Joy Crookes: Intertwining Heritage with Aesthetic
Crookes’ voice has been compared to the likes of the late, great Amy Winehouse for its rich vibrancy and expression.
You may not have heard of her yet, but Bangladeshi-Irish singer Joy Crookes has been garnering some much-deserved attention. She has managed to amass 108k followers on Instagram, almost 7 million views on her YouTube channel and, not to mention, a feature on Miss Vogue describing her as ‘One To Watch In 2019’.
Crookes’ voice has been compared to the likes of the late, great Amy Winehouse for its rich vibrancy and expression. Her vocals are gentle yet husky with a velvety warmth reminiscent of classical jazz musicians. Though the 20-year-old is flattered to be compared to one of the ‘greats’, she is clearly determined to “do [her] own thing” – whether in terms of her fashion choices or musical style, and this is undoubtedly what has kept her global fanbase growing.
Joy’s videos – specifically ‘London Mine’ and ‘For a Minute’ beautifully encapsulate the colourful yet raw aspects of London that are typically unglamourised
Joy’s lyricism really manages to keep her audiences’ ears pricked – her two EP’s Reminiscent and Perception which dropped this year were delicately infused with her experiences of growing up in South London and her dual-identity. ‘London Mine’ kicks-off lyric “Bangla noise on Brick Lane / That’s the sound of my home”, purposefully highlighting the multicultural nature of the UK and the historically Bangladeshi settlements of East London.
Her videos – specifically ‘London Mine’ and ‘For a Minute’ beautifully encapsulate the colourful yet raw aspects of London that are typically unglamourised as they’re considered a “shit hole by the rest of the city”. Fruit & veg stalls, African fabric stores and “£2 chicken & chip shops” all form the backdrop of her videos, making her work all the more iconic and embracing of Britain’s rich immigrant culture.
“My dual identity reflects more about me as an artist. I grew up with so many different cultures and influences around me… Irish people have a real way with words, we have incredible writers like Oscar Wilde, Paddy Kavanagh, Van Morrison. Then Bangladeshi culture is different – the way we style our hair, the way we present ourselves, our mannerisms”. Crookes’ style is perhaps the most profound aspect of her image. You’d never catch her without her statement gold jhumki (traditional South Asian earrings) and fabric entwined braids. Her elegant hybrid of animal print vintage coats with street-style sports luxe truly makes Joy Crookes Joy Crookes - and you can hear her lyrics through her resounding style.
Having so few South Asian artists in the music industry is one of the reasons Joy proudly asserts her Bangladeshi roots
This kind of fusion – mixing East and West, traditional and contemporary – has been more popularised nowadays. To name a few, fashion designers Ashish and Kim Shui; artists Jorja Smith in ‘Be Honest’ and singer Raveena, underlines how artists and musicians of various descent negotiate their cultural identity within their work.
Having so few South Asian artists in the music industry is one of the reasons Joy proudly asserts her Bangladeshi roots: “For South Asian artists, MIA is the most famous in the West - Jay Sean and Zayn Malik too, those three probably… it’s good that I’m opening up to the fact that I’m Bangladeshi.”
Ultimately, Joy’s agenda is to spread positive energy with her music. She manages to not only do this, but also empowers her audience by openly loving her culture, incorporating the jewellery and accessories typically tucked away for weddings and festivals into her every day style. Joy commences her European tour in October.
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