Meet Joy Crookes – The Singer/Songwriter Guaranteed To Steal Your Heart

Joy Crookes, the 20-year-old singer-songwriter from South London, is undoubtedly one of the most exciting artists to emerge in the music scene this year. Her voice is gentle, yet husky, her music is as elegant as a classic jazz track.

While, at 20, Joy has impressed many with her unapologetic songwriting that is beyond her years and yet, one of her main goals before turning 21, she told Miss Vogue, is “to become a more confident and eloquent writer – going from lyricist to poet.”

Many have compared her to legendary artists, Amy Winehouse and Lauryn Hill. Though, Joy is wary of such comparisons, explaining, “it’s the highest compliment to be compared to them both, but I think it’s dangerous territory – particularly for female artists because we’re so easily boxed. I just want to do my own thing.”

From Bangladeshi and Irish descent, Joy’s dual identity is at the centre of her artistry and what drives both her music and visuals.

“It just makes me, doesn’t it? My dual identity reflects more about me as an artist. I grew up with so many different cultures and influences around me, but it’s not as if I play the fiddle and sitar in my songs. Irish people have a real way with words, we have incredible writers like Oscar Wilde, Paddy Kavanagh, Van Morrison. Then Bangladeshi culture is different – the way we style our hair, the way we present ourselves, our mannerisms. Sure, it would be easy for me to do lots of Indian scales – they do after all, influence jazz – but I’m more about my lyrics.”

The lyrics are unapologetic and as she describes, “mad honest”. “It’s a personal challenge – I don’t do it for anyone but myself. I put a lot of pressure on myself to reveal so much. But there are some songs that reveal things to me. For example, I wrote “Don’t Let Me Down” in 10 minutes. I had the chorus in my head and the verses spilled out and then I understood things about my relationship with my ex that I didn’t when we were together,” she explained.

Though her lyrics are emotive and deep, they are also brilliantly cheeky, capturing the British wit that helped Lily Allen make her name. A powerful example being a line in “Power”, where she sings: “You’re a man on a mission, but you seem to forget, you came here through a woman – show some fucking respect.” Genius.

Joy dares to bare her most vulnerable self in her latest single, “Since I Left You”. She revealed, “I had broken up with someone who I was with for the majority of my teens. A week after, I shot off to Bangladesh for the first time in six years, and I was extremely hurt and in a place that made me feel vulnerable, because it’s home – where my mum and ancestors are from. The video is actually based off a genuine photo that was taken in my great grandma’s village in Bangladesh – the washing line, my hair, which is a nod to my culture, how my brother was sitting. My mum walked onto set and started crying. My great grandfather is actually buried next to where the photo was taken.”

The video is simple, haunting and as a result, perfect – showing her authority as an artist and the power of her gentle vocals. But the real showstopper is her songwriting. She explained, “there’s a lyric, ‘freedom don’t come for free, I guess it cost you and me’. Although the song is inspired by a breakup, it’s also about leaving someone which is applicable to other situations. It relates to my own family’s history with war – having to part ways or lose someone. Bangladesh has been independent for about 49 years, so a lot of my family has lost someone. Wives can live freely from war, but they’ve lost someone in exchange.”

She continues to impress with lyrics with double meanings throughout her EP, Reminiscence. “There’s a song called “London Mine”, with the lyrics: ‘hopeless, roaming around in the moment, the streets that are tailored to no one, but that’s what makes London mine’, which encompasses the whole song. The song celebrates the invisible people and how London belongs to no one but everyone. It’s a celebration of immigrants who make up this country and it was the Windrush scandal that prompted it. The lyric that resonates and I identify with the most though, is ‘spending nights in lonely castles where I learned to sing my cries’. I started writing songs when I was sad at home. I was 12 and I learned to pick up the guitar and instead of sitting in my bed crying, I learned to sing my cries.”

That story alone is enough to convince you of Joy’s charm, making it impossible not to fall in love with her music, as an artist and person. The one problem? Her EP is too short. We’re already eager to see what’s next.


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