My perfect weekend: Joss Stone, singer
When she's not off on tour or travelling in her VW camper van, the singer Joss Stone, spends weekends at home in Devon with her beloved dogs, friends and family.
Normal weekends aren’t really happening for me at the moment. I have been touring for the past couple of months and that has taken me all over. By the time you read this, I’ll be about to do a gig in São Paulo, Brazil, and then I have Argentina and Chile to tour before things start looking a bit calmer.
When I’m touring I don’t really want downtime. Even if we go to beautiful parts of the world where I’ve always wanted to go, I’d rather wait to experience them properly with my friends or family, not just by myself.
As soon as I have time off, I’ll go straight to my favourite place in the world, my home in Devon. Being there is very grounding, especially because my house is the place where I spent my childhood. I bought it from my parents when they split up, and now I live there with my dogs and Emily, my best friend since we met at school as eight year-olds, and her baby son and boyfriend. My mum still lives down the road as well, and my younger brother Harry, who is 23 and currently training to be a game ranger and wildlife photographer in South Africa, lives with me when he comes home. People come in and out all the time, I like it nice and friendly like that.
The house still looks similar to how it did when I was little, but I’ve been messing about with it for the past couple of years so it is kind of under construction. I keep knocking walls down and building things and making funny shapes, and now I really need to get decorating – I’ve just got to find the time to do it. It is like my big old art project I suppose, a bit mad but I love it.
I don’t think I could ever live in a city, not even Exeter which is my nearest big town. The countryside just makes me feel better. I guess you love wherever your home happens to be, but for me it is the countryside where I grew up, where there is a forest just up the road and the smell is so clean and fresh. Well sometimes it can smell like cowpats, but I just feel much more healthy when I am there. The days go by so fast and I sleep so much better. It is so quiet.
I don’t really work down in Devon because there is no real studio there, so it is purely my escape where I can chill out. If I am going to record songs I usually go somewhere else, but I prefer to make music by working quickly and in a kind of off-the-cuff way so it usually only takes me a couple of weeks to make an album. That means that unless I am touring, I am not far away from my home for very long.
In a perfect weekend down in Devon all my friends would come round to my house, I’d make dinner and then everyone would just drink wine and chat. When I’m home I cook and bake a lot: sometimes I spend entire days doing it when my friends are at work. I’m always making cupcakes and cookies, or bread and muffins, so when everyone comes home they can have something nice and fresh from the oven. Baking is very therapeutic, I find.
My other absolute favourite thing to do at home is spend time with my dogs. At the moment I have four, but if I could, I’d have one of every breed. Mine are a real mix of shapes and sizes but they all get along pretty well: there is a Caucasian Ovcharka called Egor who is a bit of a beast but such a gorgeous boy. Then I’ve got Maggie, who I guess is a mix between a Collie and an Alsatian but I adopted her from Battersea Dogs Home, so I am not quite sure what she is. I also have a little Teacup Poodle called Dusty Springfield and a Rottweiler named Missy Elliot! They are all my babies and I am really, really lucky to have a big group of family and friends to take care of them when I’m not there.
Last year – or maybe the year before – I did some travelling, going around Europe for about four months in my VW camper van, which is called Janice. I took the Rottweiler and the Poodle with me, and it was the real quintessential traveller’s dream. Missy Elliot is great for protection because she can be quite fierce to other people, though she is very soft and sweet really. If ever she thought that I was being threatened, or even when a big guy comes into the room, she is definitely wary. She is not one to be messed with so I like to have her around.
I sometimes tend to stay in my house like a little hermit so my friend Rie will often call me up and make me go out to the cinema, or our lovely local pub. Whether people locally recognise me depends on whether I put make-up on or not: if I actually dress up and look nice then they do know who I am, so I try my best to look as horrible as possible. I usually just wear wellies and hoodies.
Sometimes we’ll go out to Exeter, which is a great town for music. My mum’s bar [Mama Stones] is there, and that is like another little piece of home for me just 25 minutes down the road. Mum doesn’t play any instruments or sing, she just really loves music and helps it happen. Though both of my parents liked music I suppose I got myself interested in it when I was little. I listened to all the records that were playing in the house and also anything else I could get my hands on; I didn’t really need any encouragement to love it.
My family are so important to me and I’m really close with all of them. As well as Harry I have an older brother who is 32, and a sister who is 27. When we were little our weekends used to be family outings to the beach, going in convoy with my friend Lucy’s family for a wonderful day by the sea with a huge barbecue. Croyde and Putsborough were our favourites, they are such beautiful beaches. People always think I live right beside the sea because I’m from Devon, but actually it is about half an hour away; my dad would get really annoyed with us kids on the drive over because we were so loud and irritating, and in the end he started cycling the whole way there every time we went instead! He got the great end of the deal because he’d do the drive back home, when we were all tired and quiet.
I’m so excited about spending Christmas and January at home once this tour has finished. I’m already planning the next; in 2013 I really want to do a world tour, that’s something I’ve always dreamt of. We’re trying to organise it at the moment, especially the gig I want to do in Antarctica – whether it will happen or not I don’t know, but anything is possible!
Joss's favourite things
Sleep and cuddles
Herbal tea or a stiff drink?
Favourite place to be in the world?
My home in Devon
If not a musician, what would you be?
I’d love to have been a vet or a nurse, but it would probably be something creative like a florist or carpenter. I want to make a chair - just one chair - in my lifetime
Twelve duck eggs and an incubator! Sadly the electricity went off without me knowing, so they never hatched. But I thought it was the best gift I had been given, what a lovely thing
Who inspires you?
Melissa Etheridge, who has been so strong for women. But musically, Lauryn Hill
What would be your desert island disc?
A song that I covered on this album called I Got the Blues by Labi Siffre – the original is about 15 minutes long so it would take you longer to get bored of it