In Conversation With Joyia, Toronto’s Multi-Talented Musician
Unapologetic, honest, and empowering people through her music. Joyia is a multitalented singer-songwriter, producer, and DJ coming out of Toronto, Canada. She began producing electronic music and DJing at the early age of 16 then went on to DJ her first show at once legendary club The Guvernment at 18. Learning the fundamental elements of production in her teens, Joyia has since refined her musical style and evolved her sound, returning to her early soul, jazz, and R&B influences.
Continuously drawing influences from her environment, Joyia is stepping into a new direction with her music. Her musical journey began in the church choir and to no surprise, religion is just one of the many themes on her forthcoming EP Baptism, slated for release later this year. This year, Joyia is returning to her roots of old R&B, soul, jazz, and bossa nova that she loved as a young girl blended with her later technical expertise in electronic music.
We spoke to Joyia about her latest single “Ritual,” ideas about love, and advice she would give to her younger self amongst other things. Check out the full conversation below.
Obviously, you’re from Toronto, how has that directly or indirectly shaped you as a person and artist?
I grew up just outside of Toronto so growing up in the suburbs gave me time and space to explore myself as a musician. The schools I went to were very far away from everyone else so it was a lot of me just at home. Going to university in Toronto opened my eyes to all the genres that were making their way around the city. It’s a huge R&B city but there are so many little pockets and cultures. Working with a lot of different collaborators brought so much to the plate. Maybe there’s some hip-hop, jazz, soul, and even the EDM pocket that I was in for a while.
When did you realize that music is the career you’d like to pursue?
It was from a very young age. I joined the church choir around six, but my family has videos of me just going around the house singing since super young. In the choir, I loved that feeling of performing. When I started music lessons around ten, I knew I was going to be a singer. The feeling was always there in the pit of my stomach that it was going to be what I was doing. When I started songwriting around thirteen, I saw music as a means of using my voice. Sometimes it’s easy for me to express myself in conversation, but my writing allowed me to properly express myself.
What emotions do you wish to make people experience with your music?
Everything. To me, music has always been one of those things where I feel free to feel any emotion that I like. Going through everyday life, I feel like sometimes we can’t show all of our anger or sadness because we have to be different versions of ourselves in different settings. I think when we listen to music, what we experience is freedom because it’s just you and the music. I reflect that in my music; sometimes I’m happy, sometimes I’m sad. I hope that when people listen to my music, I hope they feel what they need to feel in that moment.
Last year, you released your Genesis EP—do you recall what putting that out amid the global pandemic was like?
I got super lucky and released it at the end of January right before the pandemic began. I was able to call in a bunch of favors and people were super kind in lending me a hand. It was a very pivotal moment for me because up until then, I had released some collaborative projects and my very first projects. Genesis was the first EP where I took some time to explore my identity. Releasing that was a real trip because it was the first project that I listened to and was like “wow, this is me!” Every single song explains who I am in a different format and I had never felt like that before.
You have this new called “Ritual” coming out, what’s the inspiration behind that record?
I’ve been quarantined with my parents and I’m honestly so fortunate because they are the most amazing people in my life. I was sitting down thinking that my family show and I love to each other in the littlest ways. The people we care the most about, we show them love in the smallest ways. When you actually love someone, it almost becomes ritualistic. I thought about all the different ways we love each other and just wrote about it. The song illuminated a side of love that I feel a lot of us don’t think about.
Instead of doing a video, you asked couples about their love stories—what lesson were you able to learn through their stories?
It was more of a reminder than a lesson. It made me very fulfilled to listen to all their stories because I could see love in their physical form coming from all walks of life. The way they showed each other love was so individualized based on their personality. No one else in the world will have that but them. That’s what I took away from it, nobody can take that away from you if you keep that alive. It was exactly what I had envisioned in my mind when I wrote the song.
You’re also working on another project, slated to drop this year, what can your fans expect from the forthcoming material?
I’m very very excited. It’s going to be my more full-length EP which is going to be released around summer time. We filmed the music video for the lead single, the song is really important to me and draws parallels to other parts of my life. So I kind of allowed myself to explore parts of my life. The creative for this EP as well as the video is probably the furthest that I’ve pushed myself. It’s really cool; a lot more acoustic in sound but I thought that was really important because it speaks to my sound.
If you had to give a piece of advice to young girls looking to pursue music, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to know who you are and to own that. For me, going into all of this music stuff and finally coming to who I was as an artist, it took me so long to get there because I was afraid to own who I was. Finding myself and not being afraid to present it that way gave me a lot more confidence in what I was releasing and what I plan to release. It made me stand my ground.
Your music is not going to be for everybody and that took so much weight off my shoulder because I stopped trying to please everyone. That’s one part about music that’s so fucking cool. Make the shit that you like and whoever likes it is going to fuck with it.
If you enjoyed our interview with Joyia, check out our conversation with Ari Hicks!