Jo Bevans from Desperate Journalist: “I write about how I feel, and I always over-feel. I will always fit the melodies and words to whatever music we already have, as I think that’s incredibly important and helps get the songs communicate more effectively. But they’re always truthful, and about things I care deeply about. This album is about the anxiety of hope.”

El postpunk de clásica elegancia británica de Desperate Journalist regresa a Madrid desde North London.

Sus canciones, de arquitectura sólida, potentes bajos, guitarras insistentes, distorsiones, capas y texturas son la catedral sobre la que trepa y se alza la maravillosa voz de Jo Bevans, en la mejor tradición heredera de vocalistas como Morrissey, Martin Rossiter (Gene) o Tracy Thorn (Everything But The Girl).

A los conocedores musicales no se les ha escapado el guiño a una banda que no solo les influencia sino a la que homenajean en el propio nombre del grupo, tomado de una poco conocida canción de The Cure (la versión para una Peel Session de “Grinding Halt”, que el grupo de Robert Smith dedicó al periodista musical Paul Morley).

La audiencia indie les ha querido a su paso por el Festival de Benicàssim y el público oscuro también al subir al escenario del Wave-Gotik-Treffen, ambos en 2017.

Al igual que el título de su segundo disco, “Grow Up”, el grupo no ha parado de crecer desde su primer concierto en febrero de 2013. Esas dos aguas en las que navegan se ven reflejadas también en los grupos a los que acompañan, como fue el caso de la mítica banda indie The Wedding Present en 2018 o del no menos clásico grupo de darkwave The Chameleons Vox en 2016.

El grupo tiene una formación clásica y, junto a Bevans, el peso musical se descarga en el bajo de Simon Drowner, la guitarra de Rob Hardy y la batería de Caroline Helbert, quien aprendió a tocar el instrumento para poder formar parte de la banda.

En 2018 publican el epé de cinco canciones “You Get Used to it” y vuelven al estudio en otoño para registrar nuevas grabaciones, que presentarán en su concierto en Madrid, pues unos días después de la actuación, el 22 de febrero, Fierce Panda lanza “In Search of the Miraculous”. El disco viene precedido por el single “Cedars” publicado en Noviembre de 2018,

Nuestro compañero Josechu Egido ha hablado con Jo Bevans de Desperate Journalist para saber más de su nuevo disco “In Search of the Miraculous” y de sus planes de futuro.

THE INTERVIEW

Why you choose the name of Desperate Journalist for this musical project?

The name comes from an obscure Cure song titled ‘Desperate Journalist in Ongoing Meaningful Review Situation’ which sarcastically uses words from an unfavourable review of the band’s first album as lyrics. We thought it was funny and appropriate.

We still love the sound of Desperate Journalist this new LP “In Search of the Miraculous”, which, although still in the same musical line achieved in your previous works, we noticed something different, perhaps a sound more personal, perhaps more melancholic, perhaps more nostlagic, … It true that something has changed. What is it? What do you consider that has evolved in your music in these last two years from the cheerfull song “Why Are You So Boring?”

I don’t think ‘Why Are You So Boring’ is cheerful; it’s supposed to be a kiss-off to a type of person I don’t like!  This new album is much more romantic though, in both the poetic and emotional sense.

Your songscontains fantastic melodies, music precious, intimate, enveloping nostalgic and very evocative air almost melancholic sound. Songs, where not only music is given importance, but you have also worked on the lyrics in a special way. What can you tell us about it? What inspires you when it comes to making your songs?

I write about how I feel, and I always over-feel. I will always fit the melodies and words to whatever music we already have, as I think that’s incredibly important and helps get the songs communicate more effectively. But they’re always truthful, and about things I care deeply about. This album is about the anxiety of hope.

What expectations do you have with these songs?

These songs are far more ambitious structurally, musically and lyrically. I wanted to convey something of the hugeness and the seductive nature of  the unknown, and we wanted as a band to reach further than we ever had. I think it’s been successful and I hope people understand it as such.

