Joe Wilkes – Looking for the grave of Garcia Lorca

Joe WilkesThere is a parallel universe to ours where Lady Gaga is a pub singer and Simon Cowell is a used car salesmen.

In that same universe London singer/songwriter Joe Wilkes is a superstar, his records sell by the million and he owns a ranch in Texas complete with runway and private jet.

Meanwhile in this dimension (every now and then), Joe puts out a collection of new songs, no big fanfares, or conical bra’s, just real music, sung and played by a real musician.

We got the rundown from Joe on the his latest CD, ‘Looking for the Grave of Garcia Lorca‘, the follow up to the excellent ‘Here on this Frontline‘, and a strikingly beautiful set of songs.

So who is Garcia Lorca?

He was a Spanish artist, who mainly wrote plays and poetry. He was killed during the Spanish civil war in 1936, since his body was never officially found he become a symbol of rememberence for the many thousands of people who ‘disappeared’ in the War.

I thought it was an interesting metaphor because as it says in the lyrics ‘You can’t burn and bury the truth with earth and mud. It will come out in the rain’.

Where was the record made?
It was one of the last things to be done at Escapade Studios in Greenwich, it was a converted cowshed, but there was some great records made there. They have demolished it now!

You are a great storyteller, who is an inspiration to you musically and lyrically?
There are so many people who influenced me as a musician but Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, John Martyn, Nick Drake, David Graham, Bert Jansch and Joni Mitchell are a few that spring to mind readily.

The record has some great string arrangements on it.
Thanks! Am really happy with how it came out.. A good friend of mine Antoine Reininger has done all the string arrangements on all of my records and we had some amazing musicians who had just graduated from Trinity, (the Greenwich music college) to play on it.

We always recorded at night, I think that helped with the atmosphere too.

Do you think living in France was good for your songwriting?
The band I was in, we used to go and do a tour every year in France and one year we went and I just sorted of stayed there. I was playing in a band in Paris (Dom Branche) and I think the atmosphere of the place definitely seeped in to my songwriting.

Since being back in the UK Joe continues to play across London and beyond, he makes regular trips to Spain after forging a friendship with Luis de Benito, Spain’s answer to John Peel. He is a regular on TV and Radio over there and since ‘Lorca’ he has become something of a underground cult folk hero.

‘It’s nice to go out there and do all those things’, he adds, but you get the impression feeling the warmth from the spotlight isn’t Joe’s motivation for being a musician, more an occupational hazard.

Who are you listening to at the moment?

Have a listen to Benjamin Folk Thomas, (and that is his real name) he’s this 22yr old guy, his stuff is quite Americana(y), I’ve done some gigs with and he is amazing.. Adam Beattie and SongDog are really good too…

Joe is happy to be away from major label pressure and releases his music with Spitz, the record label of the old Spitz club in East London. They allow him the freedom to do things at his own pace and the music sounds all the better for it. If you are are a fan of great folky storytelling songs give it a listen.

Look out for a UK tour from Joe later in the year.

Get more info from his website and download a song from Looking for the Grave of Garcia Lorca on our free sampler (below).

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