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Sandra Ebert

flowerovlove is ready for world domination (but first she’s got to finish school)

17-year-old flowerovlove has stunned crowds across Europe this summer with her upbeat dream-pop, and now she’s ready to be the world’s biggest star.

12 Sep 2022

It’s been quite the summer holiday for flowerovlove. 

Real name Joyce Cisse, the 17-year-old has brought her catchy, upbeat dream-pop to crowds across Europe as a support act for US emo-popstar Role Model. Even though she’s performed to hundreds one night, and jetted to Paris for a Maison Kitsuné shoot the next, the south Londoner acts like she’s had just a regular school break.

“My summer’s been nice. I got to see my friends a lot which is fun, and I’ve been on tour. The weather’s been nice too, London’s had a heatwave,” she candidly tells me over the phone. She seems surprised that I went to her London gig, “Was you there? Thank you so much!”, and when I referred to one of her Instagram posts, “Oh, you saw that?”

There’s a sense that she still feels like she’s posting and performing to her circle of friends – but the reality is flowerovlove has a huge following of very dedicated fans. She has 101,000 followers on Instagram, 378,781 monthly streams on Spotify, and piano-pop delight ‘Hannah Montana’ has racked up over 180,000 views on YouTube since its release at the start of the summer.

But she says the attention won’t change her when she returns to school this term: “I won’t be a different person, I’ll still be the same,” she affirms. “But it’s just going to be weird. Your routine is moulded into something, then you go back to what you used to do. It’s going to be uncomfortable, but it’s fine.”

Cisse makes songs with her brother and has cited contemporaries Tame Impala and SZA as inspiration, as well as older acts like ‘70s folkster Joni Mitchell and the ‘80s soul singer Glenn Jones. She says there’s no predicting what type of song they’ll create next – “there’s never an intention of what we’re going to make today. We just catch a vibe,” she explains, stressing how organic their creative process is. “I’m not even joking – that’s how it goes down.”

Her openness to explore genres is apparent in her songs; ‘Will We Ever Get This Right’ which was released earlier this year, is a catchy, singalong pop pleaser, while 2021 single, ‘Malibu’ sees Cisse rap over trap beats. Out of her catalogue, ‘Malibu’, stands out as her most brazen effort, revealing her comfort navigating fame and attention: known who I is since out the womb / y’all still on stage with costumes.

Authenticity is a big thing for Cisse. The video for ‘Hannah Montana’ is set in a school and shows her dancing together with classmates and teachers. Her social media posts shift from candid selfies in school corridors to big budget Gucci shoots. She says the balance between international popstar and regular student is just a “genuine thing that’s going on”: “It’s just a fact, it’s the only narrative that makes sense, you know?”

Like many of her Gen Z peers, she’s active on Instagram and TikTok, but she’s resilient to trolls, “I get hate comments but I find it funny,” she shrugs. “I am really secure in myself to know that it’s not personal.” I point out the love she receives on her platforms far outweighs the hate. “Oh yeah, 100%, that’s why [the hate] doesn’t mean anything.”

She’s not one to dwell on the negatives. Late summer single ‘Get With You’ is about “getting with your higher self”, a two-minute fuzzy, heartwarming ride centred around a simple chorus: hey hi, I think I really like you, hey hi, it would be really nice to get with you. The video follows Cisse travelling from London to LA to pursue her dreams. In a promo statement, she said: “The ‘Get With You’ visual is a metaphor for…chasing after the person you want to be, your dreams and your goals.” 

Most of her songs embrace positivity and hope – an energy she brings to her live shows, too. At London’s Kentish Town Forum, she signs love hearts to the audience between songs, hands out posters, brings a teenage fan on stage and gets the crowd to shower them with compliments. It’s a refreshing counterweight to the toxic mess of the world we live in, and I ask her how she manages to stay so upbeat.

Flowerolove stands with her hands on her waist in front of a red brick wall.
Pic cred: Sandra Ebert

“That’s a great question, but I’d say it’s genuinely from making the choice to,” she replies. “I always wanna feel good, so I always make the choice to surround myself with as much love and positivity as possible. If I’m not in the space where I’m getting that I will remove myself.”

flowerovlove will now slow down as Cisse goes back to school, but she confides she will skip class “just for the important days”. She doesn’t know exactly how the rest of the school year will go – “I’ll have to figure it out when I go back.” A new single ‘I Gotta I Gotta’, is coming out this week, and some more tour dates are scheduled throughout autumn. Either way, Cisse’s been repeatedly touted as the next global superstar, and it’s a title she’s ready to assume. 

“The only goal is world domination and nothing else”

“There is pressure, but I believe it too. I don’t think people would say that if they didn’t believe it,” she says. “When I make music, I think it’s great, I get the feeling it will be a hit. Honestly, I’m just here to have fun.”

What is the ultimate objective for flowerovlove, then? It’s an answer she doesn’t need to think about:

“The only goal is world domination and nothing else.”

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