TMF meets Joana And The Wolf
Joana And The Wolf are a four piece, based in London, fronted by Lithuanian singer-songwriter Joana Glaza. Joana grew up in what used to be called Eastern Europe, listening to opera and to Russian folk, and it shows. She found rock music, and the rest of the band, when she moved to London. They've been together since 2005, playing anything from festivals stages to Parisian clubs. Along the way they've become something of a critic's favourite, a cult classic. She will tell you that she met a wolf in a forest one night, and that it jumped down her throat, and lives inside her still. That'll explain the occasional howling and a feral penchant for climbing things at gigs. Their live set isn't all about Joana's vocal delivery though, the rest of the band are hugely accomplished, as evidenced by way they anchor her on new single 'Hide Me'. Catch them live and you'll see that they operate very much as a unit.
We caught up with them the week new single 'Hide Me' is released.
Do you want to introduce yourselves? I gather that 'The Wolf' is not the name for the rest of the band so tell us who you all are.
But surely you know who we are! :) Ali, Katie, Louis and Joana are waving to all the strangers who don’t.
Joana is from Lithuania. The rest of you are from London, is that right? How did you find each other?
Almost right. Katie is from Lincolnshire, Louis from Portsmouth. Only Ali is a London bred boy. And yes I was born in Lithuania. We were sitting on the same tree when it broke down and the wolf stood there beneath the tree... Destiny!
Joana - I've heard this story about the wolf, do you want to tell us about that? Is it a boy or girl wolf? It's there all the time inside you? Do you find yourself suddenly howling at random times on the bus for instance? I've seen wolves up close - I'd imagine you have to eat a special diet?
I swear I never thought about it. To think of the wolf's sex, wouldn’t it take away some kind of innocence? A boy - no, a girl - no no..a boy. Ah, a hermaphrodite! A gay wolf? Or a sexless creature , something like an angel? Or a demon? Depends who you are. The wolf is only a mirror. Yes always there, 24 hours non-stop, believe me it can be very tiring, sometimes I’m tempted to lock it in the zoo. Normally I try to behave and not to howl in public places but once I let it go in the park at 10pm and someone called the police and six cars came for me! So I try even harder since then to keep it quiet.
Are Ali, Katie and Louis safe near you?
Oh, they are the safest! The wolf doesn’t eat its kin, does it?
I've had the pleasure of seeing you live. You've got a very 'tight' delivery underneath the howling and the drama - what has it taken to get you to where you are now?
Maybe loyalty to each other and to the songs?
What's important to you musically? Is there anyone you'd point to here and now as 'doing it right'?
I don’t know. I think at the end of day music is there to express some emotions and ideas and there has to be honesty and great urge to do it. I don’t understand music without it. As long as someone has got it, it works. Everyone has different things to say so I can't tell that someone does it wrong. Lady Gaga does it right too, you know? I might not like what someone is saying though... But it’s just important to find your own language, to express it in the way so people at the other end can relate to it.
How would you describe each other? Or how do you think the rest of the band would describe each of you? "Come to a party and meet my friend...... You'll like them, they're......" ?
I guess we say simple things like – this is Katie my bassist, or Louis - my drummer... Once our French producer barked at me why am I being so rude and calling them mine. But I remember perfectly how Ali has introduced me to someone saying 'and this is Joana – my singer’. It is a simple word but it says a lot. I like also that it stresses the belonging fact. Each one of us belongs to the other. Simple and beautiful. We don’t need any cheap tricks of seducing other people to like them. When you introduce your brother to your friend you say ‘this is my brother’, and by this you mean - ‘you will like them, you must, full stop’, isn’t it like this?
You've got a great stage presence - how do you capture that on record? How close are the two?
They are not that different if you come to our gig and stand in the corner with your eyes shut. You should try it once for the entire gig. Once someone had done it and came up to me after the show and said with these huge eyes full of amusement - my god you’ve got songs! What do you see when you close your eyes? I see the same things on stage when I sing and when I’m in the studio.
What's your favourite place to play? Outdoors at a festival, a cellar in London, or somewhere more exotic?
I probably prefer indoors because you can feel the audience’s breath more. The energy doesn’t lick out to the sky. But festivals can be fun too, it involves travelling, spending more time together before going onstage. But at the end of the day it’s not about the place, it’s about the sound and the audience.
Tell us about the new single 'Hide Me'. It seems to be all about demons and dark things - why did you go for this rather than a nice love song that my granny would like?
Are you sure she's not gonna like it? Your granny might have more demons than I do. Really. It’s not about dark things, it’s about normal things, doubts, fears. Surely you too are in doubt sometimes? So these demons are just the symbol of things that bother us from time to time. Sometimes we have insomnia thanks to them. A friend of mine calls it a rabbit on the bicycle, meaning things when you constantly think about something and can’t get off it; so I could as well call them rabbits instead of demons, so it wouldn’t sound that dark. It still makes it a perfect love song, I talk to someone, there’s always this YOU or WE in the other end.
Does the single mean there's an album in the offing? Or is that just an old fashioned idea?
Ah music business mechanisms ... who has invented them anyway? Probably a single means there is a hope for an album! This time it’s a firm hope. We believe it will come out in January.
What is the most ridiculous thing you've each done in the cause of music?
We spent so much on rehearsals that amongst four of us we could buy a house for this money. But I think the most ridiculous things are just about to come.
If you could have special plans for the world, what would they be?
I hate all sort of planning. No plans.
What should I have asked and haven't? What do you want to tell the world?
Thank you Mike, it’s been my pleasure to answer your questions. The rest let it be unspoken but sung.