By the time Joyy L. was 14 years old, she was already composing her own music.
“I started playing music on the lap of my brother; he was a piano player,” Joyy said during an interview last week with Positively Smitten. “When I was 3 years old, I used to watch him play all day, every day.”
Her love for music hardly stopped there. She listened to songs in the car (her favorites were by greats like Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, and Mariah Carey), tried to teach herself melodies, and, at 14, found herself playing piano by ear.
“That’s when I started composing and writing my own music,” Joyy said. “Since then, I haven’t stopped.”
Yet Joyy, now 18, hadn’t always been on a path to becoming a singer-songwriter. In fact, her story begins with competitive sports.
At just two years old, Joyy began to play tennis. Before long, she was traveling to tournaments and competing among professionals.
“I always listened to ‘Eye of the Tiger’ before a match,” she said. “It makes you feel like you’re ready to fight for your life!”
Joyy played 6 hours a day, 5 days a week, and used weekends to travel to tournaments — all while still managing school.
“I felt I didn’t really have much of a life. I started not enjoying it as much as I used to.”
So Joyy turned to music, something she said was a source of inspiration for her, and something that made her feel happy. Music became an escape for then-16-year-old Joyy, a much-needed remedy for her mounting stress. As much as she loved the sport, Joyy said she realized her dwindling interest in tennis meant it was time for change.
“I told my dad, ‘Listen, I just can’t see myself playing for another 10 years,'” Joyy said. “He told me, ‘OK, if you want to pursue music over tennis, you have to stop tennis on a victory.'”
The deal was set: if Joyy won her next tennis match, she could pursue her dream. If not? Well, it didn’t much matter. She won.
Chasing a dream
With her family supporting her decision, Joyy began to transition from tennis to music. Though she was able to apply some of the lessons she learned as a tennis star to her music career — mostly, her relentless determination and focus — the two careers were quite different.
But Joyy didn’t mind. Instead, she did all she could to make her dream of becoming a singer her reality.
“I’m trying everything to get where I want to go. I always put my all into my music,” she said.
To start, Joyy needed a chance of scenery from Boca Raton, Fla., where she and her family had been living. So the teen ventured further south to Miami. It was there that she met rapper, songwriter, and Grammy-winning producer Timbaland, who helped her develop her musical sound. (No big deal, right?)
From there, she partnered with Josh Xantus, an R&B singer introduced to the music industry through legendary Stevie Wonder, and Music Man Ty, both of whom helped produce her upcoming album.
“I was traveling, spending two weeks in NY and then Miami, back and forth, for 4 or 5 months, to do the whole album,” Joyy said. “It’s a very fun album and goes through a lot of different subjects.”
Most of the songs Joyy creates are based off of the experiences she’s had and what she’s watched others go through. One song, a ballad called “Runaway,” deals with the complicated feelings of yearning to escape life’s problems.
“There are always times when you feel like you want to get out of this world. Sometimes you just want to run away from all of these things that are happening,” she said. “I understand — I have these feelings, too — but I don’t want people to run away. I want them to help them find another way to deal.”
Another song, called “You’re the Only One,” was written following the tragic deaths of her cousin and her grandfather in the same month.
“The song I wrote was for the people out there who have experienced a lot of loss,” Joyy said. “It still brings tears to my eyes every time I sing it.”
Joyy’s first album also includes upbeat songs, like her first single, “Lies” — a fun, pop tune that could rival artists like Ke$ha and Katy Perry (check it out below).
“I feel it’s a song a lot of people can relate to. In the song, I’m basically [telling someone] I’m not going to waste my time on your love — not when all you’re saying is lies,” she said. “There’s things I want to accomplish myself, and I’m not going to depend on you. I’m going to do things my own.”
On being a role model
The message of “Lies,” which Joyy has called “empowering,” goes hand in hand with her overall goal: to be a role model. She said she’d like to use her musical success to motivate others like her.
“I just know what [many teens have] been through — I want to entertain them, but also be a role model for these kids. I want them to look up to me and be able to relate to me,” Joyy said. “Hopefully I can motivate them to become successful, too.”
If all goes well, being viewed as a role model will be easy: charity work is something Joyy said she’s passionate about.
As for young girls who dream big, but aren’t sure quite how to get there, Joyy had this to say: “Stay true to yourself. Find something that you like and find ways to become good at whatever you want to do. Be a dreamer, and keep aiming high. The higher you aim, the higher chance you have of achieving your dreams.”
- Introducing International Pop Star Joyy L | Debut Single “Lies” Now on Sound Cloud! (sandy-lo.com)
- Interview: Treasure Davis talks collaboration with Slick Rick ‘Someone New’, being a songwriter, and discovered by Mark Pitts (thenext2shine.com)
- Ladies We Love: Teen Pop Singer-Songwriter Joyy L. Encourages Girls to Follow Their Dreams (positively-smitten.com)