AHHA: So what happened with your management?
Joss: My management just disappeared. I never spoke to them. They didnt even tell me [they werent managing me anymore]. They kind of uninvolved themselves without mentioning it. So I had to work it out. A week before Christmas, they decided to disappear. I was like, Maybe theyre on a holiday? Im like calling and emailing nothing.
AHHA: Why would they step away from you though? Thats ridiculous.
Joss: I will never know the reason why. I guess I will have to find out, but I tried. I guess theyre just embarrassed because they didnt do their job properly or whatever. I had to go and renegotiate my deals myself and I was so scared. But it made me grow. It forced me to grow. I was nervous like, Shit I should have my management here. Oops! Dont have any. [laughs] But I figured it out as you do. Nothing scares me anymore. Why? Why waste your time being scared? Something scares you, do it, just to find out. Then you can grow and move on in life. Its a much more fun way to live.
AHHA: How did you link with Raphael Saadiq?
Joss: I love him. Hes f*cking brilliant. I just met him one day and was like the first time I met him I didnt like him. I thought, Raphael, you are a miserable f*ck. He was just so quiet! But hes not at all. When he talks you cant shut him up. But I didnt know that at first. I just loved his music. I heard some things he had done, for like Mary [J. Blige] I Found My Everything and he did my favorite Erykah Badu song Love of My Life. Oh my God, oh my God. Love that song.
So anyway, I go in there thinking, Ok. Musically hes brilliant. Now, whats he going to be like in person? Its all about people. Theres two songs I just took off my record a couple days ago because the person who was involved with it was being an ***hole because the energy was wrong. They taint it with bad energy, and Im like, Why would you do that? This is my child. Dont f*ck with my child. I love the song. It will be heard. Its been leaked once. The whole album has been leaked. Im like whatever, its been heard. It will be heard. Its all good. As long as the world hears it, it doesnt bother me.
I dont want [the song] on my album because the energy of that man his name is Dave Gates I dont know if you know about him. Hes a manager for Dallas Austin. He cursed me out on the phone and just was he wouldnt give me the splits and I needed to give them in. That was my part of the deal. I needed to give them in before a certain time so everyone could get paid. I dont care, give me 1%. I know I wrote those songs. You know who the songs are about. One of them is about Beau, the other is about my friend Alex. It doesnt matter, take it all, give me 1/2%. I just need the splits so that I can give it in. He deliberately kept it back so he would get me to that point because I really should have equal, but Im just really not bothered.
And then he just cursed me out on the phone. I cried and I was all upset. I had bronchitis. I was like, Hes so mean to me. I was such a girl. I got so upset. He was just so nasty. I was like, Why are you so nasty? He was like, Im talking to you like a manager to a manager. If you wanna f*cking manage yourself, Ima talk to you like a f*cking manager. I was like [gasps] Honey you shouldnt talk to anyone like that. Youre just mean now. I actually thought he was nice before, and he told me I was just nice because that was my way of hustling. Thats my manipulative way. Im like, No actually Im just a nice person. I just kinda like you right now so Im being nice to you. In the end he kind of forced me to hate him. I dont know why. But anyway, energys wrong, take him off the record. Im all about energy.
The album, this for me, is my first real child. I got to make it. Every note I love. Every word Im saying I believe. Theres nothing on here I dont like so why would I taint it with that energy? So he just f*cked himself over basically. Silly bastard. The songs will still be heard; I can play them at the shows. Spreading the music. Thats what Im about. I dont care if people take it for free. Its not about money, but with those motherf*ckers it is about money. Thats the shame of it. They just make [the music] feel bad and I dont want that. Im telling you what though, this album has a good energy. I made sure of it. Its very important that every person involved is a beautiful person.
So back to Raphael, he told me that he didnt believe it. He thought that it was too good to be true. He said, You know they told me that you wanted me to produce the whole record and nobody does that. I asked him, Why were you such an ***hole the first day? Because now were like best mates. I feel like Ive found my spirit with music in him. Hes like my vessel. Ive been playing this record for years in my head, and he was the only one who could bring it out of me. Nobody else heard me, and nobody else wanted to hear me. If I said to Raphael, I dont like that bassline, can you do this? Hes like, Ok sure. Let me figure out something that youd love. If I said that to someone else, theyre like, No no no. It should be like this. Im like, Ok thats fine but we need to work together. Like I will suggest something to [Raphael] like with my [album] artwork. I love it. Its so cool.
AHHA: The cover of your album with the body paint is beautiful.
Joss: Thank you! I just wanted it to be odd. I didnt want it to be just a girl with her make-up done. Thats what it was before we did a whole photo shoot. We did it, I looked at the pictures and they bored me. They didnt inspire me. I really wanted it to be perfect and wanted it to be art. I want every part of it to move somebody; not just the music. I worked so hard on the music, the artwork has to be just as stunning. It has to say things, and it cant just be a piece. [On the new artwork] I made myself black and white, and the only thing thats color is the art and the pink in my hair.