Why you have titled “In Search of the Miraculous”, your incoming album?

It’s named after a conceptual artwork by the artist Bas Jan Ader; in the piece he aimed to sail across the Atlantic Ocean in the smallest craft ever to have been used for such a purpose. He ended up lost at sea. As someone who grew up going  back and forth across the Atlantic, and who at the time of writing the songs was going through a huge leap of faith in my personal life, the image really resonated with me. The artwork is about the classic Romantic search for the sublime. Our music, and my brain, are dramatic and emotional enough that it seemed like a perfect fit.

What are your plans for this 2018 and next 2019? We suppose that to turn around the world, but something that you can advance us? Important events? When on sale “In Search of the Miraculous”?

We are doing a number of gigs at the beginning of this year following the release of the album on 22nd February.I’m unsure as to what the rest of 2019 holds…

Do you think the digital world will end with music as we know it today? What do you think is the future of music?

I have absolutely no idea. I’m gradually getting used to the idea of not owning everything I love on a physical format, or even digitally, as my laptop was stolen a couple of years ago with all my music files (collected over ten years) on. Streaming is fine. Maybe it’s good not to be so attached to sounds. I still buy LPs if I really want to hold something close to me though. In terms of genres, I think it’s all going to get a lot more blurred, which can only be a good thing. More cross-pollination please. Death to Rockismforever.

How is a normal day in the life of a member of  Desperate Journalist?

Most days at the moment (bleak midwinter in the UK) I wake up at 6.45am, groggily drink some tea and eat some toast, shower, get dressed and go to work at my job at an art gallery. I am responsible for organizing all our trips to various art fairs, some other general administration, and I also sit on the front desk sometimes receiving visitors. The artwork we show is generally interesting and I like the people I work with. It’s the best job I’ve ever had. After work I walk through the crowds in central London avoiding eye contact at all costs and take the tube home whilst listening to a WFMU radio show or a podcast on my phone, praying the battery doesn’t die and that I don’t fall asleep in my coat and miss my stop. I’ll get home at around 6.30, eat a vegetarian dinner, and listen to music/watch something dramatic/contemplate the enormity of existence with a glass of wine or 3, or a cup of herbal tea, until I go to bed and read something pretentious until the cat lying on my stomach makes me too drowsy to stay awake. It’s not very rock and roll but I’m happy.

What do you think about the current economic and social situation in the World in general?

In the immortal words of Jarvis Cocker, cunts are still running the world.

MISCELLANY

Could you tell us about…

…a book?:

I’m currently reading the second volume of Derek Jarman’s journals, ‘Smiling in Slow Motion’. I love his films, his writing and his worldview so it’s comforting and keeping me afloat in these dark winter months. I’m also dipping into Michael Symmons Roberts’ ‘Drysalter’ every now and again, which is a collection of his poetry. It’s very lyrical, beautiful and transporting.

…a movie?:

The last film I saw at the cinema was The Favourite, which I found beautifully realised and wonderfully acted but a bit lacking in substance. But perhaps that’s because I saw it at the cinema. I prefer watching films on my own.

…a song?:

‘Joy’ by Loma – I discovered them last year and this is soaring, heroic folk-rock, a bit like Shearwater but with a softer vocal.

…an album?:

My favourite of last year was ‘Honey’ by Robyn. I love all her work but that record in particular is a pinnacle of the heartbreak-pop genre she essentially coined.

… a group or soloist ?:

I’ve been listening to a lot of Disco Inferno as I tend to every winter; they are an older band from the early 1990s who made wonderfully weird, melancholic sound-art pop. If you haven’t heard of them I urge you to seek them out.

…a hobby?:

When it’s slow at the gallery and I’m on the front desk, I sneakily do a lot of ink sketches of random images I find online. Figuring out how to make different textures and shadows with a single colour and pen and not being precious or perfectionistic about it is a heartening and rewarding thing.

Thank you very much for your time and congratulations for your music. We like it!

Thanks very much! I’m glad to hear it.