She may have worked with Mick Jagger, Ringo Starr and Jeff Beck, but Joss Stone will be on the hunt for new Australian talent when she tours here next month.
“I'm trying to find people to collaborate with when I'm there,” she says. “I'd like to investigate music that was born in Australia. It's nice to be exposed to other things; things that aren't influenced by America or the UK. Maybe I'll have a little sneak around Byron Bay and see what's about.
“I really enjoyed Byron last time; it was more earthy, which I liked. We were only in Australia for a week, but that was my favourite spot. I'm definitely excited to be going back there; hopefully we'll get more time.”
The 26-year-old English soul singer and her ten-piece band will be part of a mammoth Bluesfest line-up, as well as doing a run of shows with multiple Grammy Award-winner India.Arie. “Expect a very good band playing what is hopefully very good music,” she says. “I love my musicians; I hold them in very high esteem. I've been working with them for a very long time and I just love playing with them. We have a really nice time on-stage; we just 'soul out' a bit and try to play a bit of music from each album.
“So far I have six [albums], and we like to play the songs people know as well as a few new ones. The double bill [with Arie] was just one of those things. Obviously, the second they asked me I was like 'yes please'; I love her. When I was about 14 or 15 the song 'Video' came out and I got her album, and I would play the songs with the tape or CD in reverse, so I could try to learn the way she sang and her little ad-libs. I could never do it; I'm terrible with ad-libs as I'm not really that type of singer, but I would listen to her over and over. I think some days she'll start the set and I'll finish it and vice versa, and hopefully if we feel the vibe we'll sing together, if I'm lucky. I know her songs, but I don't know if she knows mine!”
Stone's last release, 2012's ‘The Soul Sessions Vol. 2’, was a collection of 11 soul covers, but her upcoming – as yet untitled – record promises to be more eclectic. “It's a little bit different this time,” she says. “A little bit more hip hop and reggae. There are a couple of tracks on there which are just classic soul, but it's so hard to talk about right now as we haven't even finished the percussion yet, so I don't know what it's going to turn out like.
“In all honesty, I could turn ‘round and go 'Oh I fucking hate this, let's just cut it again'. I'm trying to keep that safety, you know what I mean? New influences come in naturally when I'm beginning writing, then I latch on to whatever that newness is and make that choice to continue in this path; it's a conscious decision from that point. I've got 30 songs, but I'm going to see. I've just done two weeks in the studio, and I'll have to listen back and see which ones I like.
“Normally an album doesn't go longer than 14 to 17 tracks. I never really like to play a full show where I just play new songs to a group of people who haven't got the album. Putting in new songs can be cool, but until everybody gets the album, it can be a bit of a bummer to go to a show when you don't know any of the songs. When the record is out I'll play them all, but when the Australian tour comes around I'll just play a couple. I'll rehearse my band; by now they know all the songs, but we'll rehearse and learn a couple of the new ones, so when we get to the stage I can kind of call it, you know? I know what's going to happen in general, but I don't know what the audience is going to be like until I meet them. In fact, they are the eleventh member of my band. That's the fun of it.”
Stone was a part of short-lived supergroup SuperHeavy in 2011 with Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, A.R. Rahman and Damian Marley, and has performed with big-hitters like James Brown, Rod Stewart and Melissa Etheridge, but one musician inspired her more than the rest. “Jeff Beck; I'm in awe of him and the way he plays,” she says. “When he's talking to you he's just a normal guy, but when he plays it's entirely different; it's like 'wow'. If we're playing on the same day [at Bluesfest] we might even do a little song together. He's amazing.”
Joss Stone Tour Dates
Joss Stone plays Bluesfest, which takes place at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, Byron, April 17-21.
Joss also has sideshows with India.Arie: April 17 - The Palais | Melb
April 20 - The Tivoli | Bris
April 24 - The Enmore | Syd