Give Joan As Police Woman credit. The musician (known to friends and family as Joan Wasser) not only has drawn praise from Lou Reed and the likes of Rolling Stone and Time Out, but her moniker was inspired by a 1970s cop drama starring Angie Dickinson. The name and the back story are pretty bad ass (read on). Want more proof she's too cool for school? In her new music video for track "The Magic" she has an older guy doing bicep curls with a fish. Insane.
In any event, Wasser hasn't let up for years. She's played and recorded with artists including Reed, Scissor Sisters, and Rufus Wainwright, and just released her fourth album "The Deep Field." I spoke with the one-woman show about her current U.S. tour, playing with greats, and that infamous Dickinson namesake.
How have you grown as an artist since your 2006 debut "Real Life?"
All truth be told, I wish I had grown a couple of extra arms so that I could assume a Kali-like ability to play two instruments at once but, alas, I am still human. Back on earth, over time I have become more and more comfortable with myself and therefore, I'm more relaxed on stafe and in the studio. I have learned that the more uninhibited I am, the better the music will sound, the easier it will flow, the easier it will be to be creative in the moment. And with music, it's all about the moment.
Well said. Deep Field is an interesting title -- Explain.
I was reading a science magazine where I saw photos of the part of space that Hubble poetically named "the deep field." It was a group of square photos fashioned together like a puzzle showing many beautifully shaped golden pieces against a deep black space. Hubble use this area to study how galaxies are formed because of its abundance of young galaxies. I was taken by how stunningly beautiful it was. I was in the midst of my own search to work out any of many unanswerable questions. It seems clear that within the microcosm of the mind and the infiniteness of space, human curiosity is never-ending.
This quest for knowledge that continues to raise more questions rather than firmly answer them, quite thrills me and fuels me. Don't get me wrong, it also drives me mad, but I realize I enjoy being a bit mad.
That's pretty heavy stuff. The single "The Magic" is pretty sweet. I think I get its message but just in case I don't read between the lines, what's it all about?
It's about looking for the magic formula to keep me out of my spinning brain insanity and ultimately away from a variety of self-destructive behaviors ..."thinking" about anything never really works all that well for me. I just get thinking and then I am stuck in my head and often, cannot get out easily. "Doing" is always the better approach but sometimes it's easy to forget to leave the house and get out of my head.
The bridge lyrics are "I wanna be bad! I wanna be bad ... my shadow must find the window in the wall." I want to obliterate all the voices temporarily with some flavor of self-destructiveness, but I know that it will only get me into an even more troubling situation ... so I continue to look for the window to escape the spinning. It is about the beauty and at times mind-numbing confusion of being a sentient being.
This is sort of burying the lede, but what's your stage name all about?
One day in the early 2000s I was walking down the street in some characteristically ridiculous powder blue polyester three-piece skintight suit. I used to dye my hair blonde like she did and my friend Reuben saw me and told me I was channeling 'Police Woman.' The name never quit. Since then, I have learned that it was the first drama starring a woman and that Angie was 40 when the series began. Her name was Sgt."Pepper" Anderson. You just can't beat that dressed in Halston carrying a gun. This is what dreams are made of.
You're 40. Did you have some epiphany occur or was it business as usual?
I'll be 41 in July. Honestly, I had been looking forward to it for a while. For me, there is something special about 40 and it never felt like something to shy away from. I saw it as something to revel in. I am the happiest I have ever been. I am the healthiest, and 40 equals heavy. For me, it means I made it. I am still alive for Christ sake. How did that happen? I got through all the mistakes and revelations of my youth and survived. I saw turning 40 as the demarcation point between a period of various levels of self-consciousness and insecurity and never having to give a rat's ass about what anyone else thought or what I used to think again. I also saw it as an opportunity to have a massive dance party on my roof, which, if you weren't there, was a delight.
I bet! Before we wrap this up -- who do you get compared to most? PJ Harvey?
Wow, I hope so! I get a lot of different feedback. People have very interesting ears ... all unique to them and their experience. Recently, I have been likened to Karen Dalton and Al Green, neither of which upset me at all. I have learned over time that comparison is entirely subjective. Comparison does not bother me. I think it's impossible to avoid. I like the unavoidable.
Speaking of the unavoidable ... Bieber fever is sweeping the nation. How can we stop it?
Can't you just get a shot of insulin or something?