Exclusives Interviews 11 July 2023
Author: Vince

JoeBoy Talks New Album ‘Body and Soul’, The Importance of Afrobeats Going Global & More

11 July 2023

In the energetic and fast-growing world of Afrobeat music, JoeBoy is one the few artists capturing the essence of the genre; part of a wave of artists presenting Afrobeats to the world in experimental and exciting ways. The Nigerian-born superstar has become a force to be reckoned with in the music industry. Now following the success of his newest album ‘Body and Soul’ as well as a worldwide tour, we reflect with JoeBoy on the creation and inspiration of the project and his journey so far.

Having carved his path, blending Afrobeat’s vibrant rhythms with contemporary sounds, JoeBoy has created a unique musical experience that resonates with fans across borders. From his beginnings in Lagos, Nigeria, JoeBoy’s rise to stardom showcases not only his exceptional talent but also his unwavering dedication to his craft.

With his undeniable charm and infectious energy, JoeBoy burst onto the scene in 2017 with the release of his debut single, “Baby.” The track quickly became a viral sensation, amassing millions of views on YouTube and capturing the attention of audiences worldwide. His signature sound, a fusion of Afropop and Afrobeat, coupled with his soulful vocals, set him apart in the flourishing scene.

Since then, JoeBoy has continued to dominate the charts, collaborating with industry heavyweights like Mr Eazi, Tiwa Savage, and Mayorkun, among others. Each release further solidifies his place as one of the front runners in the genre, showcasing not only his versatility as an artist but also his ability to deliver infectious hooks and relatable lyrics that resonate with listeners.

Body and Soul is a dynamic and heartfelt piece of work. Encapsulating the layers fans know and love of JoeBoy and the new dimensions he has begun to explore.

In this exclusive interview, we delve into the mind of Joe Boy, exploring his inspirations, his creative process, and the challenges he has faced along the way. 

Let’s start at the beginning. When we think about your early musical influences, how do you think those early musical influences have shaped your sound to where it is now?

“I’d say it’s played a huge role for me subconsciously. Growing up, the kind of music I used to listen to was Michael Jackson, you know he had a lot of pop and love songs out there. I like popular stuff with that kind of influence. Also, I used to listen to Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys, KC and JoJo…etc. Then from Nigeria, I listen to the legends 2Face, P Square, and Dbanj. So those people actually kind of shaped my music tastes to a large extent. That’s why I think it is a very very natural thing for me to make love songs.

“When it comes to making love songs or pop songs it’s like second nature to me. I don’t have to think too hard not to overthink things, it just comes naturally. I’d say it was because of those influences that I just mentioned that made me inclined to make the kind of songs I make right now. Maybe subconsciously.”

Do you tend to lean toward that R&B sound when creating?

“I’d say on my come up, like the first two to three years of me breaking into the Nigerian and African music scene I was always more inclined to make those kinds of songs, just love songs. But I’ve come to realise that change is constant, and also it’s important to evolve. I always have that influence from way back, but I try to make music based on my experiences. I just try to add my own spice or sauce to whatever kind of music I’m making. So it could depend on the subject matter. But I like to make music that feels natural to me because I’m not trying to follow trends or be on the next popping thing.

“Amapiano is hot right now and everybody is linked to Amapiano. I’m not like that, but if it feels natural to me, I’ll do it. So I’ve learned to trust in my instincts and my gut so I just make music that feels natural to me. When I’m making music I don’t have in the back of my mind that oh, I want to make the next hit song or big song. I just make music that feels natural. So there is no pressure. I’m completely confident that it is the best kind of music to make. When you make music, when you make art in general without any rules or regulations or pathways to follow, you just make it more authentic and original.” 

That’s interesting because you’re known for making bangers…what has made you lean towards trusting your instincts more?

“Let’s say people are more inclined to gravitate towards your music when they feel it is original and authentic. When it feels real, it’s not all about making the best music in the world, it’s about making the best music that feels most original. That is how you get people to gravitate towards it; because when you make music that is original for you, nobody else is like you. Nobody else is like me. So when I make the kind of music that I know is original for me, it’s going to stand out and stand the test of time because I’m not intentionally trying to sound like anybody else out there.” 

So what is your creative process like when you’re in the studio?

