2012 Artist Survey: The Joy Formidable
Ritzy Bryan Reflects on the Last Year
Jan 21, 2013
For Under the Radar's 10th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2012.
Pick up the print version of the Best of 2012 issue to read responses from the following artists: Alt-J, Fred Armisen, Bear in Heaven, Camera Obscura, Chad Valley, Charli XCX, Choir of Young Believers, Clinic, CSS, Dan Deacon, Desaparecidos, Django Django, Efterklang, Egyptian Hip Hop, El Perro Del Mar, Grimes, Halls, Richard Hawley, Hercules and Love Affair, Ladytron, Liars, Lord Huron, Lower Dens, Mount Eerie, My Morning Jacket, The Mynabirds, The New Pornographers, of Montreal, Peaking Lights, Porcelain Raft, Laetitia Sadier, Tame Impala, and Tegan and Sara.
Then download the digital version of the Best of 2012 issue to read all those surveys, as well as bonus responses from the following artists: !!!, Clare and the Reasons, Codeine, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr., Esben and the Witch, The Fresh & Onlys, Get People, Islands, Kwes, Lost in the Trees, NZCA/LINES, OFF!, Plants and Animals, Still Corners, Violens, Xiu Xiu, Young Dreams, and Zambri.
We are also posting additional web-exclusive artist survey interviews to the website. Here are responses from Ritzy Bryan of The Joy Formidable.
Top 10 Albums of 2012
In no order of preference:
The Future of the Left: The Plot Against Common Sense
Pulled Apart by Horses: Tough Love
Passion Pit: Gossamer
Leonard Cohen: Old Ideas
Plants & Animals: The End of That
The Invisible: Rispah
Maps And Atlases: Beware and Be Grateful
The Maccabees: Given to the Wild
What was the highlight of 2012 for either you personally or for the band?
The entire period of making the new album, from its conception in Portland, Maine that began in January, through to mixing and finishing with Andy Wallace in April. It was a beautiful and inspiring four months.
What was the low point of 2012 for you?
Losing our biggest fan and follower, my brilliant grandfather, Mr. Eric Fieldhouse.
What are your hopes and plans for 2013?
We'll release the album in mid-January and then enjoy a busy touring schedule. We're planning to cover a lot of ground, visit places we've never been before.
To what extent did the poor world economy affect your ability to make a reasonable living as an artist in 2012?
Recession aside, I don't think any of us got into music for the financial rewards. Making money as an artist has become trickier and trickier, irrespective of what's going on with the world economy. We manage, we love it, we're lucky to wake up to something we enjoy every day. We want people to still value good music, to buy records—it's crucial that people still believe in the artistic endeavor and are willing to pay for it, so we'll keep on doing what we do and hopefully keep that message alive.
What are your thoughts on the 2012 U.S. presidential election?
I'm very glad that Obama got another term. It's encouraging that people saw the bigger picture and moved away from selfishness, this trend of just thinking about yourself. I hope it encourages compassion, I hope he will be brave and make some strong environmental steps. He's a charismatic leader—he makes you believe and you need optimism to move towards a better future.
Steve Albini criticized Amanda Palmer for recruiting musicians to play in her backing band for free. Was he right to do this and was Palmer right to change her mind and pay her musicians?
You tour, you get paid, you split the money. That's the way it should be. If bands and musicians are constantly willing to do things for free, it damages the worth of the artist.
What pop culture phenomenon from 2012 would you most like to erase from your memory?
The closing ceremony of the Olympic Games is something I could happily forget, especially after what was an incredibly vibrant and successful games. What a downer.
Were you affected by Hurricane Sandy? Do you think that climate change was partly responsible for the hurricane?
We weren't directly affected but we felt dreadful after watching the coverage. We were worried about our friends on the East Coast and some people have lost everything. It's really upsetting. You can't say for certain that Sandy was a direct result of climate change, but we shouldn't dismiss issues like global warming. We can all make positive lifestyle choices. Beyond government, the difference that we the people can make is tremendous, and it's important that we realize that. I think the legislation needs to be radical, strong global pressure on big businesses and industry and strongly engaging the population to make informed decisions.
Tell us about the most memorable fan encounter you had this year.
I really can't. It would be like kissing and telling. It involved a doily, some pretty great sewing, and a dropping of the trousers.
What were some of the rejected names for your band?
None. We were writing without a name, and we felt no pressure to force one. The phrase was spawned in the same way as a lyric or a song title, but it was obvious straightaway that it said a lot about the band that we were becoming.
Tell us about your first kiss.
You're asking me to kiss and tell again! OK, well, I'm 14 years old, quite the tomboy, he smells OK, vaguely of spearmint, the result of peer pressure (don't succumb to peer pressure, kids!). He was a friend, we had a snog, and then we went back to kicking the shit out of each other on the football field. Romantic.
Would you survive a zombie apocalypse? Explain.
Possibly. Zombies—well, zombie movies—they really piss me off. I'd have the wrath for survival at least.
What do you most miss about childhood?
Homemade apple pie on a Friday.
What is your dad's favorite band? What is your mom's?
Based on how many bootleg concerts my dad has by this artist, I'd hazard a guess that it's Bob Dylan. My mum absolutely loves John Martyn and Marvin Gaye.
What, in your opinion, is the most pressing worldwide political or social issue?
I think overpopulation is up there, and it's worrying because nobody wants to talk about it. Everybody's too scared of infringing on that basic human right to reproduce. But what are we going to do about the rate of growth? Is it even worth talking about other world issues without questioning the population and the impact that that alone has on our planet?