Bentham-Green
Vicky Bentham-Green
My two greatest passions in Art are line and colour; I grew up on Dartmoor surrounded by a dramatic landscape and hardy livestock and would go out with a sketchbook to draw – I liked the challenge of capturing the ‘essence’ of the animals and the scenery. At secondary school my art teacher recommended I attend life-drawing classes. I enjoyed being able to draw the full human form but found I missed portraying movement. I love location drawing, sketching people going about their business and creating ‘characters’ in just a few lines.
I chose the tale of the Frog Prince as my female figures tend to have a whimsical air and my animals a personality of their own; so when brought together I felt they represented well the ridiculous and yet wonderful sentiment of the tale.
I start my illustrations by drawing subjects from reference or moving image, sometimes I will capture a subject in one drawing, another time it will take dozens of attempts, but I will know when an image is the right one; it feels like a type of magic! I then work over the drawings, and create textured backgrounds, using watercolour or watercolour pencil.

Will Broomfield
Will Broomfield
The valentines theme took me straight towards a heart so I started with a basic outline, white on black. I wanted to make this piece unique with randomness, simply because you never know who you might fall in love with, it’s random. Having added colour to the individual heart, I thought it looked bare by itself, therefore I used the same illustration without colour with different opacity which created a heart series which I think has worked well.

Categories ,2015, ,Alison Day Designs, ,An Affair to Remember, ,art, ,East End Prints, ,Eugenia Tsimiklis, ,Florence Zealey, ,Helen Dodsworth, ,Holly Farmer, ,illustration, ,Joanna Long, ,Laura Barrett, ,Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain, ,Love, ,Myfanwy Tristram, ,Open brief, ,Queen of Hearts, ,Reality Bites, ,Rich Banks, ,Romance, ,Sarah Stendel, ,Scott Mason, ,True Romance, ,Valentine’s Day, ,Valentines Open Brief, ,Vicky Bentham-Green, ,Will Broomfield

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Amelia’s Magazine | Valentine’s Day 2012: Gift Ideas

Rebecca-Hendin Valentines bear
Art by Rebecca Hendin.

Yup, it’s that time of year, Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us again… and I’ve been inundated with press releases for any number of loosely affiliated products for weeks on end. Here, then, is my round up of some gift ideas… although I’d like to add that my favourite gifts are usually home made. Call me odd, but I like the thought that someone has put time into creating something – shopping does of course take time as well, but you could always put those hands to use instead of those legs. And if there’s time for neither there’s always the mouse to hand…. As to what to do on the big night: why not read my round up of Valentine’s related events (including classes where you can make your loved a little special something).

Rebecca-Hendin Valentines
Rebecca-Hendin Valentines shakespeare
Firstly, gorgeous prints from Rebecca Hendin, available from her website. A steal! And perfect for evermore.

madi illustration valentines
Amelia’s Magazine contributor Madi has produce this lovely card for all you lovers, available on Etsy.

carne-griffiths-severred-2011-ink-and-tea-on-bockingford-watercolour-paper-75x56cm
For the art lovers amongst you: Debut Contemporary recommend a selection of work from their stable of artists. I adore this beautiful rose painting by Amelia’s Mag contributor Carne Griffiths.

Meet in the Park at night Front Row Society
Front Row Society is a new ethical platform. I like their Meet in the Park at Night printed scarf by Philippines based designer Jennifer Dayrit.

Cleo Ferrin Mercury
Cleo Ferrin Mercury has designed some lovely hibernating animal printed silk neckerchiefs for the boys.

pip n stuff scrabblecufflinks
Also for the man in your life, I like these very simple upcycled scrabble cufflinks by Pipnstuff.

Rob Ryan Valentines soma gallery
I particularly love this year’s annual offering from the original romantic Rob Ryan: there’s something gloriously old fashioned about it which is especially charming. Yours for just £120 from Soma Gallery and it hasn’t sold out yet.

secret envelope you too can look like this
*you too can look like this*

I’ve never been given knickers and personally I’m fine with buying my own, but if your lady likes a bit more luxury in the nether region why not subscribe to Secret Envelope? A monthly subscription for these designer knickers could be just the ticket, available at a very reasonable price.

maggie semple Gift card
How about this for another bespoke idea? Maggie Semple promises to trace the history of a favourite garment, and present the outcome in a beautifully presented book. I like the way that this values treasured clothing: the antithesis of throwaway culture. And all it requires right now is a gift card addressed to your loved one.

hannah martin valentines
On the jewellery front, how about this gorgeous abstract signet ring by Hannah Martin, whose new work is on display at Darkroom – a great destination for unusual gifts.