“For me when I started making music, I wasn’t making music because I wanted to be famous or get a shit load of money and stuff. I made it because it was something that I enjoyed doing. It was like a form of escape for me. And it’s still something I like doing. So I’m always making music, I’m always in the studio whenever I have time.

“When I am in the studio I don’t have it in my mind like oh I want to make this type of song. It just depends on the way I’m feeling and the vibe and the energy. That’s the way I make music. I’m just always recording and making music. I just like to follow my gut so sometimes I send songs to my A&R or people in general to ask what they think.  When it comes to me making music or my creative process, I like to be in flow like a free flow. I don’t like to create boxes, so I just do what feels natural.”

And would you say that your process has changed much over the years?

“Definitely. Definitely. One thing I like about myself is I’m always a better version of myself every year.  I’m always evolving and looking for ways to improve on whatever I’m good at doing. I think it’s important as a human being, not even as a creative person, to always seek to be better than what you’ve done before. Or just be a better version of yourself.”

And in terms of personal growth, how does that impact your artistry? As you develop through life, you’re learning lessons, you’re facing new challenges, and you’re trying to better yourself personally as well. Do you feel that feeds into your creativity and enhances it?

“Because talent can only take you so far from what I’ve realised. You could be talented but if you’re not consistent with it and you don’t put in actual energy and work into it then It’s not going to fly for a long time. It could fly at first, but at some point, you have to decide to be intentional about everything you are doing,  persistent and also consistent.

“So definitely, because I want to be and I am going to be one of the biggest artists in the world.  I know that it’s going to take a lot of work and I’m ready for that. I’m into that.  I’m ready to do what I need to do and work on what I need to work on to become a better person. So that my personal life doesn’t affect my music and my career.” 

So when you hear a beat, what is it that you are listening for or looking for that inspires you to write to it?

“Yeah, so most of the time, when I listen to beats it’s the emotion it brings out on me. Like how does this beat make me feel? Because one thing I’ve come to understand when it comes to music is people don’t need to understand what you’re talking about.  But what emotions can you evoke from them when they listen to music? Are they happy? Are they sad? Does it make them sit down and think, does it make them want to jump up and stand and start dancing? So I like to make music that evokes emotions. Even if somebody doesn’t understand my language or what I’m talking about they can still gravitate towards it. 

“I think that’s the beauty of music, the fact that you don’t need to understand it. For example, the Amapiano sound is so big, but a lot of people, apart from people from South Africa, don’t know what they’re talking about. It’s just the energy is so strong in that music that it connects with people. So when I listen to the sound or instrumental I think how does this make me feel? Or how do I think this sound will make other people feel then I just try to channel my energy towards them.”

Now, music from the continent is having a major moment in establishing and settling into the global landscape for music as a dominant force. How does it feel to be such an instrumental part of this moment?

“I’d say it’s a big blessing. It’s very humbling and it’s very motivating at the same time because I remember when I was just a spectator, just observing from the sidelines and seeing people doing great things. Now, to be pushing our sound to the world is a wonderful feeling and I don’t take it for granted. Over time I’ve come to realise how important it is. Perhaps at some points, I wasn’t gassed by it. But right now I am because I’ve seen that oh, this is a very, very big deal. My dreams are coming to life in real-time. So I don’t take that for granted at all. It’s a big blessing.”

And with you being such a focal point in modern music culture, you also have a very large social media following. How do you engage with social media?

“Okay, so I’ll be honest, before now, I have not been into social media personally. My team is always on my case like, Yo, you need to post this or that because naturally, I’m not a social media person. If I wasn’t doing music I most likely wouldn’t be on social media. But I understand how important social media is, especially when it comes to actually pushing a new sound. So I’ve come to learn and understand that, and I’m also improving on that and also looking for ways to better communicate through social media, and everything is falling into place. So I’m more invested in social media.

“I’ve tried to become more open and more honest in my interaction with my fans in general. It feels good too. Because you know it’s natural not to be happy all the time. So imagine I’m going through a phase and then I opened my DMs and somebody has sent me a message saying, Oh, this music is so amazing, I’m coming out of depression and your music makes me happy. That’s one of the biggest blessings. I might be doing something just because I love doing it and it’s positively affecting other people’s lives. That is an encouragement for me to keep doing what I’m doing. “

Love that! So let’s talk about the album now. How long did it take? When did you start recording it? Is this something that you’ve sat with for quite a while or is it fresh material? 

