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AAA Music | 23 May 2024

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AAA Music Approved: Joy Morales

| On 13, Jun 2021

Who are you and where are you from?

My name is Joy Morales. I’m from Miami and currently based in New York City. I come from a family of musicians. My grandmother played the saxophone, harmonica and guitar. My great uncles were all a group of singers called Genesis and sang gospel, after serving in the war in Vietnam. And my father is a Salsa singer who came to the states from Puerto Rico and toured at a young age with the legends of salsa, Richie Ray & Bobby Cruz before going on his own. So when I expressed that I’d like to learn to play the piano at age 6, my father didn’t object. 

I always had a love/hate relationship with music. Hated the instruction and instructors but was fascinated with the world your mind could create through the ears. A child loves to create fantastical worlds in their mind where they can dictate the color, texture, scenario of said world and what they are in it. I believe that part’s the most fun. Whether they can fly, run real fast or are incredibly acrobatically skilled, they’re pretty much the masters and the “dime piece” of that world. 

That’s how I feel when I make music.

What inspired you to get into music?

My inspiration to pursue career in music comes from the stage, primarily. At first it was watching my father in action during his tours. Seeing him give himself fully on stage was, and still is, one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. Not only because of how beautiful and confident he sounded, and looked, but because of the purity in his confident sound. The integrity. The words he sang in his songs were all true, because he lived them. 

But it’s also in seeing other musicians and artists be unapologetically themselves when they’re practicing/performing their craft. There’s such an attractive light and air to them when they’re shedding their craft and showcasing it. 

What have you done?

What I’m most proud of is my first ever body of work which I released during the winter of 2020. Neuma’s Cry is basically a metamorphosis of self, a growth from childhood and naïveté to experience. In my experience, it’s about my growing pains, self realization and love, and about who God is in my life. 

The record takes on a sonic transformation as well. It starts off light and airy and turns dark and expansive. Finally channeling a direction, it spreads it wings and moves forward. Each song is illustrated in dialogues, the first being a conversation between me and God. The second, between me and the World. The second to last is between me and my Self. 

All of this culminating to me having more of an understanding of myself, and the different rooms and corridors that occupy my being. It’s a process. And processes can only begin when you make a move. A calling out. 

That’s why it’s called Neuma’s Cry, the “crying out of the soul”. 

What are you like live?

My initial favorite experience is playing for singer and longtime collaborator on all of Kendrick Lamar’s discography, Anna Wise. I was in California spending a couple weeks with her and my friend Jon Bap, we were working on my EP and rehearsing her music for a couple shows when she got called to open for Hiatus Kaiyote in DTLA. It was such an intimate set, with Jon playing a drum and some guitar, while I played keys and bass, all of us singing. It was the first time we had played such a stripped down version of what Anna’s music would normally be and it felt so free and powerful. The homies from Hiatus had such a wonderful energy that night and it felt like everyone was part of something bigger than just two bands playing songs one after another. 

The other experience I’ll never forget is opening for Anderson. Paak with Kadhja Bonet over at House of Vans in Chicago. I was playing keys and bass, singing backgrounds for her and we were a four piece group put together just shortly before the show. Getting to play with fellow Gorillaz drummer Gabe Wallace, and Joe Harrison (guitarist for Nick Hakim) was such a treat. That venue was so packed and hot, sweat came in bullets that evening but the music and energy in that room – from the crowd, to the bands, was sky high.

It’s kinda funny because when it comes to supporting other artists, my hands tend to be everywhere – from playing keys to bass and singing. But when I play my own music, I like to just focus on the singing and let my friends be the world I’m floating in.

What makes you different?

My music is immersive, I think. It’s movies, imagination, and mystery from its sounds to the many (and few) words I sing. But it’s also real. The emotions, thoughts and fears I write about. I think that when people hear all this, they feel intrigued. I’m hoping that with time, as I release more music, they’ll feel a sense of catharsis like I did when I I used to listen to Björk on the train religiously for a sense of relief from my anxiety when I was younger.

Physical vs Downloading vs Streaming…How do  you listen to music?

Man. I wish I had record player. That’s what I’ll say about  physicals. I’m the kind of person that listens to records in their entirety, not just the single.

I used to burn CDs to play my music in the car, but disc readers  aren’t really a thing anymore – so I adapt. Ha. I’m definitely a streamer, now. Not that I love it, but I am grateful for the ease in which I can find out about all the music that’s being made nowadays. As far as compensation for my art, that’s a different thing and I don’t feel that the wages artists make through streaming reflect our actual level of worth.

What have you been listening to?

My friend L’Rain recently released a new track off of her forthcoming album Fatigue, called “Blame Me”. She’s another person whose music provides catharsis for me. Please listen to anything and everything by her. Her first album, which is self-titled, is extremely beautiful. I’ve also gotten back heavy into Azealia Banks, her album Broke With Expensive Taste was always just *chef’s kiss*. 

What are your aspirations for the future? 

I’m really interested in doing production work for artists I admire. Playing will always be something I enjoy doing for others as well, but getting the chance to create with others is really peaking my interest, now.I am still also very interested in growing as an artist myself,  and working toward releasing new music again soon.

Questions answered by: Joy Morales…