How We Get the Job Done: Joy Crookes

Joy Crookes is only 20 but her sound feels older and richer. The Bangladeshi-Irish South Londoner has often been compared to Amy Winehouse, but Crookes denies it: “I don’t want to go around thinking I’m the shit.” And yet, the two singers have undeniable similarities — depth, texture, and a soul that seems to echo through generations.

Crookes grew up listening to Nina Simone (she tries to live by Simone's words, “freedom is no fear”), Nellie Furtado, Sarah Vaughan, and old roots reggae. She's set to release her EP this month and spoke to us about compliments that are ‘too big’, writer's block, and London's best South Asian food.

How did you get into music?

I got into music just because I loved it, before I even knew music was on the cards, before I knew you could make a job out of it. It wasn’t a career option that was spoken about in my house. Then one day, there wasn’t much to do, so I picked up an instrument. I eventually started to play the piano and I taught myself how to play the guitar from online diagrams. It made sense to do it because it was simply a fun hobby.

My dad especially loves music but when I used to watch MTV, I didn’t see anyone from a South Asian background doing it. All I saw was Beyoncé and Eminem and I didn’t even know what BRIT School was. I started to have singing lessons at Sylvia Young Theatre School when I was 14 and it began from there.

Who did you grow up listening to?

Everyone from Nellie Furtado to old roots reggae to Sarah Vaughan and Nina Simone. I was always taken aback by Nina’s performances. They seemed very free, especi

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