Interview: Big Joanie on ‘Happier Still’, Their Inspiration and London Haunts
We were delighted to catch up with Black feminist punk band Big Joanie ahead of their Grace Jones Meltdown appearance at Southbank Centre.
The band is made up of Stephanie Phillips, Estella Adeyeri, and Chardine Taylor-Stone.
Big Joanie’s new single ‘Happier Still’ is out now: https://pocp.co/happier-still. The single is out now on Kill Rock Stars and Daydream Library Series.
Tell us about your newly released song ‘Happier Still’ and its relation to depression. What does it mean to you?
Steph: To me ‘Happier Still’ is like a chant or a mantra you can repeat to yourself when you feel unhappy or if something goes wrong. Repetitively saying “I’ll feel fine” seems like it could do something in the moment. It also seems kind of funny to me to be so desperate to feel happier that you try and trick yourself into it by saying you feel fine.
You have lots of gigs coming up in iconic UK venues including at Southbank Centre, Eventim Apollo and De La Warr Pavilion. What are your favourite venues and crowds to play to?
Estella: We really enjoy playing at Brixton Academy as Brixton is the area where the band formed, where we rehearsed for many years, has been Chardine’s home for years, and Brixton Academy is the venue I grew up going to see some of my favourite bands in. The crowd always seems pretty interactive and welcoming there whichever artist we’re playing with there, though our favourite crowds to play to will of course be those who come to our headline shows – it’s always a diverse audience in terms of gender, race, sexuality and age, and they usually share similar values in terms of looking after each other while still enjoying the show.
What message do you want your audiences to take away with them?
Steph: I think I want our audiences to be inspired to make their own music by watching us. The band started at an event called First Timers that encouraged people to play new instruments and perform their first gig together to encourage more marginalized people into music. I really hope that when people leave our shows they feel like they could do what we do, because they definitely could.
What or who inspires you to make music and share it live?
Steph: I think what inspires me to make music is usually the people and places around me. There are so many inspiring people in the punk scene that made me feel comfortable enough to get on stage.
I also get inspired by random interactions I have with people, awkward moments in a conversation, an overheard phrase that sticks in my head, and always watching too many random videos on YouTube.
What are your favourite London haunts?
Chardine: My favourite haunts in London are Trisha’s Bar in Soho and Mona’s Bar in Tottenham.
To eat, Pham Sushi by the Barbican or Roti Joupa in Clapham.
For a day out I like to go to the bookshops on Charing Cross road and in Bloomsbury my favourite being Treadwells.
I am Joint Editor at To Do List. I like free, cheap & offbeat London, especially: cabaret, art, theatre, pop-ups, eating out, quirky films, museums, day trips, social enterprise & much more.