In Conversation with… Joan As Police Woman

Published on 17th August 2022

American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Joan Wasser (better known as Joan As Police Woman) is performing at Brewery Arts this Friday, 19 August. 

We spoke with Joan about her touring band, working with Damon Albarn, and her latest album with Dave Okumu and the late Tony Allen.

After a string of solo shows, Joan is returning with her band from New York who she describes enthusiastically. Parker Kindred will play drums with added vocals. “He has been on my recordings and playing with me for over 15 years and is pretty integral to the sound of the band”, said Joan. Eric Lane “who is a master” will play keys and saxophone, while “the newest member of the band” Kyle Miles will play bass. 

The band return to tour as Joan As Police Woman in support of the latest record, The Solution Is Restless, a collaborative album with musician and producer, Dave Okumu, and the late Nigerian drummer and composer, Tony Allen. 

“This album has a very specific feel because of Tony Allen’s signature sound”, said Joan. The Solution is Restless was released in November last year under the PIAS/Sweet Police label. “I feel really happy and proud of the arrangements we have created to make this music come alive”, said Joan.

The recording of the album took place in 2019 with a jam session between the three artists in Paris where Tony was living. “I then just threw myself into creating music from this relatively small amount of source material”, said Joan.

Joan has done considerable collaborations throughout her career, providing strings and vocals for a number of artists including Elton JohnLou Reed, and, Sheryl Crow. As Joan As Police Woman she recently worked with Damon Albarn for the 2020 Gorillaz album Song Machine, Season One: Strange Timez, on the track ‘Simplicity’.

“Damon and I met in Ethiopia through Africa Express”, said Joan. Africa Express is an organisation that facilitates cross-cultural collaborations between musicians in African, Middle Eastern, and Western countries to present a positive impression of Africa to counter against common media images of war, famine, and disease.

“[Damon and I] have a similar way of writing songs and making things happen which is really casual and always something good happens from it”, said Joan. 

Despite being signed to a record label, Joan considers herself an independent artist. “We are all doing this for the love of it”, said Joan. This is something which translates to her touring as well, as she is clearly passionate about independent venues like Brewery Arts. 

“They are everything”, said Joan. “If we all contribute to helping each together, we stay alive”. 

Joan’s performance in Kendal will be the start of a two-week tour which will include a Sunday slot at All Points East in London on 28 August with Nick Cave headlining. “Then I am writing a new record.”, said Joan. “I have no idea what I am going to do or write about which is scary but that is also what makes it fun!”

Joan As Police Woman plays the Theatre at Brewery Arts, Kendal on 19 August. Doors at 8pm. You can book tickets here. 

See all music events at Brewery Arts here

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