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Joss Stone returns to the scene with her seventh studio album, WATER FOR YOUR SOUL.  She is joined this time around by collaborators Nitin Sawney, Damian Marley, and Dennis Bovell, reflecting an intriguing departure from her signature soulful sound. Stone chats with us about wants, needs, and, of course, watering the soul.

What moved you to create music?

You know what I think? I realized when I was…well, when I first started writing this record, how important it was for me to make music. Because before I thought I was doing it just because I, you know, I enjoyed it. It’s fun, it’s a good way to live, and it gives people good feelings, so why not? But then I was traveling and I didn’t make music for a sad few months and I started to get really moody. I don’t know; I didn’t realize! I didn’t realize why. The guy that I was with at the time, he was like, ‘What the hell?’ He eventually just said to me, ‘Oh for God’s sake just like write a song or something!’ And I was like, ‘Oh shit!’ I just realized that it’s not just fun for me it’s actually necessary. It’s turned into something that I need to do in order to stay happy.

You’ve had a lot of really great accomplishments over the years. What mantra do you tell yourself to get out of bed each morning and into the mindset to create?

You know, I just think…I kind of try to remind myself each day how lucky I am, and that I should be grateful for everything that’s going on. And I don’t just mean in my music career; I mean in my life in general. You know, so…my family, and my friends, and my dogs, and, you know, where I live: the fact I’ve got a house, and all these things that make me so very lucky. That makes you get up in the morning.

Definitely. Your new album is titled, “Water for Your Soul.”  What is ‘water for your soul’ and where can the rest of us get in on some?

Well, buy the record and then get in on some. [Laughs.] Okay so…I guess the explanation for that title is everybody has a soul that needs watering. So it’s like, you know, you plant a seed, if you don’t water it, it’s not going to grow. So, you have to personally figure out, what is your water? You know, my water is music and animals, and friends and things. I need to be around, like–completely around love mostly and–I believe that love is water for the soul. But, you know, if we’re going to get more specific, it’s like, well, what is it that you like to do? Do you like to dance? Is that your water? Or is it, you know, cooking? Or is it, writing? Or reading? Or doing mathematical equations every Saturday morning? Whatever it is, it doesn’t matter because it’s your soul. It’s for you. So, you know, I hope that this piece of music–for those that love music–I hope that it becomes a part of their water.

This album is somewhat of a departure for you musically speaking because it contains reggae, and hip-hop, and world. What or who influenced your decision to move in that direction?

You know, I think it’s the world tours especially…encouraged me to involve different sounds, different styles. And you know, it was basically an education, you know, mingling around the world, collaborating with all these different people is my musical education. So I’m finding different instruments and going, ‘Oh my God! I love that! I want to use that!’ You know, why not? And then meeting this guy, Nitin Sawney; he taught me a lot about different sounds too. He’s actually Indian and I’ve never been to India but he’s teaching me about the sound.

You’re putting out this record on your own label, Stone’d Records. How does that feel?

Oh, it’s great! I’m glad to do that, you know? I’m really glad to have the choice. And the fact of the matter is, if I didn’t have that choice, if I wasn’t actually putting it out on my own record label, I wouldn’t be able to make the music that I have made on this album because they would have said, ‘I don’t think so,’ you know? And I’ve come across that before, and it’s not very nice. So now I have a choice, and I feel very proud to have that.

That’s really exciting that you don’t have to limit yourself or anything like that.

Yeah! I think it helps. It makes me a happier human.

I’m also wondering: what would you ask yourself in an interview?

Oh! Do you know what? I was asked a question when I was younger, like, I was asked one question a lot of the time, and I didn’t have an answer. Well, I did have an answer, but it wasn’t really a very good answer. The question was, ’What advice would you give yourself if you met yourself earlier?’ I kind of take that question as, you know, what advice would you give to a young artist basically? That’s what they’re saying, in a roundabout way. So my answer was, I don’t know, I can’t remember what it was. It was, you know, try to be happy or whatever. Try to make the right decisions, and things like this. But it’s not very specific, is it? So it’s not really good advice. So I kind of got to a place now where I know what I would say. I would say, figure out what your ‘want’ is, and then don’t forget it. It’s really quite simple that on this path in this life, sometimes we end up making decisions based on something that [has] nothing to do with our ‘want.’ You know, like, is your ‘want’ to make lots of money? Or is your ‘want’ to make lots of music? Or is your ‘want’ to be very famous? Or is your ‘want’ to have lots of children? Is your ‘want’ to have a big house? Like, what is it? So figure it out. And so far, my ‘want’ has not changed, you know? I just…I want to be free, I want to make lovely music, and, you know, the last thing I want to do is be told what to do because there’s no freedom in that.

How do you maintain your sense of self and stay true to your vision?

I don’t know, kind of just by choosing to be happy. Yeah. I mean, I now know what certain things bring to me, so I know what it’s going to be like if I tour for three months. I know what level of happy I’m going to be if I tour three months opposed to three weeks, you know? So I base my decisions on what I know now. So it’s like, okay, well…if it’s something completely brand new I say, ‘Great! I’m going to try it,’ and if I like it, I’ll continue to do it, if I don’t like it, I will stop doing it. It’s so simple.

Yeah, people definitely complicate these things.

Yeah, man! Big time! Big time.

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photos / Spencer Kohn       story / Dominique Joelle     makeup / Eric Vosberg     hair / Yanni Boyiatzis                styling / Kim Mesches  video / Sonic Platforms
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