It's rare that a cover version really blows us away - unless they manage to bring something new and surpass the original, there's often little to commend the reimagining of another song. However, very occasionally, someone comes along and manages to impress us so much that there's no option but to stop and listen.
Josie Charlwood has managed the near impossible - she's created a stunning loopstation cover of Gorillaz 'Feel Good Inc.' Not only does the track sound fantastic, it also reveals the 18-year old to be a supreme talent. Very few people could pull off something as complex as you see in the video above and for it to sound better than the original is unthinkable, but she does it.
We caught up with Josie as she prepares for the release of her independently released debut album, Pieces Of Me, a collection of live recordings...
Who is Josie Charlwood?
I'm a self-taught singer/songwriter, pianist and looper from the UK. I've been playing/singing for seven years now, although only got into loopstation work within the last year and a half. I grew up in a small town near Brighton and have just finished my A Levels, gaining qualifications in music, maths and geography.
Your first album hits iTunes shortly, what have been your biggest challenges reaching this point?
My first album, Pieces Of Me is a completely live album. There is no use of overdubs and every song has an accompanying live video of that very performance (these can be found on my Youtube Channel). I suppose the challenge here has been making each performance successful and accurate enough to just be able to use one take! This especially applies to the loop tracks as they are extremely hard to put together accurately and take a lot of practice. Also, not being in a band puts all the pressure of recording (and I suppose the creation of the arrangements themselves) onto me only. I've actually really enjoyed doing things myself, but having input from other musicians would have been great too.
Your cover of Gorillaz' 'Feel Good Inc.' has been really well received, how did you go about recreating such a technically complex track?
I had no idea it would be so well received and I'm so grateful that people are enjoying it so much! I didn't really plan it as such and to be honest I had no idea how much it would involve – I just started out to make a simple looped version of the track, but ended up with a lot more than I'd expected. By the time I had created the sound-set (all the different parts that make up the texture of the loops) it had become a lot more technically advanced than I first imagined, featuring my guitar, piano, computer and 3 different pedals. I just used everything I could to make the sound as rich and textured as possible.
How would you describe your sound?
I like to think my sound changes and evolves as I learn more, although I suppose it is already varied over different instruments. I find it really hard to describe my own writing, but I like to think it's contemporary yet relaxed, and that there are (hopefully) strong messages put across in my lyrics.
If you could rewind two years, would you have done anything different?
Well I've been studying for my A Levels the last two years so obviously I had to commit to that. I studied double music as part of those but lacked the contacts to start up a really tight band, which is something I would have loved to do to help me through all the work and exams.
Who are your inspirations and influences?
I have many inspirations in terms of songwriting and I think I'm continually influenced by all the music I hear even now. I was enticed into the loopstation niche by artists such as KT Tunstall and Ed Sheeran, both of whose music I really enjoy and wanted to take something from. In terms of genres, I enjoy many, ranging from funk, jazz and soul to modern pop and dance... there are too many artists for me to individually name!
If you could pick one artist, living or passed, to work with, who would it be?
This has to be the hardest interview question ever! I would probably have to choose my current favourite band Everything Everything. Their songwriting is astounding and I've never heard anything quite like it – they've got a very unique sound and their songs are all so intricate. I'd love to be involved in a flow of ideas as detailed as that one!
You are going to live on a desert island for a year, which three albums do you take with you?
Everything Everything - Man Alive.
Bloc Party - Silent Alarm
Various Artists - Disco Mix '96 (a great compilation album in my opinion)
Post-album, what are your plans?
At the end of this month, I am starting a three year honours degree in Music, at a college in London. Following that I aspire to have a career somewhere in the music industry, whether it be performing, writing, marketing or even business. I suppose for now I am undecided and yet to find a type of music career which I really want to pursue.
To buy the singer's music - both original tracks and the stunning 'Feel Good Inc' cover, check out Josie Charlwood's Bandcamp page or check her out on iTunes.