Published on September 30th, 2020 | by MuzikScribe


Joy Denalane: Universal Language Of Love

Tell me your whole inception into music — When did you first become interested in it? And, how did it all begin for Joy Denalane?

It started quite late actually. I mean, I’ve been singing as long as I can remember. But there was not really anybody around me who told me to follow that path until I met somebody who also listened to me singing around all day long. And he told me he knew a band that was looking for a female singer. And I went there, and from that moment on it was all clear to me – I just loved it! And I started developing my dreams, but also my voice and my singing skills.

Now you’re from Berlin, correct? So growing up overseas, who did / do you consider to be your strongest influences?

Yes I grew up in Berlin, and as you can imagine the lobby for Jazz, Funk, Soul (and) Hip-Hop music is not as strong. So I would probably consider my father, and then my older brothers, my strongest musical influences. My father had a huge record collection full of Funk, Soul, Jazz music, and not only did he play it for us he also let us use his records…and so I ended up sitting in front of his collection playing all these songs from Marvin to Aretha, Chaka Khan, Earth, Wind & Fire, Thelonious Monk, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, I mean it’s an endless list – Smokey Robinson. And, yeah, I guess that’s where I started creating my musical DNA. I would say it started in front of my dad’s record collection.

Photo Credit: Ulrike Rendermann

At what point in time, specifically, did you even opt to pursue music on a professional basis?

I hadn’t started really thinking about becoming a professional musician until I met somebody who offered me a deal, period. That’s when I realized, “okay, maybe you should give it a shot” because up until then I was just a singer and I did that as a job – as a hobby – but I wanted to follow my academic career…and then I stopped studying at the University, and I dared to jump into the cold water.

What particular string of events actually led to your current signing with Motown Records?

Me and my producer, we just went into the studio and decided to make the best music possible. Once the album was done, I played it for my label and there was this one guy – who by the way has had a lot of impact on many musical careers here in Germany – he was so blown away by the record, and asked me if he could take it to the states and play it for Motown. Which he did, and the next thing I know he comes back and said Motown agreed; they want to make a deal and release your record, and we took it from there. The music spoke for itself maybe. And maybe it was the right moment, the right time, the right sound. Sometimes you just don’t know, you know? What happens next, but I am glad and thankful.

Your latest single / video is entitled “Be Here In The Morning,” and it features C.S. Armstrong — Tell me about this particular composition; how did it come to fruition?

I asked a colleague of mine whether he has great ideas of male singers, and he came back with a list that I went through and that one voice was just intriguing. It did something with me, and I didn’t really know who he was and what he was about and what point he was in his career…and it also didn’t matter because I loved the spirit in his voice. And so I started writing him on Instagram, and he answered right away which doesn’t happen everyday. So we took on from there, and I asked him whether he could imagine hopping on one song – I had this one particular song in mind and I sent him the record. And I didn’t really know what was going to be the outcome, and he sent it back not too long after that and the whole song just came to life on another level. I thought it was beautiful before, but then once he jumped on it just became so special. It was like the perfect love song to me. It sounds quite old school, but it still has something that goes deep into your soul if I may say that. I think Roberto Di Gioia, my producer, he just made the perfect production around us. It’s old school, but it’s still classic material in a way because it’s timeless and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Of course “Be Here In The Morning” comes courtesy of your recently unleashed  Let Yourself Be Loved LP, your first official U.S. album release — Although self-explanatory, conceptually, what does that title represent both to and for you?

Because we live in a time in which people have a lot of pressure, because we are competing and that’s the way our society is built and I think the social media platforms add onto that. Now we’re not only competing with our friends and colleagues, but we’re also competing with an anonymous mass on social media and that puts us even more into depression and as a result it makes us more insecure. And I’d like to tell people that they shouldn’t be as insecure about themselves as they are sometimes. They should rather believe in themselves a little more and allow people to love them the way they are, and also see that the way they are is lovable and, yeah, that’s what I’m trying to tell people. We are good enough to be loved.

Switching gears here, what exactly do you want people to get from your music?

That is a hard one because when you, as an artist, go into the studio and you start writing, a lot of times you’re writing stuff off your chest or your soul so you don’t really aim for a certain message that you want to tell people in the beginning. Only when you put the album together and you look at it, can you see that there’s a message behind it. And I guess my message was love this time; love in all its facets and all the different levels of it…we need love. Love is like a motor that makes us work; I guess that’s what I want people to remember. Like I said, we have so much to do and we have so many struggles in the world and our personal lives, that sometimes we forget about the power of love and I guess that’s the message: love and let yourself be loved.

If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

This is a forever list…I just started right away…Jazmine Sullivan, Teyana Taylor, Tiana Major9, Marvin Gaye, D’Angelo, Frank Ocean…oh my God…Ari Lennox, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Tiwa Savage…I could go on forever – like a lot.

If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?

Definitely Carnegie Hall in New York. I mean, it stands for equality and open-mindedness in a way…and, I mean, there’s this one legendary concert from Bill Withers from 1973. Oh my God! I mean, this is like probably every singer’s or musician’s dream to one day play at Carnegie Hall, as it stands for success and equality altogether.

Photo Credit: Bennie Julian Gay

Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?

I definitely see myself still making music, of course, because that’s not just something that you do because it’s a hobby. It’s a decision that you make, and it’s like a call – it’s a calling, and you don’t get to just take it all off as you take off your clothes; it’s something that’s deep inside of you…and I still see myself making music 10 years from now, 20 years from now, and I hope that I stay healthy. I mean, I guess that’s the most important thing in the world – that you stay healthy.

As for the immediate, what’s next for you, Joy?

Right now, I am promoting my album which is the most fun in a long time because people embrace me, and I would have never expected that to happen. Because it’s such a different sound, in a way it’s not the typical radio sound these days, so I enjoy myself promoting the record and I am hoping to come to United States very soon so I can perform for you.

Is there anything I left out or just plain forgot to mention?

No, there’s nothing…I think you did pretty good, you’re very precise, thank you!

Any “closing” thought(s) for our readers?

Love. More love…and see the good thing in people. Try to understand people, learn from people, and stop postulating your opinion so hard. Maybe let other things come into your mind, and let them resonate a little bit more. Be more open, be more loving, be more kind and understanding.

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