Joy Jones: Stop Waiting To Be Discovered

Joy Jones
is one of those artists who have seemingly come from nowhere and taken the soul scene by storm. Her debut project, Godchild, has received critical praise from some of the most influential soul magazines, e-zines and blogs on the internet, and is being hailed by many as one of the standout releases of 2009. So, true to the fairytale, did Joy just appear from nowhere? Of course not. As with all the other independent artists making waves at the moment, Joy’s debut is only the tip of a very large iceberg. To get to this point has taken years of hard work and dedication, but now at last Joy is able to reap some of the benefits.

Starting out in her local church choir, it was a move to London to continue her medical studies that really saw Joy take advantage of her god-given talent. She immersed herself in the underground soul scene here in the UK and eventually hooked up with Daz-I-Kue from Bugz In The Attic. A number of collaborations ensued which led to Joy becoming an honorary Ladybug and developing her skills alongside the legendary break-beat crew.

SoulCulture caught up with Joy and asked her a few questions about her new album, about her time spent in London and her eclectic, genre-defying musical style.

For those people out there who are not familiar with you or your music can you answer the question: Who is Joy Jones?
I am a child of God simply trying to find my way in this world , make the most of what has been given me and laugh as much as possible along the way. I am an artist/scientist based in Los Angeles, but more global and intergalactic than not.

Godchild is your first solo project, but you have been making music for some time. Can you tell us a bit about your previous work?
It’s old. Lol!

You’re originally from Trinidad, and you grew up in LA but you have a very strong connection with London. Can you tell us how this came about and what is it about London that appeals to you so much?

I first started recording music when I lived in London after university. I was doing a graduate program in Medical Anthropology by day and linking with artists like TY, Breis, Malika B and Bugz in the Attic by night. Those were the collaborations that really gave me my footing as an artist. I believe that this is why London is so dear to me, it really feels like the place where I began to come into myself. To have arrive in London knowing nobody and to leave as part of a family of artist and a musical community was the most beautiful experience ever!

How would you say the music scene here in the UK compares to the US?
I have always appreciate the creative risks that artist in the UK take and the fact that European culture is much more supporting of the arts in general than in the US. This is why so many black artist from the US usually find their way over to Europe and in some cases stay. In the US we are so fettered by genre, labels and judgement that it can make it difficult to simply create.

When I was in the UK I met so many people who were able to make a living as an artist that I was astounded. In the US, most artist have to work two jobs to support their art, but I actually saw folks paying their rent and taking care of their families as artist and that was very inspiring to me and really validated art as a profession in my eyes.

There are a vast array of sounds and styles on the album, and you have obviously been inspired by many different places and/or people. One of my favourite tracks is your cover of Nina Simone’s ‘Be My Husband’ (which isn’t on the album) – is Nina one of your influences and who else inspired you to make music?
So glad you like that track. I have been an admirer of Nina for years! Not just for her talent and voice, but because she was so unapologetic for who she was! It is her spirit that I loved and her grit! I love jazz singers and composers (Herbie, Miles, Sarah, Ella, Blossom, Anita, Carmen, Thelonius, Alice… name a few). I love James Brown and Fela (I’m convinced that they were from the same tribe).

lead-image-smI love ’80s pop/rock (Police, Duran Duran, Tears for Fears), but I would say that the form of music that has had the greatest influence on my life would have to be gospel. Both of my grandfathers were preachers, so I have been exposed to gospel music all of my life. It is in gospel music that I was able to see how music can change lives and affect people on the deepest of emotional levels. That is what I aim for as a musical artist, to penetrate and deeply touch my listeners.

As well as being a musician you are also a scientist. How do the two careers interact and how does your scientific background impact on your music?
I am very interested in the overlap between art and science and that’s what has been keeping me up lately. I really feel as if art and science are the same thing, but perhaps just on opposite sides of the same creative spectrum, you know? The human body is pure art, down to the cellular level. Music is pure science down to the note and tone. I have realized that I am as much right brain as I am left brain and that for me to be happy I have to constantly stimulate both.

