Londoners are famous for having a good old knees up around the “old Joanna” (piano) with their “china plates” (mates). In fact if you were to believe the portrayal of Londoners as painted by “comedic” screenwriter Richard Curtis you’d probably expect to walk into a London pub and be accosted by the local market traders dressed up as pearly kings and queens desperate to sing songs about “Mother Brown” or “Any Old Iron.” Meanwhile hoards of cheeky chimney sweeps would be tap dancing their way across the capitals roof tops waving happily to the local childminders in Regents park “ Gawd Bless ya Marror-ie Poirpains.” Lumme guv, look lively, it’s the local coppers, thumbs hooked jauntily behind their lapels as they give passers-by a sparkling rendition of “The Lambeth Walk”, whilst merrily cuffing mucky cheeked young mischief-makers about the head. Hark! Is that the refuse collectors noisily singing about one of their number getting married in the morning, as they go about their business with stoic good natured cheer whilst musically detailing the grooms worries about arriving at the church a little late ? Oh look there’s the Prime Minister Of Scotland, England, Hugh Grant and a nightingale appears to be singing in Berkley Square (as I live and breathe).
Luckily not many people actually believe the sort of ludicrous stereotyping that Richard Curtis oft employs in order to sell his dreadful “whimsical” fare to America and beyond (Love Actually, erm no mate, Shit Actually). Thankfully not everybody from London who spots a piano is immediately filled with an urge to start bashing out “Oh What A Lovely War” ala Mrs Mills. The reality is Londoners can produce some marvellous music if you allow them to tinkle the ivories, look at Kate Bush for example, and more recently Kate Nash. Another artist from London that’s been attracting a fair bit of attention and has access to a piano is 17-year-old Jose Vanders. ( not pronounced “Jose” as in Jose Mourinho , think more like short for Josephine) Compared by some to the Kate Nash/Lilly Allen school of music, (whatever that means) she’s been steadily gaining a reputation as a prodigious talent and a fine songwriter. Last year saw her self release a debut EP “Transitional Language” which sold out within days, camp as Christmas gossip monger extraordinaire Perez Hilton tipped her for the top and in between she’s even managed to get a job with BBC 3 whilst doing her schoolwork. Phew! Puts you to shame doesn’t it ! We had a chat with her and were somewhat relieved she didn’t confuse us simple northern types with talk of “apples and pies” “mince pears” and “plates of braising steak”
VP: WOTCHA ! Ahem I mean Hello …How did you get involved in the shadowy world of popular music ?
JOSE: I woke up one morning, washed my face, moisturised and decided to be a pop star. Although before that came endless hours of piano practise with my dad standing behind me singing West End hits and Billy Joel at the top of his lungs, and then a sudden realisation that I could write songs too and sing them myself. And then the salesman in Comet advised me on a good microphone for under twenty pounds and I went with it. The rest as they say…
VP: You’ve stated that you grew up in a house that had more pianos than TV’s. Didn’t this make watching Eastenders a tad tricky, and do you play any other instruments?
JOSE: Ah indeed it did. But don’t worry, the dramatic delights of Albert Square were never ever sacrificed. Sadly, the only vivid episode I still have lodged in my brain is the Truman family incident: ‘what about meeeee?!’ But yeh I play the violin, I got to Grade 7 but my family thought it sounded like a sick cat when i played. So I gave that up. I dabbled with the oboe but that too failed. I’m working on guitar. Well, I will when I finish school. Ha.
VP: You have released your first Mini Album/ Ep Transactional Language (August 2007?) which is outrageously brilliant. How did you go about self releasing it ? ? Was it a fairly straightforward process?
JOSE: Ahh god! I cringe when I listen to those songs. It was well over a year ago now. Mmm, well I just didn’t think about it and did it. I recorded the songs in my neighbour’s living room in one afternoon [it literally took four hours, I only recorded one take for the piano parts, and one or two takes for the vocals, and I had never even heard of a click track. That’s why I cringe now.] But yeh my friend Fetts drew some pictures and I went down to the local printers in Blackheath and bargained with the owner to print 500 sleeves for 80 quid, and then spent the next four weeks assembling cds, making badges, wrapping them all up in magazines and parcel tape, I tried to sign each one and then went to the post office pretty much every day. i absolutely loved it! it was very easy, and I got loads of my friends to help out [much to their displeasure]. In fact, I loved it so much that I’m planning on self- releasing another mini album just after the Summer. And I’m doing the whole recording in a studio thing which I’ve never done before, quite excited! But I’m determined to self-release the whole thing. I wanna make each one personalised. Admittedly it might take a while to package up thousands of cds by hand but i love it. [I secretly love the business and marketing side of it all more than i love the songs. I love making lists, and charts, and figuring out prices, and postage costs, and economical uses of paper. ahh. but don’t tell anyone that. it’s obviously all about the music. Y’know, it’s in my skin. or blood. or whatever they say.]
VP: You’ve previously said that you where brought up with the likes of James Taylor, Cat Stevens and Joni Mitchell it must have been a big house, but seriously who would you say are major influences from the current musical scene?
