Western Australian country duo JoKeria’s sophomore album, Red Country has just been released. Working with Australian Country musician and former member of the Dead Ringer Band Bill Chambers, creating their best album so far. Songwriters drummer Josh Philpot and vocalist/guitarist Kendall Smith have created an album of songs with heartfelt storytelling showcasing the landscape, the people and the culture and interesting facts about places that you may not know about. Red Country is traditional country music at its best and Josh Philpot had a chat with the HiFi Way telling us about the album and how it was made.

You recently release your sophomore album Red Country. How does it feel now that it’s out and finally released?
Great relief. You know it’s been a long process and a lot of work behind the scenes but to finally have it released and to see the reception that we’re currently getting on the album is being really great for us and a humbling experience.

You launched your album at the Red Country Music Festival. How was that experience to launch it in your home town and with people that are part of your community?
It was great to be able to release it in Port Hedland as part of the Red Country Music Festival and to be able to play again in front of family and friends and I’ve let them hear the music first. It’s always great to be able to do that and give back to the community.

How was working with Bill Chambers on this album?
Yeah it was a very rewarding experience. We went over there just as producer and artists but we’ve become good family friends. I mean his knowledge and experience can’t be surpassed. He really made this album great but he also allowed us to have a bit of creative control of what we wanted to see on the album as well. To be able have all three of us to work together to make this album into what it is such a rewarding experience. The knowledge that he passed on to us we are forever is his debt.

Although you’re a duo you recorded this album with the whole band in the studio at the same time. How was that experience?
To go into a professional studio and it was the first time we had worked side by side with session musicians and of course those guys are professionals so it was a bit daunting when you first get there. We are nobodies compared to these people but they definitely make you feel at home and welcome. Just being with them for the first few minutes all those nerves went away. They are just a bunch of great people. What they were able to bring to the album with their own experience was great and allowing them to have a bit of creative control and back and forth brainstorming with everyone really made the album what it is today. So, to work with them was a great experience.

So, from when you first started the album to the finished product is it how you imagined the album to be? Or did it go in a direction you really didn’t know it would and it turned out to be something better than you imagined?
Oh most definitely. Of course you go in there with a sort of a sense of “Oh yeah I know this is how I think it will turn out” but being able to work with everyone that was involved and with Bill and to be able to brainstorm ideas and throw different ideas, change things up, I mean the final product is just something that we couldn’t even dream of at the beginning. We didn’t think it would come out as great as it did. So, the final product is just beyond belief.

Do you think being from Western Australia especially from a small town gives you a different perspective on the sound of your music or country music in general?
We grew up in Robern with a lot of traditional country music being played around the traps. A lot of people like Slim Dusty and all those who used to travel through Robern and doing their shows. So yeah of course that kind of music is very popular where we come from so we inherited that music and that sense of traditional country sound. To be able to put that into our music and just keep it simple but try to tell a good story. To have great storytelling over simple country music is kind of what we are trying to achieve so that we can just get the stories of our area out to the wider audience. Like with everywhere in Australia you’ve always got those little gems and little interesting facts about places that you might’ve ever known unless someone tells you or it comes out in songs.

So, when you do go into that writing process how important is the storytelling narrative for the songs that you write?
I think for us storytelling is the number one. All our songs we want to have a story in behind them especially Kendall (Smith) has Indigenous heritage so in the Indigenous culture storytelling is such a big part of culture. To be able to translate that into music that other people can then be hearing it sort of allows that amalgamation of the Indigenous storytelling with a country music background to it. So, storytelling is definitely one of the big things and we want those songs to always tell a story whatever that song is actually about.

Do you mainly listen to and play country music or do you like to explore other musical genres?
Mainly country but of course we still listen to everything else that around. There’s some real great music out there of other genres. So yeah, I definitely listen to what else is getting played around everywhere even where we are locally but yeah for us country music will always be the genre we want to be playing. That’s where our heart is, you know for country music and the storytelling that the genre provides.

Which artists or bands did you listen to growing up? Were you influenced more by Australian artists or international artists?
I think a mixture of both. I listened to a lot of Australian country artists but I listened to what was getting played internationally. I think there’s definitely a uniqueness between the different country music scenes here in Australia and in Europe and in America too. Its great to listen to what other people are doing and that gives you inspiration to maybe write a song or to just listen. Yeah so growing up I definitely listened to all different country sounds. Even now I still listen to the older stuff like Slim Dusty, Ryan Young, Randy Travis, Dwight Yokam and Hank Williams but also even your newer stuff like Troy Casser-Daly and Keith Urban. So yeah, I listen to a broad range.

How would you describe your style of Country music?
I would definitely say traditional. That’s always been our thing. We just want to play simple country music because we want to emphasis more the song and the lyrics rather than too many fancy things within our music. So definitely traditional country is probably where we sit in today’s music.

Any plans to tour this album around Australia?
Yes! We are planning for the rest of the year to tour around Western Australia both North and South but we are thinking about Tamworth in January next year. We are thinking about staying for a month or so and we might try a little touring around there and maybe even try to get Bill (Chambers) involved and do a little bit with him as well. So yeah touring is being planned.

Interview By Anastasia Lambis

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