As a child of a West Indian family, I was encouraged to only focus on my education and to look at art as a hobby. Man, that messed me up for years because I felt so crazy and torn between the two worlds. However, now as an adult, I realize that I can create a space for myself to just be who I am. That has been uber-liberating for me. It’s funny, once I made that decision everyone around me was like, ok, go with it. I guess I just needed to get out of my own way.

I know that you are interested in continuing your education, specifically studying psychiatry. Music is often seen as a full-time career, how do you find balancing the two?
Prayer. (smiles) I am not sure what the end of my journey will look like but I know that it is divinely choreographed. I am doing my best to just live in the moment and trust that my gifts will make way for me, you know? In terms of time, the beauty of being an independent artist is that you can put out what you want whenever you want and you create your own time line. So I guess I’ll just have to see. The schooling is the most difficult part to juggle at the moment, but so far, so good.

The independent music scene is often scene as a harsh, difficult and sometimes hostile environment. What is your experience and what would you say to those wishing to pursue a career in music?
My piece of advice is to get out of your own way! If you decide that this is what you want to do then start by investing in yourself. That is the biggest part. Stop waiting to be discovered. Discover yourself! If you think that you are the business, you have a better chance of convincing others that you are as well! It is no secret that this is a tough industry and a daily hustle, but when you decide to do you and trust that things will always work out for your good, it is much easier to navigate.

You have set up your own label, Love Jones Recording, to release this project. Why did you decide to do this rather than releasing through a third party?
Creative control! Godchild was a joint release with Future Soul Records and it has been a fabulous learning experience. Being that it was our first release we thought that this would be the best way to go, however I think that we are ready to properly launch out on our own and I am super excited about the possibilities!

Do you have a personal favourite on the album, or one particular song that has a special place in your heart?
Not really, each song represents an aspect of who I am. Each aspect is as relevant as the next, so I love them all. I feel very proud of this album for that reason.

jonesjones2I see you have fully embraced the internet when it comes to promotion. You are a regular twitter-er, you have your own blog, and you have used the ever-growing blogosphere to spread the word about your music, how important do you think the internet and social media are to an up and coming artist’s success?
It is what fills the gap between independent artist and mainstream artist. It is vital in terms of being able to share your message and establish your voice on a global level. The internet has taught me just how small this planet is and how few degrees of separation divide us. I do think that I am a little it addicted to Twitter and Facebook. Like, I might need an intervention or something! Smiles.

Your album has been getting fantastic reviews from the music press and your album is being touted by many as one of the best of 2009. You have also been short-listed for’s ‘New Artist Of The Year’ award. Did you think that the album would be such a critical success?
I really prayed that it would. I have to say that I was most concerned that people wouldn’t get it since I made a concerted effort not to dumb down my music in any way, but the people really got it and have been able to see and hear some of the subtleties of the album as well. That has been incredible for me. My main hope with this album was to be able to speak my mind and establish myself in the musical arena. I am so humbled by all of the great response to this project and ultimately it just confirms that if you trust God and step out on faith with your dreams firmly in hand, that He will take care of the rest. It is the most beautiful gift!

Obviously you are currently busy promoting the album and doing live shows but what does the future hold for Joy Jones?
Love. Laughter. Growth. Music. Bravery. Patience. Thinking. Creativity and lots of Happiness!

Finally, and this is a question I have a very personal interest in, are you planning on coming back to the UK to do any shows in support of Godchild?
Sure! As soon as you send me a ticket, I’m on my way! Lol! I kid. I am looking to come out either the end of this year or early next year. You will be among the first to know.

Find out more about Joy Jones at | Twitter | Myspace.

By SoulUK

RELATED: Joy Jones’ music video for “Over” // Joy Jones – “Be My Husband” (Nina Simone cover)

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