INTERVIEW: Josephine Foster
By Nicola Owen on October 25, 2012 in Music
Colorado native Josephine Foster is renowned as an adventurous singer-songwriter with a tremulous but powerful voice whose eclectic collection of sounds have been inspired and influenced by literary legends such as Lorca and Goethe as well as composers Brahms and Schubert.
Blood Rushing, released in September via Fire Records, is her first solo album for several years after a number of collaborations. She has written wisely and wittily as her alter ego, Blushing, narrating a collection of stories rooted in nature, myth and folklore which are at the same time robust and ethereal. “Blushing is a character from a larger work I’ve been creating for many years. The stories within the album are exploring her origins and became based in dance, the songs form a poetic series relating to that world.”
Josephine admits that it’s sometimes hard to separate herself from her creation. “Honestly Josephine Foster doesn’t exist much more than Blood Rushing. They are co-habitants of the same imaginary sphere and variations on a theme. Before I was reluctant to share these facets publicly, as in fact the most difficult thing to do is pretend I’m just Josephine.”
Josephine’s roots lay in opera, and while she’s also dallied with careers as a funeral and wedding singer, as well as working as a singing teacher in Chicago, she admits that her previous, and unfulfilled, aspiration to become an opera star still holds some appeal. “Opera and classical music are big foundations and founts of inspiration for me, although I have never explored them to the fullest. Although singing into a microphone filters and sets limits upon the voice, I still like to sing dynamically, inspired by the softs and louds of opera. There’s a lot of space around the mic that can be used, much to the sound person’s dismay!”
Foster is an artist that isn’t afraid to challenge herself. Previous releases have included an album of ukulele accompanied songs strongly influenced by New York publishers and songwriters Tin Pan Alley, and a short album of children’s songs. 2010’s Anda Jaleo, which sees Josephine sing entirely in Spanish, accompanied by her partner and Spanish guitar maestro Victor Herrero. She has covered Emily Dickerson (Graphic As A Star) and sung German art songs on A Wolf In Sheeps Clothing. Later this year Fire Records will also be re-releasing the 2003 album SOS JFK by Foster’s first band The Childrens Hour, a pop band formed with songwriter Andrew Bar.
In the live arena, Josephine’s charming alt. psyche folk is ably assisted by an impressive full band. Playing the Star & Shadow Cinema in Newcastle on Wednesday 31st October, Josephine’s band will include Victor Herrero, Trembling Bells’ Alex Neilson on drums and Paz Lenchantin from the Entrance Band on bass/violin. The album’s highly original style sees her rock-ballet chante set to the meta-pulsing Pan-American heartbeat of the Pueblo drum. For this show, Josephine will also be playing another set of songs accompanied by The Victor Herrero Band and singing only in Spanish. Rather than this limiting the audience’s understanding of her work and inspirations, her performance becomes utterly mesmerising.
As an accomplished piece of work with a thoroughly original method and style, Blood Rushing may set Josephine Foster apart, yet again, from her contemporaries, and proves she’s an artist with astonishing vision and admirable ambition.
- Grace & Slick: Josephine Foster at Star & Shadow