Interview: Allysha Joy on musical metaphors, beautiful people, and Melbourne jazz & soul
With the release of her new EP Light It Again on First Word Records, we caught up with member of the 30/70 collective - Allysha Joy...
The lead single and EP title track ‘Light It Again’ is about mental health and “the cycle of addiction and pain, the coping mechanisms that hold us back from reaching our true potential”, how did you approach creatively exploring this theme?
There are a lot of metaphors in this song and in a lot of my music. I think, for me, exploring a topic like mental health, one that is experienced by every one of us in such different ways, means that I intentionally want to create space in the lyrics for interpretation. I want the songs to speak to the listener in a way that enables them to take whatever meaning best applies to their life and hopefully inspire some positive change, healing, or subconscious understanding. Although this song is about a very personal and deeply challenging time within my own mental health journey, I hope that it can speak to whatever it is that you as the listener are going through and bring about something beautiful in you.
The whole EP touches on love, shame, mental health, grief & spirituality, all themes particularly relevant in our post-Covid world, so did you draw on these musical discussion points at a time when you particularly felt they needed to be expressed?
I think these themes are present within our lives all the time, and deserve our attention all the time! It’s kind of bittersweet, that this past year has created space and time for so many of us to reflect on our purpose and our relationships with spirituality, loneliness, and grief. These are topics that, as a sentimental creative, I’m in touch with all of the time, I feel that they are really significant parts of being human and our connection to each other.
Having worked with producer, engineer, and double Grammy nominee Clever Austin, along with an all-star set of Melbourne artists, what do you enjoy about the collaborative process?
Oh I feel so blessed to have worked (and am continuing to work) with the 30/70 collective in a collaborative and exploratory way, for more than five years. It has really taught me how to feel safe in the collaborative process. I feel so grateful to have worked with Clever Austin on this project too, to have been able to push my boundaries and level of comfortability as a musician, producer, engineer and songwriter, and to learn how to express myself more authentically. I absolutely LOVED being in the studio with Pez (Clever Austin) and watching his process, he is an incredible artist and producer and I learnt so much!
As part of this 30/70 collective, a neo-soul and jazz-funk outfit from Melbourne - what is the emerging soul scene like there and who else would you like to work with?
I am really interested to see what emerges post-Covid lockdown in Melbourne - I think there are so many incredible musicians here that are always prepared to push the boundaries. The scene is so supportive of new and interesting collaborative projects, so yeah there will be a lot that comes out of this time I think. At the moment I am most excited to work with my friends again! And continue to build on some really beautiful and powerful musical relationships, with people like Yelderbert, Close Counters, Elle Shimada, Tiana Khasi, Rara Zulu and the Karate Boogaloo boys.
By performing on the live circuit alongside the likes of Sampa the Great, Ezra Collective, and Children of Zeus, what have you learned about gigging through these experiences?
I think one of the most valuable experiences I have learned from touring is that good people make great touring! I feel that I am at a point now, in making music, that I just want to be surrounded by supportive teams, touring with beautiful people that want to elevate each other and are in it for the music! My focus is on making meaningful music, with good people, and to play for audiences that are going to really listen - ready to go on that journey with me to some deeper place within.
As a radio and DJ currently hosting two regular radio shows, on Worldwide FM and Reform Radio in Manchester, what can listeners expect from your shows and how does the Manchester scene compare to your home city?
On both shows I really try to present what's happening in the soul and jazz scene of Melbourne music, on Worldwide FM that will most often include an interview with some local legend! I love being able to use these shows as a platform to share what's going on here in Melbourne and I feel really blessed to have both of those shows and to share the music of such an incredible scene!
Finally, what does the word ‘groove’ mean to you?
Mmmm, Horatio Luna and Ziggy Zeitgeist taught me everything I know about groove! And I'm still learning. For me it's just about really listening, it's about listening and then placing yourself intentionally in that pocket, some place that feels real good and then continuing to tune into that place and the people around you.
30/70 has taught me so much about groove, just the way the band and I have built up a connection through years of learning how to listen to each other, knowing where we are all feeling the rhythm and tuning in to the subtleties of it all. That’s groove. It’s all a little abstract at first but you know it when you feel it, for sure! Damn that's a nice question.
Stream or purchase the EP Light It Again here.