In March of 2014, singer Joss Stone embarked on her World Tour. Now, over two years later, she’s not even halfway done. That’s because she’s trying to hit every country. Yes, all of them. Somehow, Stone managed to find some time to talk to FAULT about the tour, geopolitics, and Stone’d Records.
FAULT: How did you get the idea for the Total World Tour?
Joss: Okay, I will tell you a story: I was in Japan, and I was up a mountain playing a gig called Fuji Rock, which this lovely festival. I looked around, and I thought, “Everything is so different here.” I kind of felt like I was on another planet (Of course I wasn’t; I was on Planet Earth.). But I felt that I was very, very far away from home. The culture was very different there. The people were different. Their accents were different. They looked different. Everything was different. But when you make music, you connect with these people just like you would anybody else, anywhere else. So I thought, “Well hold on a minute. If music can take us here, music can take us anywhere. Why don’t we do that? Why don’t we do a World Tour?” You know, the answer is always going to be money. That’s why people don’t do it. But anyway, I just decided that wasn’t really right, and was gonna just do a World Tour and spread as much goodness as I can through music. And you know… I’m doing it.
FAULT: How did you become interested in world music in the first place?
Joss: I think I’m just interested in music. I don’t think I’ve ever really had a line. I’ve never really been the type of person to say, “I’m into soul music. That’s what I’m into.” I don’t really do that. I kind of just go, “Well, I just love music, and I’m interested in hearing all different things from all different people.”
FAULT: How many countries have you done so far?
Joss: 77, I think right now. I mean, there are about 204 total, but it really depends what you feel politically, because some places think that they’re separate countries, and they’re not. It really depends which list you go by. There’s one book that has 226, and then there are lists that say 196, and another list that says 204. But we’re trying to do as many as we can.
FAULT: What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned from all this?
Joss: People are good, aren’t they? I had that opinion anyway, so to say that I learned something on the World Tour is kind of bullshit. But I think that it’s solidified my opinion. Every time I move from one country to the next, I get this wonderful feeling of, “Ah, I knew it! I knew people were good! I know this!” But in a way, I’m trying to prove to myself that it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what culture you were brought up into. At the end of the day, we’re human beings. We all bleed red. And we all love. And we all laugh. And we all cry. You know, we are the same. We are brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. It doesn’t bear any difference at all to where you go. So far. I’m a girl who’s only been to 77 countries. Maybe at the end of it, I might have a different opinion. I’m always open to my opinion changing, but so far, it’s not happened.
FAULT: What’s something about music that you think artists from English-speaking countries can learn from the rest of the world?
Joss: I think there’s a lot of different colours out there that you can incorporate into your music. There’s a lot of different timings and notes that we don’t even use. Like an Indian scale is different to our scale. There are also different techniques you can use. In certain parts of Africa—which I haven’t been to yet, but I’m hoping to go—there are these women who play the drums with the water by cupping their hands. It’s like they are using nature as an instrument. We should do that more often. We should step away from our computers and go see what sounds the woods make, or what sounds the grass makes. Listen to the birds a little bit more often. Think outside the box. If we weren’t so blessed to have all this technology, what would we do then? Because making music is part of nature.
FAULT: How does it feel to go so far away and still have people singing along to your songs?
Joss: It feels amazing. It really does. It’s quite funny because to go somewhere like Botswana or Zambia and hear them seeing along, it was so cool. You really do have a moment where you’re like, “Wow, I cannot believe that they even know that.” Then when we get to a place where they don’t know it at all, and they’re totally hooked into the music that they’re hearing, that’s a whole other type of cool. Because they are listening purely for the music and not thinking, “Oh, there’s this famous girl onstage.” They don’t even know me, and I kind of like that because you don’t what you’re going to get. The reaction is very real. It’s not tainted, and no one has a preconception of you. So you get great stuff out of both seemingly opposite reactions. So far it’s been very positive, thank God.
FAULT: Do you think having had so much success at such a young age has maybe limited people’s perceptions of you?
Joss: Oh no, I don’t think that. I think sometimes people get stuck in one specific era. You can say that for any artist or any style of music. But some people just get stuck in a certain album. I’m absolutely guilty of doing that. I do that with many artists, where I love an album and never really move on. I like to be able to give those people a bit of joy and sing their songs as well. Because I completely get how fun that can be, to hear a song that you listened to when you were a kid or whatever. So their perception is what it is. And then you meet them and maybe it changes, who knows?
FAULT: How has releasing via your own label, Stone’d Records, been different from going through a traditional label?
Joss: I would say that it’s more free. I can do whatever I want without having to ask for permission. It’s kind of like the difference between working for yourself and working for someone else. It’s like the difference between being a hired singer and just being a singer of the planet. I work for myself now, so when I make the music that I make, there’s no person telling me that it’s wrong, or that it won’t sell anything, or that it’s it’s not a hit. There’s no negativity surrounding it. It’s just, “Hey, you you want to come make some music?” “Okay, let’s go do that. Hi.”
FAULT: How was your experience at the Grenada Festival?
Joss: I loved that, actually. That was really fun. I thought it was gorgeous—really lovely people.
FAULT: What are you working on right now?
Joss: My hair. I’m doing I’m hair right now (laughs)… Uhm, I have a bit of a project, a six-track EP that I wrote in my garden. It’s about mother nature. It’s really fun. We’re just working on the mix right now.
FAULT: What is your FAULT?
Joss: Well, my bad habits include smoking, which is not good—very bad for you; eating chocolate; probably sleeping in too late; and impatience.
Words: Cody Fitzpatrick
Photography: Jack Alexander
Hair and Make-Up: Louise Hall using Maria Nila @marianilastockholm and Laura Mercier