Drunk With Joy are unsigned and do not play live. That is, if you discount their sell-out Arts Council funded 2008-10 tour under the umbrella of Joy Collective (now Joy Experiment) in which they presented the work of fifteen emerging visual, performing, dance and digital artists on a live soundtrack as part of a cross-artform showcase they directed, produced and performed. In line with the socio-critical nature of their output and their fiercely independent attitude as music artists, it is no surprise that The Fly (Britain’s Number 1 Music Monthly) credited Drunk With Joy with ‘reclaiming popular music as a credible art form’.
LAP: It is clear that you don’t consider yourselves just music artists, but why do you refer to No Tragedy as a short film, rather than a music video?
Music videos are mostly a tool to promote music, so just a means to an end. We have always felt very strongly about ensuring that everything we put out stands up in its own right. In the case of No Tragedy, we came up with the idea for the film first. All we had in terms of music then was a basic soundscape and we developed this into a song whilst we were completing the storyboards for the film.
LAP: That must have been quite laborious, taking responsibility for the film and music production?
Yes, for this very reason No Tragedy has been two years in the making. Our problem is that we are interested in so many different things. We get involved with every aspect of our projects and they consequently end up take a long time to complete. When we self-released our first album Sound Living almost ten years ago now, we were totally unprepared for the shocking amount of work that was involved in doing everything ourselves, but we are used to it now. We have come to accept that it is how we do things, it is what keeps things exciting for us.
LAP: Are you deliberately planning to release your second album Sex Is Overrated in 2015, on the 10th anniversary year of the release of your first album?
No, that is a pure coincidence, although it is quite a nice one. We have produced a vast amount of material in ten years, but we have just never got around to releasing it, in the same way that we have not really focused on building an online profile and enter the world of social media until very recently. One of the biggest lessons we have learnt is that no matter how wide your interests, you can only do one thing well at a time. As it happens, Joy Experiment ended up taking most of our time until we actively decided to commit to putting a new album together.
LAP: Does that mean that music will be your main focus again for the time being?
In a way it always has been, we just may not have gone about things the way most other music artists have. But, yes, we have come to realise that, although we love everything else we do, writing music is the only thing we truly feel we NEED to do, as in that it’s the last thing we think about before we go to sleep and the first thing in our minds when we get up in the morning. It feels really good to have come to this conclusion and started acting on it. Having said that, film-making will probably remain a big part of what we do.
LAP: You openly displayed the lyrics for No Tragedy on your website – are you happy to explain what it is all about then?
To a certain extent. Words are an important part of what constitutes Drunk With Joy, so we like to make them accessible. But, every song needs room for personal interpretation and explaining too much beyond what you can hear or read anyway is not a good idea. Let’s say, like most tracks on the new album, No Tragedy deals with one aspect of the struggle and confusion of everyday men and women in their attempt to redefine their relationships to achieve equality, against the backdrop of a society that is still so patriarchal in its fundamental framework and a long way off accommodating equally for the different needs of the sexes.
LAP: Another cheerful little tune by Drunk With Joy then.. Aren’t politics and art supposed to be uncomfortable bedfellows?
Haha, yes, it does all sound very serious and intense like this, but if you listen to the song and watch the video you’ll realise there’s much more to it than that. However, art in all its forms has always been an incredibly powerful tool for social change. It inspires people to think outside the box, to think for themselves, to think creatively and the ability to do so is what distinguishes us human beings from other species. Every single scientific discovery or invention that is responsible for our progress starts with a creative thought. Also, art is so far all that remains of bygone civilisations to testify to their politics, so this strongly suggests the two are intrinsically linked rather than opposed.
LAP: You don’t make a big thing of it, but in addition to working together you are also husband and wife. What’s your secret?
We have got very different ways of working, which means we don’t spend that much time together in the studio. Usually, one of us comes up with an idea, the other then takes it away, develops it and passes it back, and this goes on until we both feel the time is right to finalise and record something. There is obviously a lot of creative tension sometimes when we then end up in the studio together, but we’ve learnt how to deal with that and not let it affect other things. We also still manage to find a way to make each other laugh all the time and that’s probably very important too. Underneath it all, we’re happy little souls really..