Literature feeds my music – Joyce Olong

Nathaniel Bivan


Daily Trust: How would you describe your kind of music?


Joyce Olong: My music is very conversational. It’s quite thoughtful, with a lot of literary terms. I purposely put a lot of literature into it because that’s what I like. So it’s still into the alternative path because I haven’t been able to define the kind of music I make. I just write and make what I feel like, and then I always want to share it. 


DT: You mainly use the keyboard. Do you hope to explore another musical instrument?

Joyce: I’m comfortable playing with the keyboard on stage because I can sing and play at the same time. I used to play the saxophone, but I haven’t played it in about six years. Aside these, I play the drums and produce.

DT: You have an EP titled ‘Merci Beaute’. Why is the title in French?

Joyce: What I am trying to say is, thank you beautiful, but I was looking for something quite exquisite to use. I tried Spanish, I don’t know much about Yoruba or any other language, and then researched how to say, thank you, in French and it seemed simple and fine. This is what I had in mind for the project: one page was like a novella or thank you card for the important women that helped me through dark times in my life. 

DT: What song will you say you have the most connection with since you started singing?

Joyce: There are actually two that I think I like the most, ‘Stay Another Day’and ‘Shekels’. They are not in the EP, which was just to show you how Joyce sounds and what she can do. It’s like an introduction.

DT: How did your musical career begin?

Joyce: I started writing before I could sing. I used to listen to a lot of rap, and I can’t really rap. If you listen to slow music, that means you are ready to be in that mood, but if you listen to rap, you want to listen to somebody else talk about something, and there’s a lot of emotion in rap. I like Biggie the most. He’s amazing. I also like Wu-Tang Clan, Tupac, and so on. That was how I started writing. I began at age six and became conscious of what I was doing at age seven. By the time I was eight, in Primary Five, I made up my mind about wanting to do music. I didn’t get my piano till I was ten. That was when I knew I was set. At that stage I could write and didn’t go off key. 

I used to write songs and make albums with my siblings. We were bored because there was nothing to do and there was no television, except a computer. We used to use a keyboard, the one I still use today that is 12-years old and a floppy disk to record and slot it in the computer. When we got the instruments to the computer, we used Windows Movie Maker to record. We put up a tiny microphone on the speaker and sing into it. So, we probably had ten albums of rubbish. But then, they are now all lost. All my siblings do music also, but I started consciously when I was ten. I think I still make about the same kind of music I did when I was little, with better lyrics though, but same melody and style. I tried everything. I wish I could do Nigerian music, but I haven’t got a very good example to emulate. Asher is Nigerian, but she doesn’t do Nigerian music. Tuface is different, although still in Afro-pop. I want something that will stand out because I have never wanted to blend in. I tried it when I was little and it didn’t work out, so I decided to just accept that I am different. 

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