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Josie Fields (pictured) has landed an album deal with Gallo, the start of her journey as an independent artist, and it’s wonderful!
The album is called Sibongile which is the name given to her by the farm workers on her parents’ farm in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
The album opens with the ironic Everything is as it Should Be. It is the perfect opening track because Fields generally plays it acoustically when performing live. But on the album it is crystal clear and captures the essence of the song.
For the album she used her long- time producer, Kevin Leicher. They have that chemistry which is so important between artist and producer. Zola and Kaybee had it, Ntando and Robbie Malinga have it, Spikiri and Kabelo had it, Matthew Fink and Shadowclub have it.
“The idea of an acoustic album came from fan requests. All three of my albums are recorded with a full band and are highly produced,” she explained. “But when it is just Kevin and I performing live, the music is stripped down and that’s what they want. There are some shakers on the album and a couple of layers of guitar, but it’s pretty much going to the bedroom which is where the songs were born.”
Track two, Hey Man, is another favourite. This rendition somehow is reminiscent of Alice in Chains’ famous track… with Chris Cornell. It’s like when grunge turns acoustic. The song’s lyrics are as cynical and defiant as grunge was: My voice wasn’t pop and my lyrics were mean. They were written when she was 16, when she was told that her unusual voice and insights into life would not translate into being the next Britney Spears.
The reality, however, is that Fields is unique, uncompromising and gifted, which is why her legions of fans love her.
“I find my lyrics become more pertinent as they age. I write in ignorance and then they become meaningful. The lyrics for Hey Man have the same relevance except I have changed and I know how to say ‘no’. I have a strange fan base which ranges from six to 60 years old.”
The cover of the album reflects a free and happy Fields. The picture is of her in some bushes with the skyline of Joburg in the back-ground. It was taken in the Melville Koppies where she lives.
“The shoot was done on my doorstep. The koppies have a great view of the city and I am a Jozi girl. Also, after three albums I am finally free of a record company which is holding me back. That boat’s sailed. I will never sing to a label again. Having said that, signing to Gallo was what I needed at the time.”
Through this learning curve, she believes she can do things independently and make it financially viable.
“The leave has also made me grow up because now I have to learn about the admin side of the industry. Things always seem impossible until they are done.”
Last year she took a sojourn and went to work on yachts in Cannes, France: “The reason I called the album after my Zulu name is because after working on private yachts and all that time away from home, I realised how magical life is here. I came back full of energy and am grateful for the life I live here. I get to wake up each day and decide what I want to do. It was a fantastic experience, one I don’t regret.
“I was doing housekeeping on boats which was easy, except when the owners were around and then there was no time off. I am totally domesticated after that experience.”
Her plan with this album is to showcase the new sound. To this end she will perform on Thursday at Michael Mount Waldorf School in Bryanston: “I matriculated there and have not played the auditorium since then.”