Joyce Olong is one remarkable music talent who has only just started in her journey to greatness.
Born to a Nigerian parents – a father from Benue state and a mother from Akwa Ibom state, Joyce grew up in Lagos before heading for Canada in 2012.
Joyce spoke with Pulse about her earlier days in which she was surrounded by music of diverse genre.
Joyce describes music as a part of her, with music calculating in her head at every turn.
“Music is me and I am music, whatever I do there is music in it, I am in this chair and I’m thinking of a beat, I’m thinking of a song, I just see music in everything, I see music in white, in black, in gold, in dirt.”
Olong learnt to play the chatterbox by listening and watching others play instruments. She also attended a music school in Lagos, learning some classical music and how to play the sax. All that added up in enhancing the music that would be playing in her head she recalled.
In secondary school, she recounted coming back home from school to write and perform songs with her sister who took the background vocals, and her brother playing the drums, adding that they even recorded albums that never went public.
On her thoughts about the Nigerian music industry, Joyce says it has its share of challenges but it is moving forward, saying the world is paying attention to Nigerian music.
“There is always ginjah in African music and people like that bubbly sound, African music has its own beat and swag.”
“Music is beautiful but Nigerian music is solid, it has matter” says Joyce.
On whether artists should stick to a genre of music, Joyce believes artists can switch things up but not do it for the fame.
“You can explore but be yourself, don’t do it for the fame, be yourself, I feel like some people are not themselves when they make music, but it’s okay, you can be swayed but if you wanna come back, you still can, it’s your decision.”
She however says people would want to identify an artist with a particular genre, and she has been presented that question of what class of musician she is.
Joyce identifies her class of music as Afro-soul, advocating for relaxed music where she can express herself the way she can, noting that the world is already moving too fast.
She believes artists should give music that people would want to come back and listen to for its timeless value.
“Music I realize that in this age, if it’s mainstream music, give it 4 months, then people get tired, and are like what’s next, you have to bring something that would last, that they have never heard before, that they don’t expect so they can always go back to it,” Joyce said.
Olong thinks “the future of alternative music is bright, and those doing it should not try to change, there is chance for everybody.”
She doesn’t like the term new wave, not seeing it as what best describes the gifted set of emerging Nigerian musicians.
“I don’t like the term new wave because we’re picking up the sounds we heard growing up and reforming the sound.”
Joyce has been all about the music art since 2004, starting out learning and playing the piano (and gesticulating how she played ) which would have a floppy disk for recording the sounds.
She played with her sister Cecilia, and listening to rap music from the likes of Mobb Deep, Biggy and 2pac, thanks to her uncle who put her on to the genre.
The ‘Shekels’ singer recounted learning to organize her words through rap, with Eminem in particular being her muse. “Although he was vulgar, the structure, the relatability and conversation stood him out, while Biggy taught me the swag.”
Joyce is good with the saxophone and is also quite the dancer saying she pays attention to her body to guide her when dancing.
Joyce is set to make a statement with a body of work Extended Play and draw other talented music creatives to her brand, hence why she did not feature any artist on the EP she explained.
She however notes she would like to work with equally emerging artists such as Yinka Bernie, Lady Donli, Tomi Thomas, AYLO, Tay Iwar and Sute Iwar among others.
Ade Bantu also came up as one musician she wants to collaborate with because of his unique delivery and storytelling craft.
Joyce Olong said she was taught not to get too excited about life, but just appreciate it and be grateful for the moment.
On her signing to Muyiwa Akhigbe’s independent label Olma Records, Joyce recalls Muyiwa contacting her, telling her how much he admires her talent, which seemed so genuine to her that he reached out because it was about the common love for music and not some ulterior motive.
Joyce though sees herself as an introvert has made good effort to be more outgoing and connect with people, and which has seen her performing her music at gigs.
Believe me when I say the future of Nigerian music is bright with the talents like the amazing Joyce Olong.
Joyce intends releasing an EP comprising 5 tracks, titled “Merci beauté” (“Thank you beautiful”), a project she says the “is like letters to the women in her life that helped her through hard times.”
The EP drops on the talented singer’s birthday October 6, 2017.
Explore Joyce Olong on Soundcloud.