Kathryn Joseph: 'I am obsessed with the truth of everything, even if it's painful'
- Kirstyn Smith
- 29 August 2018
Award-winning singer-songwriter has joined forces with Glasgow's Cryptic for an ambitious live performance of her new album
Josh Armstrong was on an opera writing residency at Aldeburgh Music in Suffolk when he first listened to Kathryn Joseph's debut album Bones You Have Thrown Me and Blood I've Spilled as he wandered along the stony beach.
'I was immediately drawn to Kathryn's unique tone,' he says, 'and her ability to draw me into the depths of her raw and honest beauty, as sublime as the vast crashing sea.'
He knew he wanted to work with her in some way and, on his return, spoke to the artistic director of Cryptic, the Glasgow-based arthouse where Armstrong is associate director. They originally decided to devise a piece of work based on Joseph's debut record, but this changed when she decided to press on with her second record, From When I Wake The Want Is.
What emerged from their meetings was the idea to stage a live performance of this album, an embodied and augmented version of Joseph's musical performances, which are renowned for their raw viscerality. Armstrong realised the potential of the 'experience economy'. As he explains: 'A curated, multi-sensory event provides a new perspective on the musical experience which is enjoyed through other media.' While staged concerts are mostly reserved for large-scale, big-budget tours from high-profile artists, Armstrong decided to work on a small-scale concert. 'I wanted to explore the power and potential in giving Kathryn and her audiences the experience of presenting her live performances in new contexts.'
From When I Wake The Want Is is the kind of poignant autobiographical album that lends itself perfectly to a stage translation. Joseph hones in on themes of passions and secrets hidden away, inscribed onto our bones, and what happens when these etchings wake up and burst through the flesh that was holding them hostage. A work so personal was obviously going to be difficult for Joseph to give over to someone else, but she needn't have worried.