Amidst her world travels, Joss Stone has found time to make her next album, which she hopes to finish in November for release in the spring of 2015. Stone tells Billboard that she's "towards the end of making" the set, which she's tentatively titled Water For Your Soul.
"It's different," she says. "It's like a mix between reggae, hip-hop, R&B, a bunch of different elements in there, really, even some Indian influence, maybe a little Irish influence. Trying to mix that together is a bit of a challenge, but I like it. It's really strange, but it's a really cool record."
Stone says he's been working on "loads" of songs for the project, including some she's written with Damian Marley, one of her bandmates in the short-lived all-star project SuperHeavy with Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart and A.R. Rahman. "The actual concept of this record was kind of born when I met (Marley)," Stone explains. "When I worked with him on the SuperHeavy record, he said, 'Joss, you got to make a reggae record.' I said, 'Damian, I'm not Jamaican. I can't do that.' Then I thought, 'Yes I can.' You don't have to be from any place to do any kind of style, so I thought, 'OK, I'm gonna do this.' "
Hip-hop, meanwhile, is "the backbone" of the album, according to Stone. "The bass and the drums are more hip-hop than anything else. I'm not rapping, but the backbone and the weight is hip-hop. There's some early reggae elements that find their way in there, but in general it's hip-hop."
Stone has been trying out some of the new songs during her Total World Tour, a three-year endeavor she began during April with a goal of visiting 204 countries, including many that never, or seldom, host concerts.
"I asked a friend once, 'Has anybody done a world tour?' and he said, 'Yeah, they do them all the time,' " says Stone. "So I said, 'Great, we'll play a gig in every country in the world.' And he said, 'No, Joss, people don't do that. People play world tours, but not every country.' And I said, 'Well, hang on a minute. How come this country is more important than that country,' and the answer, of course, is this country pays. I feel like that's wrong, somehow, and I'm lucky enough to get paid to play, and I can use that money to go and play for people that don't ever get played for and make this a proper world tour."
Stone says the venture is "flying by the seat of its pants" but has already played in remote locales such as Lesotho, South Africa, where she played a show for Sentebale, a charity co-founded by Britain's Prince Harry. She's filming frequently during the trek and says a post-tour documentary is definitely possible; she mostly hopes the endeavor allows her to tell a positive story about humanity.
"I'm interested in all the different cultures and how they work," explains Stone. "And I'm very interested in human beings and how a lot of the time I hear people talking trash about human beings and that we're ruining the planet and are horrible to each other and kill each other all day long. My belief is there are 95 percent beautiful people on the planet, and five percent that make the splash that's negative. I think this (tour) will show I'm right about that.