This Music Made Me

This Music Made Me: Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis

Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis

Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis

Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis met in Africa. Joan Wasser was in Ethiopia at the invitation of Damon Albarn‘s Africa Express, while Lazar Davis was studying traditional African rhythms.

They bonded over pygmy musical patterns in Central Africa, and made an album together, which they will tour in November, including a date at London’s Heaven.

Ahead of the album’s release, Joan and Benjamin mined their record collections to find the albums that have influenced them most for their split-two-ways This Music Made Me


Joan Wasser:

Cass McCombs - A Cass McCombs – A

I hate to do things like this but I’m about to do it – Cass is my generation’s Bob Dylan. There, I did it. I won’t apologize for it.

I could have listed any of his records but this one I consumed like it was god when it came out and it hasn’t lost steam. Rambling perfection. Lyrics actually worth listening to.

Meet Me Here At Dawn is the most romantic song I’ve ever known.


J Dilla - Donuts J Dilla – Donuts

The montage my mind always wants to hear. Beats that remind me what is possible with simplicity.

This record was made in the hospital as he was dying.

The succinctness of the flavours of these song snippets feels like opening 31 doors just for a moment, with a different world I want to spend much more time in. Some faves – Workinonit, People.



Betty Davis - Betty Davis Betty Davis – Betty Davis

No one and I mean no one has more attitude.

Monstrously fierce funk and soul singer and stylist who introduced her husband Miles to Sly and Hendrix.

This woman can sing If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked Up and make you feel it like you didn’t think was possible.




Gillian Welch - Time (The Revelator) Gillian Welch – Time (The Revelator)

2 guitars 2 voices.

When you’re Gillian Welch and David Rawlings that’s all you need to make an astonishingly crushing album. Everything Is Free.





My Bloody Valentine - Loveless My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

I lose my body when I hear this album.

Like VU and Phil Spector, they created a new wall of sound. Like every colour that exists in the world warmly splattered across your mind. Only Shallow.

A riff I’ll always hear when on a cliff looking out across the ocean.




Benjamin Lazar Davis:

The Ba-Benzele Pygmies - Anthology of World Music Africa The Ba-Benzele Pygmies – Anthology of World Music Africa

This album I started listening to 11 years ago when I stole it from a library at school.

I used to listen to it every night before i fell asleep.

When I met Joan we ended up using some of these tracks as specific inspiration for our collaborative project.




Florida Georgia Line - Anything Goes Florida Georgia Line – Anything Goes

Pop Country has alway been an important part of my musical life.

When I was very small, my father Peter Davis used to play the Pop Country station in Saratoga Springs New York 107.7 WGNA while we drove in the car. He would teach me music theory by putting one finger out when ever the ONE chord would happen. Then when I could do that he would add the FOUR chord, then the FIVE and so on until I knew all the chords on WGNA.

These days I’ve been continuing the tradition in Brooklyn by listening to 94.7 NASH FM. On this i discovered the amazing band Florida Georgia Line. The track Dirt is the real standout!


The Notwist - Neon Golden The Notwist – Neon Golden

This album has amazing songs. My friend Christopher Andrew McDonald showed me the record. I love the reed sounds on the record.

A lot of the simple musical parts on the record are so great because they play with their relationship with the vocal line. In The Trashing Days the banjo ostinato repeats and slightly changes to interact in a specific way with the vocals sometimes hitting unison notes with it and sometimes bouncing off it in a beautiful counterpoint.

A lot of the album has parts like this that work in a similar fashion.


Sam Amidon - All Is Well Sam Amidon – All Is Well

This album is made up of all traditional American folk songs. I knew Sam Because our parents are involved in the New England contradance community.

My friend Bridget Kearney showed me this record. I think it makes a bold statement about creativity, songwriting and arranging. Even though these are traditional melodies and lyrics a lot of the songs are re-harmonized, slowed down, phrased differently and vibe-shifted. I think that doing these things to pre-existing material can be equally as forward thinking, creative and inventive as writing ones own material.

Writing one’s own songs will always use elements of pre-existing music as well as new ideas and perspective, the same with Sam’s album All is Well.


Joan As Police Woman - Real Life Joan As Police Woman – Real Life

This is one of the great records. My friend Jeremy Gustin showed it to me soon after we moved to Brooklyn in 2009.

It has some of the greatest songwriting, drumming, bass playing, string playing and singing. After I met Joan (a few years ago) I found out that on Feed The Light she played the bass part, guitar part, vocal part, and the strings, i instantly knew i wanted to collaborate with this great talent. Feed The Light had the stylings of Joseph Arthur on drums and Joan on bass, where as the rest of the record had the amazing talent Ben Perowsky and Rainy Orteca on bass.

Joan and Arthur’s performance on that track is so amazing even though they were playing these instruments that they don’t normally play! What an amazing recording!


Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis’ album Let It Be You is out through Reveal on 21 October 2016. Tour dates and further information can be found at

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This Music Made Me: Joan As Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis