Sunday, December 16, 2018

Black Feminist/Sistah Punk Band Big Joanie Talk Debut Full-length SISTAHS, The Daydream Library Series & Much, Much More (The Witzard Interview)

Big Joanie are a Black Feminist/Sistah Punk band hailing from London, UK. Big Joanie initially started as the "solo" project of singer/guitarist Stephanie Phillips, who self-released 2013's "Out In The Country" & Demos EP before turning Big Joanie into a full-fledged band. Phillips and newly-recruited members Chardine Taylor-Stone on drums/vocals and Kiera Coward-Deyell on bass/vocals were enlisted for 2014's Lounge Sessions and Sistah Punk EP, as well as 2016's "Crooked Room" 7-inch EP. However, in true Punk/Hardcore fashion, the most recent incarnation of Big Joanie features Stephanie Phillips & Chardine Taylor-Stone, along with newest recruit, bassist Estella Adeyer.

Big Joanie have been creating a lot of buzz, garnering critically-acclaimed reviews, and amassing a slew of fans through a largely DIY/grass roots campaign for just about six years now. Miraculously, Big Joanie have now signed with Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) & Eva Printz's newly-launched imprint, The Daydream Library Series to unleash their proper debut full-length, Sistahs. I was fortunate enough to conduct a concise 6-question emailed interview with Stephanie, Estella & Chardine in recent weeks; the final product, which you will see below, has been lightly edited for general clarity. Big Joanie's Sistahs is now available to stream, download, or purchase from The Daydream Library Series/Ecstatic Peace Library & Cargo Records.


Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
Punk & Hardcore Purveyor

I. What were some of your greatest sources if inspiration and influence, while recording Big Joanie's debut full-length, Sistahs?

For "Fall Asleep" we were thinking of Joy Division and 24 Hour Party People. Then, "How Could You Love Me?" is a pretty obvious reference to 60's girl groups and Phil Spector-esque songs. The drum part and the recorder on "Eyes" is inspired by field recordings by Alan Lomax and Harry Smith. Fife and drum music is a really early form of Blues and we felt that it suited the song. The dramatic ending to "Eyes" was inspired by Throwing Muses. "Cut Your Hair" is inspired by Kate Bush's single "This Woman's Work."

II. How did you end up joining forces with Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth) & Eva Printz's The Daydream Library Series/Ecstatic Peace Library to release Sistahs?

We were playing at Electrowerkz in London supporting The Ex and unbeknownst to us, Thurston, Eva, and their colleague, Abby Banks, were dancing to our set in the audience. They had gone over to our merch table and asked where our album was, so we told them how we'd recorded it all, but hadn't found a label willing to put it out yet. They invited us for iced coffees the next morning and asked if we'd be cool with them putting out the album on their new imprint. Unsurprisingly, we were extremely cool with that.

III. How would you personally say your overall sound, style, and aesthetic has changed since Big Joanie's earliest "official" release, 2014's Sistah Punk EP?

Since Sistah Punk, we've all gotten more comfortable with our instruments and what our sound is and how to work with it. We still have the same references, but now we know how to draw them out better. Recording Sistahs was our first experience of working with a producer, so the sound on the record is much fuller and a bit more polished than our previous releases.

IV. I recently read a piece of press from The Daydream Library Series, which read, in part: "Big Joanie described themselves as being "similar for The Ronettes filtered through 80's DIY and Riot Grrrl with a sprinkling of dashikis..." would you care to quickly break down these various points of reference?

We're all influenced by 80's DIY and Punk and we're a trio, like The Ronettes. We're also, a political band, who were influenced by the way Riot Grrrl combined Feminism & Punk and dashikis references our cultural heritage.

V. The Daydream Library Series states the vinyl/cassette release of Sistahs will come with a "pristine "collector's edition" package" complete with a hand-made fazine. What will likely, be included within Big Joanie's Sistahs 'zine?

The Sistahs 'zine has some pretty excellent childhood photos of the band, along with a description of how each member got into music, all the lyrics to the songs, the story behind how the band formed, and an explanation of what Big Joanie means.

VI. Now, that Sistahs has been effectively unleashed into the world, what's next for Big Joanie? Also, where can eager fans get their hands on a physical edition of Sistahs?

We're currently touring Sistahs in The UK and in 2019, we'll be playing more shows in mainland Europe. We are also, very keen to come and play in The USA, so if anyone wants to help make that dream a reality, then, get in touch! Fans can get a physical copy of Sistahs from Cargo Records.

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