Joyia’s new single “Water” will purge you of your sins. The soft swaying rhythm paired with Joyia’s angelic voice come together to rock you into the perfect sleep or float with you into daydreams. Originally inspired by the uncertainty and looming darkness that came with the first lockdowns a year ago, the song now helps us find peace and makes us feel triumphant. By the end of this song, you will be able to hit the streets with a weight lifted off your shoulders.
There are stunning visuals accompanying the song that feel like film noir underwater. It brings the same sentiments as when you’re home alone and it’s raining. You’ll feel like staring out the window wondering what’s next. It is a spacious music video. Joyia brings us through the feels and has us singing along. We got to talk to the singer-songwriter about looking for inspiration and making the music video for “Water.” Check it all out below along with the exclusive premiere of the video.
What sparked the idea for “Water?” What was the writing process like?
I wrote “Water” back in March of 2020, about a month after we had entered our first lockdown in Toronto. Everything felt extremely uncertain, I was scared, and there was a lot on my mind. Life was so fast-paced before that, and I finally had a lot of time at home to dwell on everything I was feeling, which is something I had never experienced before. One thought led to another, and then I started thinking about who I was in relation to both my personal and professional life. I felt like I had come to this point where that identity seemed so misguided, and I just felt like I needed so much clarity. I remember seeing the reflection of my cross necklace in the panel of my piano and thinking, a lot of people pray when they need clarity. Religion was and is still a huge part of my life (I started music through church choir), but was never something I brought into my music, until now.
The song essentially came out as a prayer for clarity — I started playing the chords and the words felt like they had just started flowing out of me (no pun intended). I wrote the entire song in about 5 minutes, and that hadn’t happened to me in a very long time. It was the first song in a while that made me feel like I was connecting to my artistry again. I showed it to my producer and he sent me a full version back within a couple days saying he was extremely excited about it. The entire writing process was so fast, and I think it was just because it was something that finally felt extremely authentic.
How was shooting the music video? What was it shot on? What kind of stuff did you have on your mood board?
Contrary to the writing process, shooting the music video was an extremely long planning process with a lot of different moving parts. We ended up getting a grant for this project (shoutout to the MVP Project, for whom I am extremely grateful), which allowed us to take more risks and expand our team. The entire mood board was filled with these cool, heavily shadowed and obscure scenes. Our idea was to show water as a concept in a multitude of forms. Although we had a bigger budget, we still had to stretch to every last penny. We spent months conceptualizing, planning, hitting roadblocks, and reconceptualizing; we knew we had some lofty goals and although it took a while, we found a way to make it work.
One of our non-negotiables was shooting this video on film. A couple weeks before the shoot, we realized we had absolutely zero room in the budget to do so. So we reconceptualized again: The video was actually shot completely digitally, and the entire thing was printed onto film afterwards (which is something I never even knew you could do). The result came out pretty much exactly how we wanted it. Shooting the music video was one of the most tiring, fun, and fulfilling things I’ve ever done. The entire team was so talented, and it was an honor to watch them work, let alone work with them. Ultimately, everyone pushed their own boundaries and it was so amazing to watch. We ended up with something that we’re all so happy with, and I’m happy that it’s something I’ll have to look back on forever. It’s funny — I had posted some behind-the-scenes action of a scene we had constructed out of plastic sheets and flowing blue curtains, and a ton of people messaged me asking me if I was actually underwater. I knew right then that we had done our job.
How would you describe your sound? Who are some of your musical icons?
I would describe my sound as a mix of singer/songwriter meets R&B/soul that aligns the refined elements of electronic music with the imperfections and rawness of live music. I’m definitely leaning on the more acoustic side of things with this next project, but it’s a line that I keep walking on and bouncing back and forth between. I grew up with a ton of musical influences, so I always find it hard to pinpoint a select amount of artists that I idolize. But if I had to name a few: Alicia Keys was definitely a huge one growing up in terms of songwriting; early Majid Jordan; Channel Orange era Frank Ocean; Daniel Caesar; and Disclosure — they were definitely a HUGE one especially in terms of developing my scope as a producer. I’d also say the entire genre of bossa nova as a whole — it was something heavily played in my house growing up. The most important thing to me right now is making sure that I don’t limit myself; I love so many different genres and I think ultimately making what I like and what I’m feeling in that moment is what will resonate most because it’s what’s most authentic. If I feel like I’m trying too hard, then it’s probably not right.
Where or what do you do when you’re looking for inspiration?
I’ve been loving getting inspiration from a lot of visuals lately. Sometimes I’ll sit by a window and just look at photos of architecture, graphic design, and fashion — I love seeing new editorial fashion campaigns and the concepts, shapes, and colors that surround them. Concert photography is really amazing to me as well, because it captures both an artist at a moment of extreme passion, as well as the listener on the receiving end. I find a lot of inspiration from visiting new places, and since travel’s been limited because of COVID, going through photo books or looking at cool images has allowed my mind to travel out of the physical space I’m currently in. Being inspired by other art in different mediums, whether it’s visual art, audio, film, photography, etc. is really important to me, and it helps me become really in touch with certain emotions that I may not always get from music alone. It’s especially inspiring to me that all of these different mediums can draw that emotion out of someone, and it makes me want to do the same with my own art form.
Where is home? How do you carry it with you?
Home is a lot of different things to me. As much as it is a place, I’ve realized that physical places and spaces evolve and change over time. Of course, the places I’ve called home will always stay with me in memory. I also find home in certain dishes — food was and is something really important in my family, and making certain dishes brings me right back to that place. Music is also home: certain songs that bring back memories or that I remember listening to growing up. I think the overarching theme is that, to me, home is a feeling. It’s this indescribable feeling of safety, nostalgia, and security: in that moment, experiencing whatever it is that reminds me of home, I feel completely grounded and at peace.
What are you looking forward to?
I’m definitely looking forward to developing as a musician and really experimenting with my sound. I focused a lot on songwriting with this next project, which was something I really wanted to develop and I’m extremely happy with. While I want to keep that, I also want to start diving into more sound/music production and figure out ways to draw emotion and inspiration from that. I’m excited to think of new concepts in terms of my music and visuals, and really allow myself to be more liberal in terms of how I create. I’m looking forward to becoming more in tune with and following my intuition creatively. I think this project finally opened the floodgates for me in that respect, so I’ve become very reinspired. I also can’t wait for COVID to be over (I’m hopeful) because I really can’t wait to begin performing and attending live shows again. And travel — I can’t wait to travel!