JOSE: Yeh me and Joni go back a long way. We had the same childminder you see; used to play Batman and Robin and all that jazz. I was always Poison Ivy. As for today’s musical ‘scene’, I am addicted to Polly Paulusma and Fionn Regan, and constantly listen to The Books, Damien Rice, Death Cab for Cutie, Cocorosie, Sigur Ros, Gregory and the Hawk, Chris Garneau, Bloc Party, Modest Mouse, Minus the Bear, John Mayer, Rocket Summer, etc.. But I have made it a habit for the past eight months or so to buy physical cds instead of downloading. Recently I’ve bought and loved and played in my car to DEATH: Frou Frou, Laura Marling, The Bird and The Bee,Tom Williams and Yann Tiersen
VP: You’ve been studying as well as releasing records and performing . (Any chance of a song about Oliver Cromwell a “Liberty Of Conscience’ EP perhaps?) Has it been hard to juggle both?
JOSE: Yeh well coincidently my next album is called ‘A Day in the Life of Alexander II, the Tsar Liberator’. What a guy he was eh. But yeh, it’s been so ridiculously hard you wouldn’t believe. Any spare time I have I’m at the piano, or down in Brighton practising with Thom and writing songs, or I’m just thinking about how I’m gonna package up the next cd. It’s gradually consuming me. My brain is now divided into 83% music 15% work and 2% calculating the next available pg tips moment. But yeh, only a couple of months left. BRING ON THE SUMMER is what i say.
VP: Your celebrating your 18th Birthday with a gig at the Lincoln Drill Hall. Will there be cake ? Balloons? And are you excited at having Eddie Harrison on the bill
JOSE: Yesss I am indeed. I’ve just got back from band practise; we ran through the set and it sounds pretty decent. Like nothing I’ve done before. In fact I’m a little scared. I’ve got six songs which have drums, guitar and bass. It’s gonna be different. And as for balloons and cake I have no idea. Cake=a big fat yes. but balloons… Fetts is mightily scared of them. balloon phobia. You know how it is. So hopefully not too many… !! and i am so excited about seeing Eddie. He’s FABULOUS.
VP: What’s all this about BBC 3 ? How did that come about, what does it involve? Is it fun ?
JOSE: Ahh yes. Well I got an email from someone at bbc3 asking me to go in for a casting for some up and coming thing they were doing, and I thought it was a massive massive joke, and half-heartedly replied. And she asked me to go in for a casting. So I went up after school, stood in front of a camera, and then they said ok introduce the Mighty Boosh GO, and I had to improvise. Obviously I pulled my ‘make them laugh’ card, which basically involved me going on about Noel Fielding’s bottom [devilishly good-looking bottom in fact]. So a while passed, then I got a call in the new year telling me I had got the job. I was like uhhh what job. It took me mum about three weeks to finally believe me that I worked for bbc3. Ha. And it basically involves me writing poor jokes, going into the studio every monday and telling them to a camera. it’s pretty fun yeh!
VP: Where do you get your ideas for your songs ?
JOSE: I’m not really sure. from my subconscious I suppose. I went to see Sweeney Todd at the cinema and wrote two really spikey songs the following evening. I was reading Larkin poetry for my a2 english and wrote a song based on that. i write them about people, faces, feelings. being in love. getting dumped. the usual. y’know.
VP: Confession is good for the soul sooooo- You’ve said you had a file on your computer called “What On Earth Was I thinking?” which contains amongst others a song about Aladdin and his magical Lamp. Any other songs in that folder you’d like to admit to ?
JOSE: Oh GOD. That folder. I’m tempted to press the delete button in fact, just in case anyone finds it. I’d be RUINED I tell you. The highlights include a song about a girl who gets killed by her mother, a recipe for rhubarb crumble cake sung to a weird collection of notes, a song about not wearing make up on the bus and chatting up the man who works at blockbuster… I could go on. But I won’t.
VP: I know somebody who once called you “a Posh Kate Nash” Does that sort of thing annoy you ? Is it a bit of a lazy comparison?
JOSE: Ahh I haven’t heard that one. Well to be honest, I do sound a bit like Kate Nash, so why shouldn’t people be quick to make such a comparison?! I do it with bands myself. All I know is, that yeh fair enough I’m always gonna be a pianist and a lass from London, so the comparison is always gonna be made. But what I also know, is that the last song I wrote is so completely different to the first song I ever wrote, and that must mean something. I’m progressing, and maturing. albeit painfully slowly. And I have confidence in time and time alone that my writing will improve, my musicality will improve, my self-confidence will improve, and my originality will improve. I can’t do anything about it. So I’m sitting tight, and waiting for it to happen naturally. And I have faith that it will. and then one day maybe – hopefully – I won’t be a ‘posh Kate Nash’ anymore. Who knows? Time knows.
VP: Five things you aim to do this month ?
JOSE: Write lyrics to the new EPIC pop song that Thom and I concocted. 2. Stop eating ice cream out the tub by myself late at night. 3. Learn about the Four Dumas that were set up in early 20th century Russia and what they achieved. 4. organise an outfit for my best friend’s 18th p party. I might go as Pandora. as in Pandora’s Box Pandora, which would basically just be a toga. I’m not too sure yet. 5. be nicer to my boyfriend. he’s a keeper.
1 new ride
2 faces going places
3 alberto morrocco
4 ode to gilbert
5 a little love song
7 without your kisses
“Faces Going Places” By Jose Vanders
“Without Your Kisses” By Jose Vanders