The Joy Formidable
UK Tour
August - October 2008
Questionnaire: Steve Bateman

After reading an NME Radar article on The Joy Formidable in early August, what immediately caught my eye in the piece, was the enticing description "Epic, melodic, hand-shandy pop… for fans of Sonic Youth, Arcade Fire, The Breeders and Howling Bells." Listing some of my most cherished bands (in particular the divine Howling Bells) certainly helped the cause. And later that day, I visited TJF's MySpace page and played the clips for Austere, Cradle, The Greatest Light Is The Greatest Shade and While The Flies, before then downloading the songs in full, for free, from Music Glue.

Well, what can I say, other than it was L.O.V.E. at first listen and I have been playing these tracks over and over and over since I got them - so much so, that I now want more ; ) and can't wait to see the trio live in the flesh!

Although the aforementioned groups, as well as Cocteau Twins, Shoegazing, Pixies, The Smashing Pumpkins, '90s Alt.Rock, Grandaddy, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and other disparate influences are clearly present in The Joy Formidable's music. There is something truly unique and special about the swirling, fuzzed-up, infectious and dream-like sound that the collective - Ritzy (vox / guitar), Rhydian (bass / vox) and Justin (drums / vox) - are creating. Especially as there is a strong emphasis placed on the synchronisation of classic pop sensibilities with white noise and lush + flaming vocals, leading one reviewer to zealously proclaim, "This is Dream Pop - the missing link between Mainstream Rock and Indie."

In other words, these songs are nothing short of breathtaking, and will undeniably see the band reach great heights, becoming one of those acts that fans, music critics + Internet bloggers appreciate and relish alike! In fact, last December, one of the group's tracks became Steve Lamacq's Radio 1 'Demo Of The Week' and they also later made the respected tastemaker's BBC 6 Music Rebel Playlist.

Other exposure of note, has included the C4 Skins Live Tour and quirky comedian Harry Hill, even wearing a button badge emblazoned with The Joy Formidable on his TV Show! : ) Their debut 7" single, Austere (the very first song Ritzy and Rhydian ever wrote together), is released on August 18th through Another Music = Another Kitchen, and signed copies can be ordered directly from TJF's MySpace page. Interestingly, the trio are now planning to launch their very own remix label in the near future as well.

Not wanting to waste any time, I e-mailed the London-based band (with members originally from North Wales and Devon) directly, to ask if they would be willing to complete a R*E*P*E*A*T Questionnaire. Then, the next day, I received a message from the very beautiful Ritzy who wrote, "We'd be very happy to fill in a Q&A - if we could do it this week then all the better. From the 18th, things become a little manic!!"

So, I feel fortunate to have got in there at just the right time, not missing the opportunity to interview one of my new favourite bands so early in their career. As when you hear their songs, I'm sure you'll agree, that with such riches, The Joy Formidable will soon be thrust into the spotlight, as they are making music with magic and majesty like nobody else.

Here's to phase one…

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

1. Growing up, was there a song that changed your life or that stirred something deep inside of you?
"My parents had boxes and boxes of 7" singles that they'd collected from their teens, so as a child, I rummaged through these daily - in order - listening to each one (the joys of being an only child I guess). There was hundreds, but I remember having a very definitive moment listening to The Supremes and You Can't Hurry Love. Lots of dancing round the front room to that one. It's a superb track."

2. For music fans who may not yet know much about you, could you give us some background information on your musical pasts / how you all met?
"Rhydian and I have known each other since our school days in North Wales, but became bandmates several years later after separate adventures in Manchester and the USA. We started writing together in the Spring of 2007 and met Justin through a mutual friend a few months later."

3. How would you say your personalities and musical ideas blend together, and what's the story behind your name The Joy Formidable?
"I think it's a unique combination, especially with Rhydian and I being a couple, and all of us having quite eclectic musical tastes and ideas. It's not always the easiest of blends, but its certainly exciting if sometimes a bit fraught. I guess there's the story behind the name."

4. Do you each have a secret talent?

"Nothing too secretive! I like racing cars, Justin can see dead people and Rhyds can do the 100m on his hands."

5. Damon Albarn recently said that he thinks "School children should be forced to learn to read music." Do you agree with this, or do you think creativity should be more about heart over head / passion over technique?

"I think the more you learn early on, the better, so I would definitely encourage reading music in school. It's just about balancing the technical side of things with what makes a truly great musician, which is ultimately good ears and soul."

