Soho Rising: Joy Crookes, the BRIT nominee making waves

Joy Crookes on stage looking to the left. There is a purple hue over the whole image

Following her set at Soho Warehouse, we caught up with the musician to chat about the release of her debut album, ‘Skin’

By Abigail Hirsch   Video by Loamis Rodriguez and Paulo Berberan   Photography by Neil Watson

Skin, the debut album from London-based artist, Joy Crookes, is three months old and already topping charts. Her lyrical tracks have impressed the industry with a mix of R&B and neosoul sounds. Since the release of her album, the singer-songwriter has secured two BRIT nominations for Best New Artist and Best Pop/ R&B Act.

Crookes was born and raised in south London and cites the city as a major source of inspiration. Through a fusion of unapologetic lyrics and genre-blending sounds, her songs tell stories of identity and self-exploration. Read on for a snapshot of what’s next for the singer.

Tell us about your style of music. 
‘The music I make is very unapologetic. It’s quite lyrical. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes sad, which is ironic because my name is Joy.’
You just released your debut album, Skin – what was that creative process like?
‘Creating Skin was a cathartic experience; I loved every step of the journey and I’m proud of it. We collaborated with some of the most incredible musicians and recorded at Konk Studios in north London, which was founded by The Kinks.’
Skin feels so personal and tied to identity. What do you hope people take away from listening to it?
‘I find it a bonus that people are even listening, so whatever they make of it is up to them. That’s the beauty of art; it’s subjective and always up for interpretation.’

Joy Crookes on stage singing and playing guitar. There is an orange hue over the whole image
Joy Crookes sat down in front of a piano and microphone smiling at the audience. She has both hands up slightly as though she is waving to the crowd

Tell us a story behind one of your songs.
‘When my first relationship ended, my ex-boyfriend started dating a man. “When You Were Mine” is a celebration of their love and feeling slightly jealous of it, set against the backdrop of Brixton, south London.’
Do you have any pre-show rituals? 
‘First, I remember to breathe, and make sure I look and feel comfortable. Then I have a beverage that’s probably not a soft drink.
‘My band and I also have a huddle, the JCFC – Joy Crookes Football Club. Football as in soccer for those in America. It feels ritualistic before shows.’
What’s next for Joy Crookes? 
‘Writing new music and continuing to take Skin to all corners of the earth. On top of that, I’d love to travel and experiment further with my sound to learn more about myself musically and see where that takes me.’

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