Maiden rude cakes
Finally I’m not sure what I think about these ‘profane cakes’ from Maiden, but they might appeal to the particularly cynical amongst you. They will be on sale between Friday 10th until Tuesday 14th February at the Maiden shop on Shoreditch High Street. All cakes are made locally in Hackney by Cakey Muto

Find my recommended Valentine’s Day related events here.

Categories ,Cakey Muto, ,Carne Griffiths, ,Cleo Ferrin Mercury, ,Darkroom, ,Debut Contemporary, ,ethical, ,Front Row Society, ,gifts, ,Hannah Martin, ,Jennifer Dayrit, ,jewellery, ,Madi Illustration, ,Maggie Semple, ,Maiden, ,Pipnstuff, ,prints, ,Rebecca Hendin, ,Secret Envelope, ,shoreditch, ,Shoreditch High Street, ,Soma Gallery, ,Valentine’s Day

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Amelia’s Magazine | Valentine’s Day 2012: Gift Ideas

Rebecca-Hendin Valentines bear
Art by Rebecca Hendin.

Yup, it’s that time of year, Valentine’s Day is nearly upon us again… and I’ve been inundated with press releases for any number of loosely affiliated products for weeks on end. Here, then, is my round up of some gift ideas… although I’d like to add that my favourite gifts are usually home made. Call me odd, but I like the thought that someone has put time into creating something – shopping does of course take time as well, but you could always put those hands to use instead of those legs. And if there’s time for neither there’s always the mouse to hand…. As to what to do on the big night: why not read my round up of Valentine’s related events (including classes where you can make your loved a little special something).

Rebecca-Hendin Valentines
Rebecca-Hendin Valentines shakespeare
Firstly, gorgeous prints from Rebecca Hendin, available from her website. A steal! And perfect for evermore.

madi illustration valentines
Amelia’s Magazine contributor Madi has produce this lovely card for all you lovers, available on Etsy.

carne-griffiths-severred-2011-ink-and-tea-on-bockingford-watercolour-paper-75x56cm
For the art lovers amongst you: Debut Contemporary recommend a selection of work from their stable of artists. I adore this beautiful rose painting by Amelia’s Mag contributor Carne Griffiths.

Meet in the Park at night Front Row Society
Front Row Society is a new ethical platform. I like their Meet in the Park at Night printed scarf by Philippines based designer Jennifer Dayrit.

Cleo Ferrin Mercury
Cleo Ferrin Mercury has designed some lovely hibernating animal printed silk neckerchiefs for the boys.

pip n stuff scrabblecufflinks
Also for the man in your life, I like these very simple upcycled scrabble cufflinks by Pipnstuff.

Rob Ryan Valentines soma gallery
I particularly love this year’s annual offering from the original romantic Rob Ryan: there’s something gloriously old fashioned about it which is especially charming. Yours for just £120 from Soma Gallery and it hasn’t sold out yet.

secret envelope you too can look like this
*you too can look like this*

I’ve never been given knickers and personally I’m fine with buying my own, but if your lady likes a bit more luxury in the nether region why not subscribe to Secret Envelope? A monthly subscription for these designer knickers could be just the ticket, available at a very reasonable price.

maggie semple Gift card
How about this for another bespoke idea? Maggie Semple promises to trace the history of a favourite garment, and present the outcome in a beautifully presented book. I like the way that this values treasured clothing: the antithesis of throwaway culture. And all it requires right now is a gift card addressed to your loved one.

hannah martin valentines
On the jewellery front, how about this gorgeous abstract signet ring by Hannah Martin, whose new work is on display at Darkroom – a great destination for unusual gifts.

Maiden rude cakes
Finally I’m not sure what I think about these ‘profane cakes’ from Maiden, but they might appeal to the particularly cynical amongst you. They will be on sale between Friday 10th until Tuesday 14th February at the Maiden shop on Shoreditch High Street. All cakes are made locally in Hackney by Cakey Muto

Find my recommended Valentine’s Day related events here.

Categories ,Cakey Muto, ,Carne Griffiths, ,Cleo Ferrin Mercury, ,Darkroom, ,Debut Contemporary, ,ethical, ,Front Row Society, ,gifts, ,Hannah Martin, ,Jennifer Dayrit, ,jewellery, ,Madi Illustration, ,Maggie Semple, ,Maiden, ,Pipnstuff, ,prints, ,Rebecca Hendin, ,Secret Envelope, ,shoreditch, ,Shoreditch High Street, ,Soma Gallery, ,Valentine’s Day

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