6. To give us an idea of some of your musical influences and tastes, which songs / artists would you play, if you were to DJ at a special Joy Formidable Club Night?

"We've just started our own Club Nights - Joie de Vivre - in Kilburn, London, so we've had a taste of this. This month featured Maps (So Low, So High), Kings Of Leon (Charmer) and Cocknbullkid (I'm Not Sorry)."

7. Ideally, what would you most like your contribution to music to be?
"A kind of timelessness would be ideal."

8. If you had to choose between having a #1 Album or Single, headlining The Main Stage at a major Festival, or winning an important Award, which one would you go for?
"I don't think anything could beat headlining a Festival, getting up close to the people that have supported you."

9. Has there ever been an artist / band that you've religiously collected everything on, from records to memorabilia to press-cuttings to TV clips etc?
"Radiohead is the closest I've come to being a superfan. I do have almost every early single, all their early footage and a signed drumskin. I had a big crush on Thom Yorke."

10. And has there ever been an artist / band that for years you didn't 'get' - but then all of a sudden, their music just clicked with you?
"Yeah. Patti Smith."

11. If you could ask a musical hero anything, who would it be and what would you ask them?

"I have so many things I'd like to ask Elvis Costello."

12. Every generation seems to pit bands head-to-head, or compares and contrasts musical contemporaries. But from some of the most famous 'battles', who would be your personal winners for each of these - The Beatles vs. The Rolling Stones, The Clash vs. Sex Pistols and Blur vs. Oasis?

"The Beatles, The Clash and probably Oasis - at their peak."

13. Is there a particular musical movement that you hold dear to your heart?

"Britpop. We had one Indie Club in a 20 mile radius in North Wales - it was my retreat."

14. Universal Music has just launched a website called Lost Tunes (, which features hundreds of rarities and hard-to-find tracks. But which relatively unknown song by an artist / band that you like, do you think more people should hear?
"Back to Britpop; I have very fond memories of Ether, who had a song called If You Really Want To Know."

15. Do you think it's a shame how the traditional single is dying out / how The Charts have changed so much?
"I'm all for embracing change."

16. On a similar note, in the hope of reviving CD album sales, Universal Music are now releasing Deluxe Edition CDs at the same time as regular CDs. Do you think this is likely to help, and what is your preferred format - Vinyl, CD or MP3?
"I still prefer a tangible product, so Vinyl or CD for me. Listeners are more song-focused these days, so albums might struggle; it's all about keeping it interesting."

17. Siding with tangible records, I know that The Joy Formidable have designed the sleeve for Austere - is art something that you've always been interested in and can you tell us more about the concept behind the cover?
"That's right, Rhydian is our official band artist. The pictures are beautiful, very dreamy and innocent - they capture that sense of escape and otherworldliness."

18. Is it correct that the unofficial video for Austere was banned, and is there a controversial moment in the history of music that stands out in your mind, e.g. Sex Pistols swearing on Bill Grundy's 'Today' TV Show?
"Yeah, Austere was banned on YouTube for being too pornographic: puritans. A controversial moment that stands out in my mind, is Jarvis Cocker protesting against Michael Jackson's performance at The Brit Awards. One of the funniest television moments - just sheer genius."

19. I read that you "put a lot of emphasis on lyrics and that the melody comes second." But when writing your lyrics, what is the ratio between inside / outside influences on your words, i.e. personal vs. observational?

20. Are you true to your Star Sign?

"Neat: No - Perfectionist: Yes - Bossy: Yes - Plans Ahead: Yes - 3 out of 4."

21. Do you have any hobbies outside of the band?


22. When playing live, what type of experience do you hope that you give to your audience?

"Some adrenaline, some thought and some hope."

23. What have been some of your favourite gigs that you've attended as a fan over the years, and do you have a favourite venue?

"Björk at Manchester Apollo, she was breathtaking. I cried the entire show! I love Liverpool Royal Court, the balcony's so strangely vertical - it's very trippy. Brilliant place."

24. By using The Smiths' How Soon Is Now as an example, Johnny Marr once talked of "the power" a recorded song has, in that the individual components can never be recreated in exactly the same way ever again - by anybody! Is it an exciting prospect for you all, knowing that with each song you record, you could well be committing something magical to tape?
"It's particularly exciting because we record everything ourselves. We know every tiny detail, so it's very personal."

25. Lastly, chips or cream buns?

"Chips - but only with vinegar. Otherwise, cream buns."

A very special thanks to Ritzy + The Joy Formidable, for all of their time and help.

"The greatest light is the greatest shade"

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?