Joy Crookes: Turning Bad Choices into Summer Jams
Vanessa Dos Santos
31 May 2017
It’s been a minute since Joy Crookes has officially released a single. Her third official track ‘Bad Feeling’ is proving to cement her place and sound among the new wave of British soul. Hailing from south London, one could easily dismiss her as a young Amy Winehouse circa the Frank album, but Joy finds inspiration from her mixed family and surroundings.
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Growing up in Elephant and Castle, she remembers a time when other kids wouldn’t go to her house because they were not allowed to step foot in the area. Those perceptions are fast changing with the spike in interest and redevelopment with the growth of young artists and students coming in. Despite that, Joy has always had an affinity to the neighbourhood: “I still adore that area, and I still live there”. Her home has proved to be backdrop of her creative output.
Joy is a product of immigration. Her father is from north Dublin, Ireland and her mother is from Dhaka, Bangladesh. They came to London with little in their pockets but with huge ambition, which has been passed onto her: “Both my parents have hustle swag”. As a kid she felt that she was more ambitious than what was expected from anyone raised in the area. Joy explained that kids were often made to feel like the box they had been placed in was the one they would stay in.
“For Joy, writing was always therapeutic, turning moments of confrontation, bad choices and unrequited love into playful lyrics”
Joy’s musical career started out via Youtube. Mixed with covers, and original songs, at 15, she received attention from her management when she uploaded a video covering Ray Charles’ ‘Hit the Road Jack’, with her friend, Paolo. I asked her whether or not it is important for artists to be represented with the advent of Youtube, Soundcloud and Instagram; “It’s important to have artistic freedom but like every job in artistic industries, sometimes you need financial backing to accomplish things such as music videos and getting your songs produced.” For Joy, writing was always therapeutic, turning moments of confrontation, bad choices and unrequited love into playful lyrics that “would do the job for me”.
The 18-year-old singer-songwriter remembers growing up with a vast influence of music and culture. From her mum’s side she was introduced to Bollywood artists like Kishore Kumar, while her dad was listening to Van Morrison and Sinead O’Connor. One band Joy references as having an impact on her musically is the British group Massive Attack and how they were able to merge genres. You can hear the similarities of Massive Attack’s 90s singles ‘Sly’ and ‘Unfinished Sympathy’ to her last single ‘Sinatra’, which gave us a neo trip hop track.
‘Bad Feeling’ is her most upbeat single to date and credits some of that to Latino music Joy was exposed to by the Latin Quarter, “I was fascinated by how they use percussion to make a song feel fuller and make you move more”. While tracks, ‘Sinatra’ and ‘New Manhattan’ are moody and majestic with the help of cinematic orchestras; ‘Bad Feeling’ shows the maturing of her sound and what’s to come. The concept came from taking Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ and “switching it to feeling bad” by applying her own spin to it. Inspired by rap flows, she wanted to play with creating faster rhythms and transitioning from speaking to singing, offering us a bloc party jam for the summer.
In recent years British soul has permeated the Top 40 chart, and when asked if she keeps tabs on other artists such as Jorja Smith or Etta Bond, she replied “I think it’s important to focus on your own journey…comparing yourself to others just creates unnecessary feelings of jealousy and self doubt.” Joy has been cooking up music and visuals, and with the release of her EP entitled Influence, she could be joining the ranks. “Everyone gets their moment in their own time and it’s important to focus on that”. This summer could be Joy’s moment and we are staying tuned in.