“I’m so excited about this album because there’s a major change and improvement in my sound. Because like I said, I always tried to make sure I do better than I did the last time. So this is such a beautiful album with a lot of amazing features on it. I’ve been working on this album for a year plus, I remember, when I first made the album, I was always adjusting. I am the sort of person who keeps on recording. So during the process, I was like, Okay, I’ll just swap this song or I should redo that song and stuff like that. I’m just at a good point with it now. When the album was ready, it felt complete to me, and I was just so excited. I couldn’t wait for people to receive it because it’s a beautiful body of work.

“I spoke about a lot of things. A lot more personal stuff than I normally do. With the last album, I was just really focused on love and the idea of love. This album goes beyond love. I’m talking about real-life stuff. That is another reason why it’s a special album to me and I was so confident this album is going to do a mazza. My favourite song on the album has to be  “On Tour.” That’s a special song, the song is undeniable. Nobody can come out and say oh this song is not great. Even if Michael Jackson told me it’s not a great song I will not believe him. I genuinely love the song and I know it will do a madness.” 

What life experiences have you drawn from in the last year to create this project?

“Last year was a crazy year for me, mentally and emotionally, to be honest, but it led to a lot of introspection. I’ve got to see things from a clearer perspective. You know sometimes you understand things better when you’re in a low place, you see the signals around you. You have to become more self-aware. And when you’re more self-aware that’s when I think you make the best kind of personal music.

“So yeah I think the last year helped me become more self-aware which influenced the final music I put on the album. The album feels personal and that’s why I named it Body and Soul because that’s where this music comes from.”

What is the one main thing that you would want a listener to take away or feel from the album? 

“Okay, so one thing I would love somebody or anybody that listens to take away from the album is that it is okay to be yourself. In this era of social media, everybody always thinks life has to be perfect. They have to be picture-perfect and that’s unrealistic. I see a lot of young people or people, in general, putting pressure on themselves because they feel like they aren’t the Instagram standards. But those standards are not real. Even the people giving you those standards are not following those standards, it just appears like they have a certain kind of life.

“I think what I want people to take away from this album is that it’s okay to be normal, it’s okay to be yourself. That’s just it. I also think that positivity is important. There is so much negativity and fakeness in the world. Be real, be original, and be honest about who you are. I feel like the reason why people are always trying to be some certain kind of way in life is because of the need for validation. But the only validation you need is validation from yourself. If you are okay and comfortable with being by yourself and comfortable being yourself, then the world is yours.”

What’s in your playlist right now?

“So apart from my unreleased music, I listen to a lot of underground music but I feel like there’s a lot to learn from it. Artists on the come up, they make the most authentic music because, at that point, there’s no pressure to make a hit song. They’re just doing what feels natural to them. So I do enjoy listening to upcoming or emerging artists.

“So the first song is called ‘Highlife’ by an artist named Wizard Chan. He’s Nigerian and he makes amazing music and it’s different.

“Then another song I’m listening to is ‘Gateway Drug’ by Rukmani. She sounds so confident so that’s why I love that song.

“Then this song titled ‘Ji’ is by this artist called An Endless Ocean. This is a gospel song. But when I wake up in the morning, that’s one of the first songs I listen to. It makes me feel good. And Ji is a Yoruba word that means wake up. So I listen to it when I wake up. So there are two more songs. I like this one too.

“So I’m not too sure where this artist is from, I think the UK. His name is JayO and the song is ’22’.

“This next one is not an underground song, but it gets me turned up. Lil Uzi Vert’s ‘Just Wanna Rock’. When I’m working out I like to listen to that song because it gets me hyped up. So that’s just like a summary of what I listened to right now.”

 Who would your dream collaboration be with?

“The Weeknd, Drake, Post Malone. I feel like we’re going to make wonderful music. Wonderful. Global music. If it happens no not if, when that happens I’ll probably cry……Well, I don’t know about crying, does it count your eyes are filled up with water?”

Body and Soul is available now on all digital streaming platforms.