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Playing the Field - Playing the Field

2008-11-11 17:22
"I don't know...I like to think that I'm a singer songwriter, so I guess both of those images could be quite plausible" she chuckles, by way of answering which side of the 'strong 'n sensitive' or 'psycho-chick' fence she sits on. "But the scary psycho one is not really what I’d like to be known as. I just want to do what I love and not compromise my art. I just want to do what’s in my heart. But if that means I get all 'psycho' at times then I guess…'sorry'," she shrugs.

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Is this the same Field who stepped shyly onto the scene back in 2006 with her debut album, Mercury? The same songwriter who blushed when TV interviewers called her 'babe' and critics started comparing her to Alanis Morrissette? "In comparison to the last album …I am a bit more courageous" smiles Josie. "[I'm] not so timid lyrically and musically as a person. I feel like I've matured in some way. With this album I can stand my ground, and also experiment."

And experiment she has. On Leyland she steps out of any nu-folk straightjacket she might've been pigeonholed with to experiment with country and western, the blues, and even rap. "With this one I knew how things are supposed to work" explains Josie. "I felt like I could experiment artistically. And be more of who I want to be. After the release of Mercury in 2006 we put a band together. So now it was all four of us in the studio. After gigging for quite a while together – two years now – it's like a little team."

Speaking of teams, her partnership with Gallo Records seems to flout the stereotypes of Machiavellian major labels out to take advantage of young artists. "I consider myself really lucky" she says. "We finished recording the first album and then gave it to Gallo - which was the ideal way. A lot of artists tend to get signed to labels and then go 'go into that studio with that producer and make magic'. And that just doesn't happen. So I was lucky to find a producer I could connect with - that's how our relationship started. And ever since then they've let us do our thing because that's how they met us. It’s a trust thing. It’s been really healthy. A lot of artists haven't had such a pleasant experience."

Indeed. It must be great to be able to leave sales to the number punchers and simply sweep the creative side of the street: you know, writing songs and performing? "We've kept up our side of the bargain so to speak" says Josie. "I do a lot of shows. And that's because this is the only job that I have and I'm super passionate about it. I don't have a 'Plan B' so it has to work. They realise this is something I really want do."
While she may not have a back-up plan, if the genre-surfing experiments of Leyland are any indication Josie's clearly ambitious. But in this age of hyper-brand consciousness and niche marketing, isn't she worried that by dabbling in blues, country and rap she'll lose her core listeners?

"I think the beauty of people who write and sing their own songs is that they are singer songwriters and don't have to fit into a box," replies Josie. "You can flow in and out of genres depending on what kind of songs you're writing and what you're feeling. The fact that I was influenced by country and other types of music definitely comes across on the new album. We were also lucky enough to get EJ from Godessa to work on one track with us - "Law of Attraction" - which worked so well.

"I grew up on folk music. But my parents never really had any proper country music, so I only recently got into that kind of thing. People like Johnny Cash and Dolly Parton. Dolly Parton for me – besides the fact she's got the most fantastic voice I've heard in a long time, her songs are so beautifully simple. That's what attracted me to country music. The simplicity of the songs and the nature of the message is quite blunt and quite precise. I was very influenced by that."

Country singers are also master story-tellers, so how much of what she writes about is autobiographical? "For me, personally all of it is. I don’t know how to write any other way right now" confesses Josie. "I only write songs about me, really. The one thing, in this world I know for sure is me. I tend to write about my personal experiences, opinions I have and the way I see the world. My interpretation of what’s happening. It's my honesty that keeps me writing songs. I can’t write about something I don't feel strongly about.

"The new songs are mostly about me and where I am today. But there are also songs about love and love lost. And positive songs like the "Law of Attraction" that's about…the law of attraction and how powerful I find it as tool in living your life. The first track on the album is called "Beating Heart" which is a song about me, my blemishes and mistakes and all. That's why I get so worked up just talking about it. I feel so fiery. This is me guys, take it or leave it. I don't try and hide anything. It all really is there. If I want to say something I just say it. It's a snapshot of Josie in this space in 2008."

- Miles Keylock

"Is this going to be scary?" asks Josie Field perched on the edge of a couch in Gallo's offices. The sexy brunette singer songwriter seems oddly nervous about being interviewed about her new album Leyland. Then again, spilling your guts ten minutes before you're scheduled to bare your soul before an all-media audience in your record company's boardroom isn't exactly a dream gig.

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