One to watch: Aussie music wunderkind JOY

One to watch: Aussie music wunderkind JOY

She's only 17

Text: Yeong Sassall

Image: Positive Feedback

Sussan Mourad sat down with the classically trained songstress to discuss all things JOY

Brisbane based singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Olivia McCarthy, better known as JOY, is set to dominate in 2015. Having burst on the scene in 2014, Joy has already packed out sets at Laneway Festival and Field Day in 2015, toured with Flamingo, released a mini EP, Stone, and this month plays support for music sensation Tkay Maizda. Oh, and did we mention she’s only 17? 

You’re classically trained - can you tell us about your background in music?
I was a classical pianist as a kid and I had a little career peak when I was 12 or 13.  I went to a music school and was studying heaps of theory and  laying piano, and then I picked up the guitar and drums. Then I started fiddling around on my computer at school and started tracking all the instruments together and just kind of went for it.


And then you got into producing your own music as well? 
I got Ableton [a music software program] and then I was able to actually produce electronic music rather than just live performances. I literally just sat in my room for about a month and fiddled around and watched heaps of tutorials on YouTube!

Who or what would you say have been your biggest music influences?
I don’t want to sound too cliché, but I listen to a lot of old stuff. I’m really inspired by songwriting and soundscapes. I’m inspired by people who use a lot of layers like Bon Iver, Fleetwood Mac (songwriting-wise) and The Eagles. Also, Enya with her whole soundscape, that’s the [kind of] epic thing I want to be. 


What are you listening to at the moment? 
Oh my God, my iPod at the moment, don’t even go there! [laughs].  The other day I got on a plane and I turned my phone and it only had snare samples on there so I had to listen to 250 snare samples! Usually I’ve got demos on there. I’ve got some weird old classical stuff. I’ve got a bit of Drake too - everybody needs a bit of Drake.


After playing music just at home, now you’re performing in front of huge crowds. What's that like?

It’s an awesome feeling when people are vibing to your music or Snapchatting it. 

I probably need to rehearse my shows more because I’m so used to just sitting on my bed and pressing buttons. You kind of forget that people are actually watching and you have to be interesting. 


You’re about to tour with Tkay Maidza...
I’m a massive fan, she is the best girl ever. And it’s a very different scene because my stuff is more downtempo so it will be interesting to see [how it works out]. I’m going to try and adapt my set a little bit more to suit where we are playing and who we are playing to. And I’m also pretty good friends with UV Boi so I think it’s going to be a really fun tour. 

You’re only 17! How do you feel being so young in the music industry? 
I don’t think about it that much. I can’t imagine being older and doing it. Of course, everyone treats me like the little baby in the industry. But hopefully my career can be sustainable. It’s just one of those things – I can’t imagine myself going to uni or anything like that. 


Have there been any gigs you couldn’t play because you weren’t 18 yet?
Oh no, I just get escorted from my show! My first show in Sydney was at Good God. I wasn’t allowed into the venue until I went on stage. I walked in half an hour before going on stage and wasn’t even in show clothes yet, I was in jeans and a T-shirt and they pushed me on and were like, ‘You’re on!’ So I did the show and then literally jumped off stage while the last song was still going. Then security were like, “Yeah you’ve gotta leave!’  So I went and hung out the front with my mum!


Tkay Maidza + JOY + UV Boi tour dates:

Friday, April 17, 2015:  Good God Small Club - Sydney

Saturday, April 18, 2015: Woolly Mammoth - Brisbane

Friday, April 24, 2015: Northcote social club - Melbourne


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