Who is Joy Crookes?
If you haven’t heard Joy Crookes’ name or her silky neo-soul dripping through your radio, your time is running out. The 21-year-old singer-songwriter and producer is fast becoming the name on everyone’s lips, after earning fourth place in the BBC Sound of 2020 shortlist and a nomination for the Brits Rising Star Award.
Her sensationally smooth vocals, melting melodies and intricate, genre-hopping instrumentation is instantly hypnotising. And, with three EPs already under her belt and a new album rumoured to be on the way – 2020 looks set to be Joy Crookes’ year.
The story so far…
Born in Elephant and Castle, Joy Crookes started to hone what would become her signature sound when she was just 12 years old. As well as writing and producing her own songs using Garageband, she’d play guitar in bands with her mates performing, in her words, “crap covers of New Order” as well as Gregory Issacs’ track, ‘Lonely Girl’.
But, it was only when she posted a video to YouTube of herself singing a cover of ‘Hit The Road Jack’, attracting 60,000 views, that her musical ascent began. Her debut ‘Influence’ EP followed in 2018 and announced Joy Crookes to the world in a swift five tracks with lead single ‘Mother May I Sleep With Danger’ racking up over 7 million streams on Spotify. The standout song ‘Power’ – inspired by Donald Trump and an ode to self-worth – introduced Crookes as a lyrical force to be reckoned with.
“It came from me just saying ‘It’s enough. I don’t need your permission. I’m gonna say what I feel”, Crookes revealed in an interview with Hotpress.
Last year the infectiously ambitious and hard-working Crookes released not one but two EPs. The Reminiscence EP was an unfiltered ode to the women in her life, relationships and inequality. Whilst her most recent ‘Perception’ EP kept the trip-hop beats and woozy jazz flowing and saw Joy dedicating a whole track her home city on ‘London Mine’.
“The song celebrates the invisible people and how London belongs to no one but everyone,” Crookes revealed to Line Of Best Fit. “It’s a celebration of immigrants who make up this country.”
Crookes wrapped up the year with the release of breezy beat-heavy track, ‘Early’, featuring Dublin rapper Jafaris and further showcasing her divergent creativity.
Joy Crookes often quickly gets compared to Amy Winehouse, Lily Allen and Lauryn Hill. But, her influences and artistry is much deeper, diverse and vibrant than these easy comparisons.
The daughter of a Bangladeshi mother and Irish father, Joy grew up listening to and experiencing a rich tapestry of musical influences as varied as the urban landscape she inhabited. Driving Joy to dance classes her Dad would immerse her in the sounds of Nick Cave, King Tubby, Kendrick Lamar, Gregory Issac, The Clash. Whilst, the video for ‘Since I Left You’ was shot in Bangladesh and based on a photo taken in her great Grandma’s village.
Her timeless storytelling she credits to the Irish poets she was told about and would read. Speaking to the Irish Times, she said: “Dad would sit me down on the staircase before I’d go to sleep and recite poems to me by the likes of WB Yeats and Paddy Kavanagh..the constant imagery from poets’ works is something I definitely inherited, consciously or not”.
“This Bangladeshi-Irish Londoner is a soulful storyteller with a beguiling, timeless sound”. The Guardian
“Her soft R&B melodies and soulful lyrical inflections encompass the social and political dichotomies of living in the metropolis”. The Line Of Best Fit
“Joy Crookes is very much here. And without being rushed, she’s not going anywhere”. The Evening Standard.
In recent interviews Joy Crookes has hinted that her debut album could be released as soon as this spring. And, of course you can watch Joy Crookes live at Latitude on the BBC Sounds Stage this summer.
Latitude Festival returns to Henham Park, Southwold, Suffolk on 16th-19th July with headliners HAIM, Liam Gallagher, The Chemical Brothers and Billy Bailey plus many up and coming new artists.