AHHA: Love the pink hair, by the way
Joss: Thank you, Im glad you like it! Oh my God! My hair…there was a big issue about my hair with the record company thats why I went pink. They were trying to make me go back blond. I was like No. They were literally calling meetings about my hair. I was like, Guys, this is ridiculous. Im a singer, not a model. So I dyed my hair pink. They were like, You have to go back blond. Please, well take a picture. You can dye it back to whatever you want. I was like, Ok Ill dye my hair. And this is what came out. Dont f*ck with me and my hair! [laughs] No! You cannot tell me what color to wear my hair. Thats not what industry Im in. Im not here to look how you want me to. Im not here to even sound how you want me to. So they let me do what I wanted to.
So the artwork I basically went to LA this was the point where I lost my management I had this idea. I was thinking, Hmm what do I do? I dont want the front cover to be my face. Thats really important for me. I never want it to be my face not once because its not about that. I wanted it to say something. And then for some reason it [snaps fingers] came to my head. I took a Polaroid from some photoshoot I was doing and I kissed this mic and it looked like a really nice picture. I was like, Thats cool. I want to have that graffitied onto a wall somewhere and have that be the front cover. It would be a painting. It wouldnt be a picture of me, it would be someone making a piece of art.
There was a guy at Electric Lady who was a graffiti artist and was working as one of the techs. His name is Joshua Lutz. Sweet. What a nice boy. And we walked around just me and him for hours looking for a wall to paint. We kept asking people to borrow their walls, going into cafes and restaurants. I tried to call my management. At this point they werent picking up the phone, they just disappeared. I wanted help. Im out here looking, can you make some calls? So I ended up getting in touch with my managements assistant and he helped me. What a sweet boy. His name is Michael Colin. Absolutely gorgeous person. He said, Ok Joss. I found a place called 5 Pointz
AHHA: Oh 5 Pointz!
Joss: Yes I love it. The guy who runs it, Meres, hes the one who painted me. I was walking around 5 Pointz because I got Joshua my murals down there. Its massive. Its a picture of me kissing a mic and theres flowers and it says Joss. So thats the back cover. We took those pictures and made it into a peace sign. Meres walked me around and showed me his work. Oh my God, the man is talented. Brian, my hair stylist hes like my best friend he was like, Could you do that on someones body? So I was like [gasps] Hold the f*cking phone! Youre coming to LA. Im going to get a photographer. And literally I had like a couple days to do it. Christmas was coming like three days away, and I gotta be home for my mum. So my management wasnt picking up the phone, and Ive gotta organize this photo shoot.
I called Brian Bowen Smith who took the picture. Brians a friend of mine, and what a lovely guy. Thats a friend; he came through for me. I said, Brian I need you to help me. I dont know what to do. I dont have management. I dont have anything. I will pay you out of my pocket; just give me a second to find it. I have an idea and all I need you to do is press click. He lives in L.A., so I wasnt going to ask him to fly out to me. I flew Meres out. Mike got me the flight, thank God. We watched Austin Powers, I said Just vibe on my back, honey.
Raphael let me use his studio. I said to him, I have an idea. Hes kind of conservative. Im really not. I said, Raphael I want you to [laughs] when I explain this to you youre gonna be like, this is f*cked up, like he was. But he had to trust me. So I said, Raphael I want to be painted and basically I want my body to be a canvas for this man, and I want you to be part of the picture. So, Im going to sit on you [laughs] and hes going to paint us so we look like one picture. He was like, Ok I feel what youre saying but this is going to look real sexual. I said, If it looks sexual I wont put it on there because thats not the idea. If it looks sexual then weve done it wrong.
I want it to say this: He is 40-year old man. I am a 19-year old girl. Hes Black. I am white. Hes American. I am English. Hes from Oakland. Im from Devon. Completely different people when you look at it on a piece of paper written down. But actually were one in the same. Two minds that just kind of mix together. Musically, Ive found my same mind. He just had the fingers to make it happen. I dont know how to play bass. Ive found him. So I feel musically and artistically, it combines us as one. So theres this one picture when you take out the CD and its just me and him painted together and it looks like were kind of connected.
Then theres a picture of just my legs with big red heels and it says Love Change because people are scared of change. God, wouldnt it be funny if they werent? Like the color of my hair? They flipped the f*ck out. Over my hair. Theyre wusses. When I was first trying to get signed, some guy told me, Honey, Im not gonna sign a white girl with a Black girls voice. Its too different. Im like, Well firstly, how can you call my voice Black considering you cant see it? Lets stop attaching a race to a sound. God gave us all music. But people are afraid. Lets not be scared no more.