Photography by Johnny Mae

Joya Mooi has ‘Been Here’ and the growth in her latest music is proof of this

“The Ease of Others” is the new album of Amsterdam-born breath of fresh air and musician, Joya Mooi. No stranger to Bubblegum Club, Joya has managed to capture our attention once again following the release of her much anticipated album and compelling visuals in the music video for Been Here. The song is the third on the month old release and, just like the artist behind it, it’s made up of a mixture of different elements of culture, identity and practices. The song speaks on unsuccessful, past relationships past with partners, loved ones and even substances and how, sometimes the cyclic nature of life resurfaces old feelings, bringing about a de ja vu sentiment – “we’ve been here before,” as she chants in the song.

The music video, itself, is a dreamwork. It’s veiled in a vintage filter that matches the content of the song almost too perfectly. We see sultry styling and dreamy colours dance in between the beams of natural light in the video, bringing about a mood that’s settling and laid back, as opposed to one that’s tense or disruptive. The settings in the video see her in spaces one would visit to reminisce – she’s seen pacing in a soft, beige room, looking out a window, pondering in an open field and standing before a body of water as she sings the lyrics “I broke down for you.” In terms of the kaleidoscopic edits, the fast alternating frames, and the pace of the percussion, it marries perfectly with the mood of the song in each phrasing.

Joya speaks quite a bit about her mixed heritage as something that’s enabled to her be such a profound storyteller, something that’s afforded her the chance to travel to different parts of the world and to explore creatively.

On a daily basis I relate differently towards my cultural background, and I wanted to be honest about that. It’s not just black and white, there’s this grey area with different elements that make me feel like I belong/matter – anywhere – that I have learned to define myself.”

The song is a fusion of RnB and hip hop, and a catchy one at that, thanks to the producing work of Blazehoven of the Netherlands, who’s previously worked with talented Dutch rapper, Rey Tranquilo. One could safely assume that Joya’s exposure to Europe’s sounds and her inclination towards a more jazzy but still pounding type of beat are what have made Been Here the ‘ambient banger’ that it is. The rest of the album, as with all her previous work, is an audial sorbet – cleansing and refreshingly enjoyable. Her sound has evolved into one that’s more incorporative of hip hop, percussion-wise, yet her signature of silky, watery instrumentals is still retained, as heard in her song Don’t Let Me Down.

Album cover art by Zarlasht Zia and Niek Dekker

There’s something very telling about Joya’s decision to name her project “The Ease of Others”. The album, itself, acts as a window to her matured, positive and celebratory nature, as an individual. She’s made music you can smile to, music that can inform one, not only about her but about themselves and she’s done it all, tastefully, for the ease of others. The new generation diasporic artiste has done justice to her South African roots and continues to improve on this, flying the flag high overseas.  Her interludes, Modimo, Family Mooi and A Way Forward feature audios of her Tswana family based in Soweto, unpacking their etymology and thoughts on identity. We can only hope that she makes a stop on home soil should she travel with this incredible project on a much deserved international tour.

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