Feature | October 20, 2016
Soundtrack To My Life: Joan As Police Woman + Benjamin Lazar Davis

JAPWBLD Album Cover Hi Res

Self-described “punk rock R&B” artist Joan Wasser, who performs as Joan As Police Woman, is putting out a collaborative album with Cuddle Magic frontman Benjamin Lazar Davis tomorrow called Let It Be You via Reveal Records/BFD/Red Distribution. In preparation for the album, they released a pair of thematically connected videos starring Fred Armisen for their two previously released singles, “Overloaded” and “Broke Me In Two.” We asked them to put together The Soundtrack To Their Lives before the album drops tomorrow.





BLD: Buddy Holly – “Everyday”

I used to listen to this song over and over again when I was a little kid. Maybe that’s why I started playing upright bass when I was 10. What a beautiful melody and spare raw arrangement.


JAPW: The Jackson Five – “ABC”

Little did I know I was hearing one of the greatest pop songs of all time every morning before I went to school. The catchiness of the melody and the ebullient bounciness of the track made me feel like the world was a good place. The jury is out on that one now but as long as I’m listening to this song, then the world is okay for 2minutes and 58 seconds.

Teen Years:

BLD: Elliot Smith – “Say Yes”

I remember when my best friend Colin’s older sister played me this song in their apartment in downtown Saratoga Springs, New York. It also has an amazing melody but also an emotional quality that grabbed me in a way that no music I had heard before had.


JAPW: Bad Brains – “Big Take Over”

This band changed my life. I saw them when I was 14 and I literally had a religious experience. I had never heard anything that loud and that furious and that gloriously and powerfully genius. Honestly, I still haven’t. I listened to their self titled release so many times on cassette, I had to buy a new one; this song had this unique weirdo low register hollow sounding guitar solo (by Dr. Know) that I still wonder how he pulled off.


First Love


BLD: The Band – “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”

I used to listen to this song in my girlfriend’s white mini-van. One time we were really stoned and we ended up driving the van into the woods on a walking path and parallel parking it in between two trees where it was stuck until we got her dad to come help move it. I love the little instrumental bridge between the last two choruses. It’s probably one of my favorite bridges. And of course the way that the kick drum comes in at the beginning.


JAPW: The Smiths – “How Soon Is Now”

Oh to be a high school outsider and listen to this song with your high school outsider boyfriend…. it’s a winning combination. The Smiths have their very own musical vocabulary and parallel universe which is how it feels like to be in love for the first time..  new foreign language; new unchartered universe.
First Break Up


BLD:  Bob Marley – “Send Me That Love”

Well it’s not my first break up but it’s the song I most associate with breaking up. It’s associated with someone i was with and so reminds me of a painful break up whenever I hear it but also in a sweet way. I love how it has this amazing Jamaican vibe but is in 6 so it’s an unusual song. I love the early Bob Marley stuff so much.


JAPW: Billie Holiday – “I’m A Fool To Want You”

I found Billie Holiday early on and wasn’t that convenient really?  Breakups only got more red wine soaked and melodramatic with her voice on tap. Truly, that’s what a breakup needs sometimes… some wallowing. Billie is good for an extended wallow. She should know, she had an unbelievably difficult life.

BLD: Ba-Benzele Pygmies – “Song of rejoicing after returning from a hunt (rhythm djoboko)”

It’s so hard to represent an entire current situation with just one song, but this song is the basis for the song “Broke Me In Two” off Joan and my new record. To me this pygmy music represents the idea of some of the oldest music on earth. It is so pure and makes me feel so calm. It’s rhythms are so unique and complex. To me the rhythms are like a mobile which can be observed from so many different perspectives. I believe these performers had been playing music together their whole lives and were breathing the music out without thinking about anything other then listening to what everybody else was doing. Because if the the downbeat becomes fluid and the pulse can be interpreted in so many different ways.


JAPW: Al Green – “I’m A Ram”

Okay… Al Green has been one of my favorite artists for years but this song has made a huge impact on me for the past couple. The way the instrumental parts fit together is bliss. Al sings so effortlessly, spare and unselfconscious it’s as if he just rolled out of bed. The utter confidence and finesse of the drumming is pure pleasure. It’s everything I long for in a recording. Uncluttered and gloriously grooving. I always think of Al’s records when I am making my own and I will continue to do so.
You can catch these two as well as Cuddle Magic at their album release party at The Good Room in Greenpoint on 10/26. Get tickets here.