KST Connects with Joy Ike

At a time when digital music downloads and streaming video are staples among consumers, Joy Ike is turning on the radio and finding inspiration from independent films.

Ike, 25, of Pittsburgh is enjoying the overwhelming success of her current full-length album, “Good Morning” and will perform at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater’s inaugural SUNSTAR Women in Music Festival.

Ike shared with writer Michelle Massie & KST Connect some of her inspirations, influences and insights into how she creates her soulful sound.

Genre: Pop, Nu-jazz, Neo-soul

Current project: “Good Morning” (released June ’08)

Web site:

MM: When did you become interested in music, and who were some of your earlier influences?

JI: I guess I was always interested in music. I was always singing as a child but I had no idea that singing and playing the piano would become such a huge part of my life. I grew up in a little bit of a bubble and didn’t really have a chance to listen to anything but Christian contemporary music when I was growing up. But I do remember one year in high school when I religiously listened to B94. All I remember is belting that one song by No Doubt: “Don’t speak. I know what you’re thinking. And I don’t need your reasons. Don’t tell me cause it hurts!”

MM: Which artists are you listening to?

JI: Sometimes I binge-buy music but lately I’ve just been overwhelmed by how much music is out there. So I’ve been sticking with the radio – WYEP specifically. Brooke Waggoner is always in my CD player though.

MM: What inspires you?

JI: People and stories. My best songs come from personal experiences or others’ experiences.

I just finished writing a song inspired by Slumdog Millionaire. That movie was so beautiful that I had to watch it twice. And it took two visits to the theater to start and complete the song.

MM: What is the importance of recognizing women in music?

JI: I think there are so many talented women in music who sometimes don’t get the same recognition as male artists.

MM: What have you learned as a working artist that has helped you in your career?

JI: Nothing is more important than connecting with your audience and maintaining relationships.

It’s been very rewarding to build a strong fanbase in Pittsburgh—to know faces at shows and keep in touch with people via Facebook and MySpace. It means a lot to me that people care to know more about me than just my music.

MM: How important is it that you write your own material?

JI: This is so important to me. In fact, I’m pretty stingy with my lyrics and have a hard time collaborating with people for this reason! If I can’t write my own music and lyrics, I feel like I can’t put my heart and soul into performing a song. Every song I write is personal…even if it’s not specifically about me.

MM: How would you describe your creative process?

JI: I usually wait to be inspired. I know a lot of musicians who are consistently writing new music. But as for me, I probably only write 8 songs a year. Songs don’t come that easy and it probably takes 4-8 weeks for me to come up with a solid piece. And most times writing and arranging the music is 95 percent of the “problem.” I always do that first because it takes more time, and is a little bit harder for me. Lyrics come last and easiest.

MM: Any new projects on the horizon? Can you tell KST Connect about it?  What can your fans look forward to from you in the future?

JI: “Good Morning” has only been out for 8 months and I think it’s still got a lot of shelf-life left. I probably won’t be putting out another full-length album until 2010. So for the time being, I think I just want to work harder at having better live shows and building a wider audience.

MM: What would you like your legacy to be?

JI: I want to be remembered as someone who spoke honestly and truthfully about the world. I hope my music paints pictures of broken people who are healed by the grace of God and the love we extend towards each other.

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