Joana and the Wolf Interview: Disorder Magazine

Photo: Paola Usala

Joana and the Wolf has been hibernating in the woods for a while but is back with a howling new single which includes the songs Hide Me and Vagabond, out 3rd May, Jameela Oberman caught up with frontwoman Joana Glaza to talk about demons, muses and crows…

You’ve not released any music for a long time, why has it taken so long and what have you been doing?

We had no money to release anything, so we kept writing and playing gigs. And then we also went into the woods and buried some golden coins in the ground hoping it will grow into the trees with money instead of leaves, what a shame it didn’t.

Tell me the inspiration for your new single.

The lyrics of Hide Me are inspired by fighting demons of doubt, which I think visit everyone sometimes. Musically we’ve made the sound very danceable and simple; almost a trance to keep the forest pulsing in the listener’s veins, like the wolf that travels to the city with loads of flashing lights and everyone moves and dances there.

Listen on SoundCloud:[fulltext]=Joana+and+the+Wolf

The second tune, Vagabond Song is about inner restlessness, a desire to go we don’t know where, to get to we don’t know what- which is a very human feeling but at the same time can hurt those closest to us. So this song is as if saying don’t worry, I’ll be back. I like the ethereal guitars Ali has created, it matches the unearthly longing inside people, Katy’s melancholy bass and the rolling drums played by Louis remind me of the constant moving of a vagabond’s heart.

Photo: Paola Usala

Who or what has recently been influential to your music-writing?

Rashel and Louis; Rashel came to live with me last November, she was so old already, for the first few days I couldn’t be with her for longer than five minutes, we started fighting, she’s got an individual voice and a strong character, I was worried and thought, ‘What am I going to do with this huge creature in my tiny bedroom?’ I’ve learnt to slowly appreciate her, now she’s my muse, my piano. And Louis, he’s my drummer…this time I mean a real person. I’ve noticed he’s really good at all sorts of dance beats, so I started re-making folkie mellow songs into dance killers.

Your influences have been quoted as being Eastern European folk and classical music, give a couple of your favourite examples of these.

I was born in Vilnius, which is such a cultural crossroad, so I heard and sang archaic Lithuanian, Russian and Polish folk tunes as a child. Henryk Gorecki is my god, his symphony N.3 is my encyclopaedia, and I also like Handel’s music, Ukrainian folk band Drevo and Bulgarian folk singers Le Mystere Des Voix Bulgares.

What artists have you been listening to this year?

Bob Dylan, he is my new revelation, it took me several years of training not to turn him off after first two songs. I listened to him with the huge book of his lyrics on my lap, which Ali, my guitarist has kindly lent to me, I made it a bit greasy already but Shh! Usually I end up listening to the artists whom at first listen I dislike, but for some reason if I give them few more goes I suddenly get addicted. I was so irritated by Patti Smith when I first heard her and then she became a goddess on a horse. When I heard Fleet Foxes I thought oh what these Grandpas up to, then they became my Evangelia of truth.

Photo: Tom Foster

Is it different being a female lead singer of a band compared to your male counterparts and if so, how?

Not really, I always felt I have a boy’s heart even though I wear dresses. Besides there are two girls in the band and Katie would disapprove if I acted like a pussy. I’m the one who usually starts fights or spends time like a lonesome vagabond. I hate it when promoters make us play those female fronted nights, it feels so wrong being judged and classified by the appearance of a girl, sometimes I even wonder if they ever bother listening to our music or just think –female, oh my god two females, ok perfect, that’s what we need for next Wednesday, let’s book them, you know… I only discovered recently that Bob Dylan has a heart of a girl.

You’re said to be a fan of PJ Harvey, what do you make of her new record with its take on the human side of political subject matter, would you ever follow suit?

Am I? I was. I liked her earlier stuff, didn’t hear her last album, only a couple of tunes on YouTube, she looked beautiful though, a sombre black crow ripping off her voice, it gave me throat ache just listening to her. But I still keep in my purse a shred of paper, a review of her new album in some magazine where they said it was like…‘melodic and Kate Bush crackers…’When I saw that someone has compared PJ Harvey to Kate Bush I thought that was the end of the world.

What are your future plans?

We’ll finish recording our first album and release it beginning of 2012. Then keep writing strange albums and have as many gigs as possible because this is when the wolf becomes truly alive.


• Hide Me can be downloaded from iTunes on May 3rd 2011



• Joana and the Wolf will be playing: – Favela Chic, London 11/05/11 – Pulse Festival, Rich Mix London 28/05/11 – Secret Garden Party, 22/07/11.

Words: Jameela Oberman .
Portraits: Paola Usala
Band Shot: Tom Foster


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