Dutch South-African musician Joya Mooi is a breath of fresh. Her celestial voice and knack for earworm melodies have ultimately propelled her as one of the Netherland’s most beloved R&B and Soul artists. Joya Mooi made international waves in 2019 upon the release of her breakout single “Been Here” and has continuously left audiences in awe with songs such “More Than Ever” and “Good Girl” to name a few.
Towards the tail-end of 2020, Joya Mooi shared her critically-acclaimed EP Blossom Carefully which garnered worldwide support from fans alike. The 6-song portrait explores ideas of freedom, love, and self-growth amongst other themes. She kicked 2021 off with the release of “Remember,” a nostalgic record accompanied by mellow visuals. Following that is her latest single aptly titled “My Favourite”— an upbeat offering that celebrates friendship and good times.
We had the opportunity to chat with Joya Mooi about her musical upbringing, 2020 EP Blossom Carefully, new music, and more! Read below.
Did you grow up surrounded by music? How did you discover your talent for songwriting and develop your expressive vocals?
Yeah, basically my parents were huge Jazz fans and my father played the trumpet. For me, it felt very logical to pick an instrument so when I was 8 or 9, I started playing the saxophone. Later, I started vocal lessons so music was all around, only Jazz though! My sister really loved to sing as well so I think that triggered something in me. As a kid, I was really shy but I really loved writing short stories so I was like maybe I can develop them into songs. Luckily, I grew out of it and started singing!
What are your musical inspirations?
I used to really love Ella Fitzgerald. I also really love Kelela! John Coltraine, mostly Jazz, R&B, Soul music.
How does your South African background inform your music?
Yeah definitely! South African Jazz is one of the best Jazz subgenres there is. It really sounds like home to me so it definitely inspires me and I still listen to a lot of cool South African acts currently.
It’s been almost a year since the release of your EP, Blossom Carefully. What was your favorite memory from working on the project?
I just really liked the creative process of it. I mostly made it in my house, in my living room, because I wrote it at the start of the Dutch lockdown. It felt very pure and I took the time to finish all of the songs. Even listening back to it, I don’t think I’ve ever taken the time to process and go back to productions because I think it took a year to finish it. I’m really proud of it!
Tell us a bit about your new single, “My Favourite.” What is the story behind the song and what was the creative process like?
It’s also fun because it’s such a celebration of my friends and my friendships and the people around me. I hardly write about them, or I hardly write about love really, so it’s nice to share with the world who uplifts me day-to-day.
My favorite part about writing songs is that I just don’t have to think about it. It comes quite naturally, I think that’s my favorite part of it. Sometimes it feels like you’re having a really nice conversation with yourself.
What does music mean to you and what changes do you hope to bring to the world with your work?
It’s just everything. It’s everything for me! I grew up as a Brown kid in a very white neighborhood, and music always felt like I belonged at a place so it goes very deep for me. I just want to be an independent artist that creates what I want to create. I think in this industry, you can be influenced by a lot of people and the biggest challenge is remaining true to self and making the music I really want to make.
For everyone, I want for people to feel heard, feel loved, feel uplifted. I think those are the three main things that I want anyone to feel. That you are seen and that your story matters, I think we all have one to tell. I think that’s the main thing I want to share with people.
Is there anything else on the way? What’s next for you and how do you see yourself grow as an artist in the next five years?
I’m really excited about all the new music coming out. I think the new songs are a bit similar to Blossom Carefully but I’m also exploring new genres. Just working with my band a lot on the music so it’s not all electronic production and I’m also producing a bit on the new project so it’s a bit exciting.
If you enjoyed our interview with Joya Mooi, check out our chat with Annalise Azadian!