In the July issue of DIVA (the one with Sadie from Lip Service
on the cover) we ask three-time Grammy nominee Joan Armatrading a
few questions about her new album Starlight, her career to date and
her private life.
If you are not familiar with Joan's music, you are genuinely in
for a treat. I have been a fan since I was a child and am regularly
astounded by the quality of her songwriting and the brilliance of
her voice. Genuinely, she is amazing. If you take any advice from
someone writing on a website this year, let it be this advice:
listen to some of Joan's music (start with the track below, Drop
The Pilot, then YouTube) and if you like it (and even if you don't)
read my interview with her in the July issue.
You can pick up the July issue
Now with no further ado, here are a few questions we put to Ms
Armatrading which we didn't have space for in the magazine....
DIVA: Does your back catalogue intimidate you,
when you sit down to write? Do you ever think 'How am I going to
JOAN ARMATRADING: Yeah. I don't think I can top
that. I don't think I want to top that. I just want to write
something good all the time, so that's all I'm really thinking
about. I can't afford to go back and play the stuff that I've
written before I start writing something else. I wouldn't do
something like that. Because I want to be now, I want to be in the
moment. I wouldn't be able to write Starlight if I sat down and
listened to Love and Affection and then immediately tried to write
Starlight. I just don't think it would work.
DIVA: Do you think as a songwriter you've
always been interested in similar themes?
JOAN ARMATRADING: I definitely have reoccurring
themes. The thing I write about the most is our relationships with
each other. But that's what we're about. That's what the planet is
about. We talk about this beautiful planet and the wonderful trees
and the weather and the beautiful architecture and the birds and
nature and all that stuff but what we're all about is people.
That's the whole thing. People and how we relate to each other. How
we communicate. How we like, love, don't like, don't love
You know, it's all about that and that's why I tend to write
about people the most and why I think if you look at a lot of
songwriters, they write about love the most. I was watching a
programme recently about a group, quite a heavy group and when I
listened to their songs it was all about love. There was all this
heavy metal hardcore guitars kerang kerang kerang, you know, and it
was all about "Oh I miss you baby" [laughs[ and you know, that's
it. That's what it's about.
DIVA: Do you remember when you first realised
or believed that you could make music your career?
JOAN ARMATRADING: I think I… when I had my
first record [1972's Whatever's for Us], I was really seriously
lucky that I worked with a chap called Gus Dudgeon, a big deal
producer at the time. He produced all of Elton's great, great
records, and David Bowie and loads of people. And I was
really lucky when I met him, because he realised, he could see that
I knew exactly what I wanted. I've always written and arranged my
own songs, and because he was this big time producer he didn't say
to me 'Oh this is your first time in the studio Joan, I know what
it's all about and you'll just do what I'm telling you.' He just
listened to everything that I had to say and always went the way
that I wanted him to go and had a good relationship with the
musicians and again because it was the first time I was making a
record and having to communicate with musicians, some of the
communication came via him, but loads of it came via me to them.
But just him making sure that that happened. He was a brilliant
guy. Great at sounds, great at a brilliant atmosphere in the
studio, just everything about him was perfect, we remained friends
from that first record until his death a few years ago. So that was
really, really lucky. When I made my second album, if I'd made my
first album with that person, I think I would never have made
another album. Because I'd had this great experience before, I
knew. Because when I'd made my second album, I thought I don't
think I wanna do this. [laughs] This is just not right.
DIVA: That's incredible.
JOAN ARMATRADING: Oh, it wasn't a happy
experience. In fact, when I hear that album - I probably shouldn't
say this, because people will know and I don't want to spoil it for
them, but I can hear me being quite frustrated on that album.
DIVA: I'll have to listen, see if I can pick it
JOAN ARMATRADING: [laughs] You might not, but I
do. I can hear my frustration on that. At that point I thought, I
don't think I want to do this. But because I was born to write,
that's why I'm here. The contest... well, there was no contest
really. It was just a matter of making sure I was never in that
situation again. And then everything would be fine, and that's how
it worked out. But yeah, that's the only time I've ever thought 'Is
this something I want to do?'
Read our full interview with Joan in the July issue of
Visit Joan's website for details of her upcoming tour: joanarmatrading.com