Joan As Police Woman on creativity, The Solution Is Restless, and her Australian tour

We sat down to chat with American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Joan As police Woman before her upcoming Australian tour.

With a career spanning three decades, and nine solo albums in her incredible discography, when Joan As Police Woman was lauded as ‘one of the 21st century’s best musicians’ it wasn’t a title awarded carelessly.

After starting her career in the early ‘90s playing violin and songwriting with the likes of the Dambuilders, Black Beetle, Antony and the Johnsons, and Those Bastard Souls, it wasn’t until American musician and singer-songwriter Joan Wasser stepped into the shoes of her solo musical moniker Joan As Police Woman that she truly started to come into her own.

Her evergrowing list of collaborators is exceptional – from Elton John, to Lou Reed, Sufjan Stevens, RZA of the Wu-Tang Clan, Rufus Wainwright, John Cale, Sheryl Crow and the Scissor Sisters. During her most recent creative period, a window of time created by the pandemic-induced lockdown, she not only released three records under her Joan As Police Woman moniker, she also managed to work with Gorillaz‘ Damon Albarn on their Song Machine album and write and record with Dave Okumu of The Invisible and legendary drummer Tony Allen on her most recent album The Solution Is Restless.

Grief is a topic that Joan As Police Woman has reflected on and created within throughout her career. It was the untimely death of her partner Jeff Buckley that, she told The Arts Desk, “forced me to sing. It was so painful and I had nowhere to put it. The pain was too great.” []. There have been many others that, too, have been painfully well documented. It is a process she has explored throughout her catalogue of music.

It is that same emotion that runs deep through her latest album The Solution Is Restless. From the passing of legendary master drummer Tony Allen soon after their recording session together, to the covid-ravaged New York City Wasser called home during the creative process, and the recent passing of a close friend – this record is as much about healing as it is about any other theme or emotion.

Last in Australia in 2019, Joan As Police Woman toured in solo mode to promote her Joanthology – a collection of music that celebrates her 15-year musical catalogue. When she returns to Australia later this year, it will be with a supremely talented three-piece band, and – alongside celebrating the music from her latest album – together they will rearrange and reimagine that back catalogue anew.

Before she heads to Australia, we sat down with Joan As Police Woman’s Joan Wasser to discuss her recent period of creativity, her latest album The Solution Is Restless, and her forthcoming tour.

Joan As Police Woman Tour Dates

  • June 2, 2022, – Palais Theatre, St Kilda VIC
  • June 3, 2022, – State Theatre, Sydney NSW
  • June 4, 2022, – The Tivoli, Brisbane QLD

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Joan As Police Woman x Tony Allen x Dave Okumu (Feat: Damon Albarn) – Get My Bearings

You’ve had an incredible last couple of years – working with Gorillaz as well as releasing three records of your own. What has inspired and driven this period of creativity for you?

JOAN AS POLICE WOMAN: “First of all I don’t own a TV! I have never had one.

“The thing I care about most is music. When I feel inspired, I have learned that I must take advantage of that moment right then. The spark will continue to give back to me when I take the time to honor it.

“When the world shut down, I found myself with, what felt like, massive gifts of time. I tried to use it in the most constructive way I knew how. Composing, recording, and producing a variety of music allowed me to psychically survive what was happening externally.”

What are the biggest lessons you learnt and challenges you’ve faced throughout this creative period?

“I have realised there is no such thing as writer’s block. There is simply observation time and output time. One doesn’t exist without the other. I have to do a lot of living my life for there to be anything to write about.

“I am always learning how to use my creative time more wisely. I have learned that when something isn’t flowing, I need to quickly move to another song or idea. Trying to find something that isn’t available right then is a good way to get frustrated. I have always found it later.”

One of those records is your new album The Solution Is Restless. What does creating this album and having it out now in the world mean to you right now?

“I put together an improv recording session with the legendary master drummer Tony Allen and multi-instrumentalist Dave Okumu in November 2019. I planned on composing from the tracks we made when I had time. That time happened much earlier than I expected.

“I was in the studio, just beginning to edit the drums when I got the call about Tony’s passing. It added even more weight to an already horrifying time. While I guessed I might get one, maybe three, songs out of the tracks, I ended up composing ten. I had so much energy to channel into the songs. I worked on it 16 hours a day – I had to.

“To have it out in the world right now is overwhelmingly wonderful.”

Joan As Police Woman x Tony Allen x Dave Okumu – Geometry Of You

What is your favourite memory from writing and creating the record?

“To create this album, I used both my home studio and the professional studio, Trout Recording, where I’ve made most of my albums.  My friend and engineer, Adam Sachs, would ride our bikes from our apartments and meet at the studio everyday. We would edit, record, arrange, and then I’d continue working at my home studio.

“I did all the strings and vocals at my home studio. I’d work late into the night creating string arrangements, singing 100 tracks of vocals, and then basically pass out my desk. In the morning when I’d listen to what I recorded the night before, I’d often have no memory of what I’d done. It was like magic, hearing what had happened the night before.

“When the music is flowing, it does feel like it’s coming through me. Exhaustion can be a tool as well – when I have no energy to think, the music can breathe easier.”

Is there a theme or central point within this record? Where did it grow from, and how did it come about?

“My albums are always about the time they were written. Because New York City was getting decimated by Covid, there was death everywhere. My close friend Hal Willner had died three weeks before Tony. I was in a state of shock and grief. The first song I wrote was ‘Get My Bearings’. The first words are ‘what will you do with the rest of your day/ with the rest of your life? you don’t know the sun will rise tomorrow’ – meaning the sun will rise but you may not be here to witness it. Otherwise, make the most of every moment. It had never been more urgent than it was then.

“The title of the album, The Solution Is Restless,  is taken from the song ‘Geometry Of You’. It stems from a couple of ideas:  the first is that math is flexible – quantum theory proved that. There is sensuality in numbers. The second is the idea that there are many solutions to a problem. If we imagine there is only one solution, all discussion is over. If there is openness to many solutions, there is communication, collaboration, listening, understanding, creativity, and ultimately more love.”

Joan As Police Woman x Tony Allen x Dave Okumu – Take Me To Your Leader

In a few months, Australian fans will get to experience some of this new music live – what can we expect from the upcoming shows?

“You can expect a quartet of musicians who love playing together, making inspired music each night for you!

“Parker Kindred on drums and vocals, Benjamin Lazar Davis on bass and vocals, and Eric Lane on Keys and vocals. These are the very best musicians on the planet. You’ll see (and hear).”

We hear there will be two separate sets of music – can you dive a little deeper into that?

“I don’t really think of our show being two sets of music: it’s all part of my repertoire. We will be performing songs from the new album as well as from my other nine albums. We have developed new arrangements for the old songs to present a cohesive show. It’s not only a show I look forward to playing every night, it’s also been received very well!”

What do you love about making and performing music

“Music is the only true universal language. It enters one’s ears and dives straight into one’s soul, one’s emotional centre. Music is undeniable. Music bypasses all small talk, all the stuff that doesn’t matter. When I’m in it, I feel the most at home.”

Joan As Police Woman – The Magic

Joan As Police Woman will bring her new album The Solution Is Restless ,alongside her expansive catalogue of music, to Australian stages this June. Tickets are on sale via