London-based singer Joy Crookes has been on our radar for some time both for her multi-faceted sound and her thought-provoking lyrics. One scroll through her Instagram and you’ll see she’s a total babe, too. Born in South London to a Bengali mother and an Irish father, Joy cites music as a form of survival whilst growing up. Whether it be the familiar sound of Frank Sinatra, the soothing croon of Marvin Gaye, or the hypnotic hum of Massive Attack, Joy has been influenced by both the sonic diet she grew up on and the area she grew up in: South London. Fronting a unique and endearing trip-hop-meets-soul infused sound, lyrically Joy takes inspiration from her own experiences and the people who surround her. It was in fact Joy’s history teacher in school who taught her about the misuse of power that inspired her to write songs from the perspective of being a woman of colour and how it’s shaped her life. From political commentary to emotional family moments, and tender issues with mental health – Joy’s observations of the world come from a place of extreme maturity for someone who was signed at 15 years of age and is just 19 now.
If you ask Joy to describe herself, she’ll tell you she’s a “bit of an existentialist”. It’s no surprise she takes cues from some of the female greats. Lauryn Hill, Amy Winehouse and Grace Jones (not directly for their music, but for their authenticity) and women like Frida Kahlo and Barbara Kruger for their personal and thought-provoking work. Not dissimilarly, Joy’s own tracks give listeners food for thought. In particular the don’t-mess-with-me lyrics of “Power” in which Joy spits poignant lines like “you’re a man on a mission, but you seem to forget, you came here through a woman – show some fucking respect” and “melanin is not your enemy”. The self-directed video for “Power” features Joy’s mum and grandmother, alongside some of her closest friends too, acting as both an ode to the powerful women in her life and a reminder of the issues faced by women and women of colour around the world. One listen and you’ll have Joy’s mantra through your head all day: “Can’t take my power, you got nothing on me”.