After taking a quick glance at what Toronto native Joanie Wolkoff has accomplished over the last few years, it’s easy for me to decide that she’s certainly not a slacker. In the recent past, she’s apparently been a fashion model in Japan, worked on a farm in China, and eventually ended up being a notable musician in Brooklyn, which is ultimately the reason we bring her up on this post.
Wolkoff’s debut record Talismans serves as a dance-tastic, toe-tapping voyage through several decades including the 80’s, 90’s, and even the 00’s that will remind you of collectives such as Chvrches, Purity Ring, and even The Eurythmics. To get a good handle on what she sounds like, or even looks like with a dog mask on, watch her video for “The Homecoming” below:
In the midst of a lengthy tour, her next stop happens to be scheduled to happen in Louisville at Kaiju this Friday, April 8th. Joining Wolkoff will be Quiet Hollers, and Jesse R. Berlin (New York). For more information on the event, visit the Facebook event page here.
To get you stoked on seeing Wolkoff this Friday, we reached out to Joanie for a quick e-mail interview. Thankfully, she was kind enough to answer a few of our questions…
Never Nervous: How would you describe the music you create to someone that has never heard you?
Joanie Wolkoff: I would have to put this novice through some pretty intensive recruitment training- maybe dress them in late 90’s rave garb (fun fur pants, holographic t-shirt), tie them into a chair and alternately force feed them Ace of Base music videos and disco from Uzbekistan.
Never Nervous: As much as I hate asking this question to musicians, I am genuinely interested in your answer to this: What bands/artists influence you to make the music you make?
Joanie Wolkoff: This is gonna sound schlocky if you read it out loud but here you go: I’m influenced by musical discovery every day. It’s all grist for the writer’s mill. I grew up with a glut of psych-folk, pan-generational pop, reggae, new age and the Canadian folk music playing in my parents’ vinyl collections. The Smiths, The Cure, Stereolab, 90’s hip hop, British Invasion jams and Jim O’Rourke kept me afloat in high school. I love dance hall radio and well-concocted EDM. I’m down with old school country. Jazz is rad. Shostakovich knows what’s up. Quiet Hollers are where it’s at. And Jesse R. Berlin is a tour de force of the human spirit but we’re all scared of him.
Never Nervous: After spending a considerable amount of time with your debut record Talismans, it’s easy for me to be reminded of electro-pop from the 80’s, 90’s, and 00’s. Is there a particular decade of music you feel most inspired by?
Joanie Wolkoff: I’m probably most inspired by the songcraft that happened between the mid 60’s and mid 80’s, but I’m a sucker for 90’s production.
Never Nervous: Lyrically, could you specify an ongoing theme throughout Talismans, or does it vary from song-to-song?
Joanie Wolkoff: Talismans plays around with ideas of happenstance versus fate. I wrote those songs during a time of creative upheaval and social flux, with the exception of “New York Grand,” which is Icarus Moth’s composition for a piano recital that he went on to revamp. Now riddle me this: was that piano recital a coincidence? Or DESTINY?
Never Nervous: Now that you’ve been on the road for a while, do you have any funny/weird tour stories you’re willing to share?
Joanie Wolkoff: Jesse R. Berlin has insisted on doing on all the driving during this tour. He’s constantly chugging Excedrin and blasting Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back in the car. He also swerves a lot (he claims to be dodging crows, though none of us can see them), and cries for no reason. We feel decidedly unsafe, but his performances are breathtaking so we just go along with it.
Never Nervous: Tell us about your favorite record from 2016 thus far.
Joanie Wolkoff: It’s early yet, but Wild Nothing‘s Life of Pause gave me, uh, pause.
Never Nervous: As a native of Ontario, how do you feel about poutine in the United States? Personally, after spending a considerable amount of time in Montreal, it’s hard for me to take any poutine seriously if it doesn’t simply consist of french fries, poutine gravy, and cheese curds. What the fuck is up with all the extras, like green onion, pulled pork, etc?
Joanie Wolkoff: Green onion? Pulled pork? Talk about gilding the lily. I’m a purist. Keep it 100… and please, it’s pou-TINE, not POU-tine.
Never Nervous: Before you go, give the folks in Louisville one good reason to come see you at Kaiju this Friday. Got anything special planned?
Joanie Wolkoff: You know, the usual: we’re gonna make it rain Benjamins, incite a feather fight, idolize Quiet Hollers. You may also enjoy Jesse R. Berlin’s stash of bottled water and duct tape in our trunk. He’s been accumulating it as he covertly throws away all our stuff at rest stops to prep for an apocalypse.