It’s a date night for Joy Crooks. The South London singer-songwriter is at home in the UK for the first time in a few weeks, having spent the last month traveling across the pond. In another week, he will complete the European leg of his tour. But first, call romance.
Well, technically, Stylescaster calls him first. Crooks rises above the zoom, when the morning light of his city darkens through the curtains. Crooks admits, “I’m not really good at going on dates, but I’m going on a date with my friends, which is really nice.” Platonic or not, these moments of connection are exactly the kind of experience that inspires Crooks and his music. For Crookes, there is something to be gained from the familiar discomfort.
“I’m pretty interested in something that challenges me,” she shares. “It could be anything – a relationship in my life, a friend, even a situation where I’m not involved. Anything that makes me go, ‘Why?’ I like the challenge of being able to answer ‘why?’ Three to four minute song. My favorite songs I’ve ever written were always a little harder to write because I had to answer some questions. “
It’s really important to connect with childish instincts.
Since the release of his 2021 album, Leather, The British artist is steadily returning to songwriting for his next record, which will mark his second LP since it finally appeared on the scene in 2016. “I did the first one, now I have to do the second one. I’m in the early stages of the writing process, but I’m having a really good time, “said Crooks. “I am forcing myself to have many limitations; I’m trying to replicate how I started making art and music, and it wasn’t too much. It’s really important to connect with innocence and childish instincts. “
At 23 years old, it may seem that Crooks don’t have to go too far back to tap into this space. But when you get started in the music industry as a teenager, it can seem like a lifetime away. Crooks, who was born to a Bangladeshi mother and an Irish father in Lambeth, London, dropped out of high school at the age of 16 to pursue music more seriously. “I thought I was really young and maybe I should have stayed in school. But then I was, ‘Well, I’ve done it now, so there’s nothing to go back to.’ It has to give my best shot. And I’m not good at giving up. “
Photo: Insanity Records.
It’s safe to say that things worked out for Crooks. After signing a publishing deal at 17, Crooks went on to release three extended plays and was nominated for a Rising Star Award at the 2020 Brit Awards — and it won’t be the last time. Its release follows Leather, Crooks was nominated for two major Brit Awards for Best New Artist and Best Pop / R&B Act, where he was nominated alongside Adele, Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran.
“It was weird to be nominated against some of the biggest artists in the UK!” He says. But for the audience, this is no surprise. With clever lyrics and a jazz powerhouse pipe, Crooks is not only in their league — he’s building a place of his own, where his love for London and his family’s immigrant roots can go to the center.
On the front, Crooks talks about growing up with immigrant parents, the inspiration of his childhood, his experiences on a trip to North America, and more. Read on for Joy Crooks’ Stylescaster in the record interview below.
On growing up with music
“Music has always been a part of my life in the sense that it was always played at home and it was always something I was really interested in. I bought records, I bought albums, I used them. Buy magazines about music and read about new weekly albums. That’s what came out. I was really into music – not necessarily as a musician, but as someone who really liked it. I was a big fan. That doesn’t really change. What I’ve heard has changed. “
On his inspiration
“Frida Kahlo. Connie West. I love Kani. His creative mind is just fantastic — his political mind is nothing. And black female jazz singers in general. Their unconventional nature and the way they have occupied space is probably one of the most inspiring things to me. I find it important to be unforgiving, no matter how difficult it may be. We don’t have many days on this planet. It’s important to say what I want to say and get things out of my chest. “
On lessons from his parents
“I think opportunities are not something that is so easily transferred to you. They can be there, but it’s all about how you catch them. I’ve always had this mentality. I think it’s definitely born of having immigrant parents, but Growing up in a place where many of us are born immigrants. Many of us understand that. You just can’t rock and something will happen, you know what I mean? You really have to work on it. “
I put a lot of pressure on myself when I was younger. Now, I think moderation is essential.
About his family’s reaction to his career
“My dad understood because that’s what we said. He has a very immigrant mentality, in the sense that if I had the chance, why not take it? But it was harder for my mother; she wanted me to continue my studies. Increase. In the background, I probably could have stayed. I don’t think I needed to be so young. It wasn’t the easiest thing. I would say, ‘What did you say ?!’ But I want to think that they are proud. I also think that they know that I have a somewhat perfect mindset, in the sense that I have to fix things. It’s not even their pressure or the pressure of the label. . “
How his songwriting process has changed
“I think I’m much more confident. I have to admit that some of the songs I’ve written are going to be a little worse. When I was younger I put a lot of pressure on myself thinking that every song I wrote needed to be the best. Now, I think moderation is essential. I need to have songs that aren’t necessarily trying to reach for something. Or where I’m trying to reach for something and I can’t catch it. That’s fine. Don’t put that pressure on yourself. As such, the process has changed because I now realize that those songs are part of the process, just like the good songs. “
On the haters
“Sometimes I really like criticism because it means I’m doing the right thing. I don’t want to be everyone’s cup of tea. Especially when it comes to people in my own community, I really enjoy that criticism because it’s like, ‘Oh wow, this is literally what I was trying to write. And you’re just highlighting the problem for me. ‘
Too much praise is too little an insult, though. I think both are harmful. When someone really tries to blow smoke into your ass, it’s just as problematic as when someone tries to drop a bomb on your mountain. “
Like Art Play-Do-it is very flexible.
How fans interpret his music
“What I find really interesting about interpretation is that people really make things their own and I’m happy to do it for them. I can’t control that process. Interpretation makes music such a therapy because you listen to music and You think they’re written for you because they relate to your situation. In many ways, it’s such a nice connection that I don’t want to get into it. So I try not to worry too much about how people interpret music messages. – The message they want to create. “
I got this song called “Fit Don’t Fail Me Now” which is used continuously for soccer in UK and it has nothing to do with feet. It can also be used for a foot fetish ad. I love that! I wrote a pop song about performance, armchair activism, and void culture, and for some reason, it was used in all these super literal contexts. I have no problem with that, because it’s ridiculous to me. Like Art Play-Do-it is very flexible. People can create whatever they want. And that’s amazing. “
His North America tour and upcoming festival
“I love America. I just love acting there. I love how emotional people are. I don’t know what happened on the show in New York, but something happened to me and I started crying half way through. It was not closed. I could not sing my song. But everyone sang my song during ‘Skin’. It was really special.
I’ve also been doing a lot of festivals this year, so this has been a normal development of my live work. It’s something I’m working on that I want to expand and expand. “
This interview has been lightly edited and shortened for clarity.
Tickets for Joy Crookes’ 2022 concert are available for purchase at Ticketmaster. Discounts are also available on StubHub or VividSeats using StyleCaster’s exclusive code, SC15, at আ 15 discount checkout.
At STYLECASTER our goal is to bring style to people, and we only feature products that we think you will like. Please note that if you purchase something by clicking on a link in this story, we may receive a small commission on the sale.