Joyce Wrice is one of the most promising young R&B artists that this new generation has to offer. Her ability to incorporate 90’s and early 2000’s R&B music into her sound really piqued our interest especially when she flipped Jon B’s classic single “They Don’t Know” for her latest single “So So Sick”. Joyce recently released her debut album “Overgrown” which was executive produced by GRAMMY award winning producer D’Mile. YouKnowIGotSoul had a chance to speak to the singer about her early grind as an artist, linking up with SiR for her EP and of course the new album she just released. We also discussed her incorporating Japanese culture in her music as well her influences such as Mariah Carey, Tamia and Aaliyah.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about what went into putting your new album “Overgrown” together. It sounds nostalgic and fresh at the same time.
Joyce Wrice: What went into putting this together was me living life, having experiences and getting my heart broken. It was about taking risks and the process was so much fun. I’m so grateful to have D’Mile executive produce the album. I worked with so many great writers and really just take pages out of my journal and create songs from it.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Albums aren’t what they used to be because the attention spans are shorter, but your project worked really well because of the track sequencing. What artists were you studying at the time when you were creating this project?
Joyce Wrice: I really love Aaliyah, Brandy and Toni Braxton. I was studying a lot of their music as well as Missy Elliott and Mariah Carey. Growing up I loved Mariah Carey and I loved how she incorporated rappers onto her songs, so I really wanted to do that for this album especially because when I first started making music and when I moved to LA, I was working with a lot of rappers at the time like Dom Kennedy. To be able to incorporate that into this album is such a dream come true and a lot of the collaborations on this album happened so organically. I think sometimes artists sign record deals not only to have funding, but to also collaborate with certain artists on that label. For me though, a lot of the collaborations were just friends working with each other and hopping on board to something that they believe in as well.
YouKnowIGotSoul: When I listened to your album, it reminded me of Amerie’s “All I Have” and Teedra Moses “Complex Simplicity”. Your tone also really reminds me of Tamia’s.
Joyce Wrice: Tamia’s first album is one of my favorites. Tamia was one of the first artists that I was exposed to as a child, so that makes a lot of sense. I’m so happy that I was blessed to witness those artists as a kid.
YouKnowIGotSoul: When did D’Mile get involved in the process of creating this album?
Joyce Wrice: My A&R Eddie Fourcell linked me with D’Mile. We were working on my album at the time and I had worked with a few producers before D’Mile, but really he has been there from the beginning. When I started making songs with him, the first strong song we made was “On One”. I was like “This is the energy that I’m trying to bring”. It really set the tone for what type of album that I wanted to put together.
YouKnowIGotSoul: What were those conversations like in the studio with D’Mile? Was it more of a collaborative effort on this project or did he guide you throughout the process?
Joyce Wrice: It was all of that. It was me coming into the studio, telling him how I was feeling and how I wanted to make a record around it. It was me and Eddie bringing reference tracks and songs that are similar to what I’m trying to make. It was also us having written the songs, but then D’Mile guiding me on the vocal production side and how I should do different harmonies and adlibs. He was just giving suggestions on things like that. It was very collaborative and the beautiful thing about D’Mile is he’s very musical. He’s not just a producer, he can do it all. The song with Lucky Daye on the album, you hear vocals in the beginning. That’s all D’Mile. People probably think it’s Lucky, but it’s D’Mile. What’s so fascinating about D’Mile is that he’s like a Quincy Jones. He’s one of those creatives that can do it all. It’s been an honor to work with him. I thank Eddie for linking me up with him.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Take me through your journey as an artist. Did it take you a long time to find your voice?
Joyce Wrice: Definitely. I grew up just loving music and singing, but I never wrote my own songs. Then I did YouTube covers and I was covering other people’s music and putting my own twist to it. Then I moved to LA and I was connected with rappers and doing hooks for them. I decided then I wanted to be my own artist and put out my own projects. That’s when I was a bit stuck because I didn’t know what stories I wanted to tell. I didn’t know what to do and fortunately I was able to work with a producer by the name of Mndsgn. I was able to write songs with SiR and that’s how I put my first EP “Stay Around” out. Working with them taught me a lot about making music, telling my story and finding my voice. I got a feel for who I am.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I believe Andre Harris also played a part in your early developments?
Joyce Wrice: No he didn’t. I’m a huge fan of Dre & Vidal and SiR was working very closely with him. I actually found out about SiR through the producer D.K. the Punisher and he worked very closely with Andre.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I was reading a story about how you got connected to D.K. the Punisher by searching up writing credits on a Justin Bieber song online. That sounds like something we’d do. *Laughs*
Joyce Wrice: “All The Matters” was so good, so I had to find out who wrote and produced that because I needed it. I found out D.K. the Punisher had produced it, so I DMed him on Twitter and that’s how I got connected with him and SiR.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You’re doing a lot of choreography in your music video. We don’t really see that type of dancing anymore. Is that something that you wanted to bring back?
