Photography by Mark Kiszely

The joy she brings: Joya Mooi’s music has a place in every heart

Joya Mooi is a 28 year-old songbird whose music flew into our playlists all the way from Amsterdam. The South African-born Dutch-bred singer has managed to sustain an almost 10-year career with a sound that is plush and subdued but still carries a cool, diasporic and global appeal. Her compilation of alternative, new wave funk and soft pop music blows effortlessly through the wind chimes of her scintillating voice. With just as much ease, she glides into jazz music; paying respects to the traditional elements of the genre but still retaining the freshness that comes with her tonality.

Hard Melk is the title of her 2010 pilot album which, paradoxically, opens with a song as smooth as butter. The introductory track, “My Day”, is the perfect song to play first thing in the morning. The light RnB beat carries the lyrics “it’s gonna be your day, it’s gonna be a good day.” The subject matter of her music is refreshingly self-affirming, inside and outside of the woes of love. Her track list takes us through a range of genres and even offers some surprises along the way (listen to her Dub Spensa collaboration, “Hard Melk Anthem”) but it guarantees every kind of listener their personal favourite Joya Mooi song.

Crystal Growth is one way to describe the evolution of her journey as an artist and is also the title of her sophomore album. We join the soulful Sagittarius on a jazzy crusade through a romance that nurtures her learning and self-betterment after a season of not feeling like herself. The live jazz instrumentation is truly the co-star of this body of work. With a string of songs carrying a strong delivery of jazz and blues melodies, the project is equally dense with instrumental solos as heard in “Intro”, “Out of Love” and “Before You Know”. It’s the sheer exquisiteness of her delivery that landed the song on the #2 spot on the Netherlands iTunes Jazz Top 10 chart.

Her latest music offering came in the form of the EP, The Waiting Room in 2017. The feel of this project is more futuristic and automated. In retaining her signature glass-like, soprano vocals, she marries them with auto tune, echoes and voice effects glazed over soft electro-funk and computerized instrumentals; elements that are particularly evident in the song “Took Too Long”. The track list permeates an almost transcendental mood that makes one feel as though you’re travelling through the Milky Way.

The excitement in being a Joya Mooi listener is that no project of hers sounds anything like the previous. With an impressive 32 000 monthly listenership on Spotify, it’s clear that she’s doing something right. Her much anticipated 3rd studio album, The Ease of Others, is set to drop on Friday, the 13th of September. If the quality of her work is anything to go by, we guarantee that giving it a listen will magically dissipate any bad energy that comes with the unlucky day.

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