Joyce Wrice: Yeah, I grew up dancing when I was in junior high school. I loved learning choreography and I’m a big music lover. I also grew up loving Aaliyah, Missy Elliott, Usher and Mariah Carey. They had full on productions when they performed and when they did music videos. I just knew I had to do the same for my own thing. I was able to find a great choreographer and dancers to hop on board. It’s just me really being able to execute the vision that I have for the records that I make and the performing artist that I want to be.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I love that you’re also incorporating some of your Japanese culture on the remix of “That’s On You” and you also speak Japanese in the “So So Sick” music video. I read that you want to do a Japanese project at some point.
Joyce Wrice: Yeah, I would love to make more Japanese songs and possibly make a whole project where I’m incorporating Japanese into my music. I would love to collaborate with other Japanese artists or just other artists that speak different languages. I think it’d be great to come together and show our culture.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I know people overseas love nostalgic R&B. Have you experienced that love from people in Asia and Europe yet?
Joyce Wrice: Overseas fans were the first to show me love and book me. I toured Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand a year after I put my first EP out. That was so wild to me. Being a new artist, those parts of the world loved what I do without needing validation that it was cool. I feel like sometimes with America, people like to hop on the bandwagon and that’s really cool that other countries love what they love and they’ll support it regardless.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Did you ever feel pressured during the process of this album to make trendy music? This album just sounds like something you wanted to make rather than looking at what’s popular.
Joyce Wrice: I’ve always been the type of person to want to do what I truly want to do. I don’t like to do something just because that’s what the people want or if it’s going to get me to where I want to be. I don’t like that, but I do get that when you’re involved in the business, you have to play the game. I create my own rules though, so that’s what I’m really focused on. I’m not compromising my values and my happiness. I make sure that I stay true to who I am.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Take me through the conversation that you had with your parents when you told them you wanted to pursue a music because that’s not a regular job.
Joyce Wrice: Man, when I was picking what colleges I wanted to got, I really wanted to go to a music school like Berkley. My mom was so set on me going to a particular university because it’s based on Buddhist philosophies. I grew up practicing Buddhism so I was open to it, but I knew deep down that I wanted to go to a music school. I wanted to make my mom happy and I wasn’t paying for the college, they were. I just decided “Let me go to this university”. It was in Orange Country and that’s only one hour away from LA, so I was like “I’ll figure something out”. They had also told me that singing and pursuing music was a hobby, so I just gave up and went to school. When I was in that university though, I would perform and show my love for music on campus all the time. My classmates would always encourage me to follow my dreams and live a life of no regret. I knew that if I was on my death bed, I would be so upset at myself for not following my heart. When I graduated college, I was like “I’m a grown ass woman now and I’m going to go LA. I don’t have a car or job. I have this degree. I don’t know how I’m going to make it work, but I’m going to make it work and go after what I love doing”. I moved here and my parents were not excited, but they still supported me in the way they knew how to support me, which wasn’t much. *Laughs* They did their best and I just had to show actual proof. It motivated me to have to win even more because I made the decision. When I moved here, it was really hard. I found a restaurant job that was so far from where I lived and they would always send me home early because there were no customers. I didn’t have a car, so I took the train and the bus. The public transportation wasn’t reliable nor was it convenient, so it was six hours of commuting. It was really hard, but through my Buddhist practice of chanting and manifesting my goals no matter what, that really helped me build the life condition to keep fighting and take action. It was about meeting people and working hard to create as much opportunity as possible. That’s how I’m able to be here and now my parents are like “Send me everything that you’re doing!”. They’re so supportive and happy. For a while, I was really disappointed and bummed that they had this mentality that pursuing music was a hobby, but I really had to check myself and understand that they only know what they know. Pursuing music is very tough and it’s a competitive industry. The biggest worry for them is if it didn’t work out. Once I realized their worry was because they love me and they don’t want to see me struggle, I had to learn to take care of myself even when shit hits the fan. Once I was able to assure them that I was going to be okay and I would have a backup plan while I was figuring it out and I wouldn’t ask them for money, I think they realized it would be okay. Now my dad wants to open up a restaurant and my mom wants to make clothes. They’re just doing the things that they want to do and me following my dreams has inspired them to do that. I get where that worry comes from, but I don’t think it’s healthy. I think as parents, we need to help our children develop their creative side and express themselves in however way that they can. I think true happiness is not giving up.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I know your dad is a huge R&B fan and he’s one of the reasons why you love R&B, so does he like your music now?
Joyce Wrice: He does! In the beginning, he was like “This is cool” and then when I played him songs from the album, he was like “This is quality music!”. My parents are really tough to please and impress. For them to say that they enjoy it makes me very happy.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Anything you’d like to add?
Joyce Wrice: The album is out. I’m working on another music video and I’m working on some memoribilia for this project. I’m just really excited and grateful to do what I’mm doing. I look forward to making more music with amazing artists and I hope that I can really break barriers within this industry.
photo credit: Logan Williamson and Breyona Holt