From the streets of North London, the soulful, fun and talented, Juliyaa was born. With her debut release ‘Rhythm’, this UK talent has taken music to a different dimension with ‘rhythmic soul”. She’s already been nominated for the best new act in The Ghana UK-Based Achievement awards and continues to spread her music worldwide. Juliyaa talks to Flavour about her passion for life and music…
Music has been a big passion of yours since a young age…
Yes, since I was 7. I was bought up in a church environment and music was something that was around me all the time. My dad loves reggae, we’ve got a box full of vinyls. Every Sunday morning, my mum used to blast music. I’ve also got four sisters, my older sister is a music teacher, the other is in America and she’s got an interest too, it’s part of who I am.
Who’s inspired you?
I’d say Billy Holiday, Alicia Keys, Al Green, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder. Also a UK group, Uncle Jam, they were fantastic! Ms Dynamite too, she’s done so much for British music.
What’s the concept behind ‘Rhythmic Soul’?
When they put you in a genre box, I questioned where would I like to be? I thought I don’t sit in old soul, because I don’t really do old soul but I pay homage to soul. I’m not really R&B because I have a funk element to me, then I thought what defines me? It’s the rhythm! (laughs) I thought rhythmic soul! It just came together.
You can start a trend…
(laughs) yeah I’m going to try!
What was it like touring with Estelle and Heartless Crew?
It was fantastic! Touring as a teenager, opened my eyes to so many things. Seeing artists like Estelle back in the day, when she was doing her UK stuff was amazing. People like Heartless Crew, they’ve been in the game for so long. To see established artists who represent UK music is a real privilege.
Who would you love to collaborate with?
Alicia Keys is the first person who comes to mind, but on the other side of the stage it would be the late Nina Simone, I would’ve loved to have sung with her.
What was it like filming your debut video?
It was fun, fun, fun! We had so much jokes on set. The team, I just have to big them up, they did a fantastic job. We worked from 9am to 12 midnight and were so focused, but had so much fun. I had to throw M&M’s into the director’s mouth from afar (laughs) It was crazy.
Did you always know you wanted to be a singer?
Yeah, but I can’t describe it. If you wake up in the morning and you have a feeling deep inside you and that feeling doesn’t go, you know you’ve got to pursue that dream and I really think that’s what you are meant to do. When I was young my mum used to say ‘Juliyaa you are always singing!’ (laughs). I know that’s what I’m meant to be doing.
You’ve performed at a variety of venues including Camden Proud and The Station Sessions, how’s the experience been for you?
It’s been crazy! I love doing live shows, I urge anyone who has heard my music come to a live show and you’ll get what you pay for. I love performing with my amazing band, the guys are fantastic. Performing at these venues are so prestigious, really amazing. I’m performing at the Jazz Cafe on November 11th, I’m very excited.
What’s the best part about performing?
People vibing to my songs! I’m like oh my gosh they are singing along! (laughs) This is a song that I’ve been writing in my room, now I see someone in front of me singing my words, I’m like whaat?! That’s crazy! (laughs)
When is your album going to be released?
In 2012, before that I’m realising an EP in April/May 2012. So super excited, but before that you will be getting another single, so don’t worry.
Your mum was a gospel singer, would you consider doing a gospel album?
My music is much about life, love and relationships as it is about the gospel. I feel many of my songs are inspired by my relationship with God. I wouldn’t necessarily say I would do a gospel album, I don’t want to restrict myself. But who knows? You never know in the future, I might do a Christmas Carol album! (laughs)
Which artist should we look out for in the UK urban scene today?
My friend Michael Kiwanuka he’s absolutely amazing! I saw him live at Bush Hall Music, he was fantastic, he’s just been signed by Polydor and supported Adele on tour. He’s her main support act for UK- look him up, his voice is just real soul.
What are your fans like?
When I get positive feedback from fans, it’s really encouraging and I thank everyone who have ever said kind words and supported my music. I love that, keep on feeding back to me, tweeting, emailing, keep listening to my music!
What advice would you give upcoming artists?
If you’re passionate, pursue it and do things that’ll make the world a better place. Also, find good people who’ll support your dreams, no man is an island you can’t do it alone. It’s only through community and good people that will help you get through tough times. You’ve got a short life to live, you might as well do something great with it. One more thing, happiness is not a destination but a journey, my life is a continuous journey, whatever point I reach, that won’t be the point where I’ll start enjoying life, I’m enjoying the present because I’m alive today.
What have you got planned for the future?
More music, more rhythmic soul (laughs), banging live shows, just good vibe, let’s bring some joy and dancing back into music!
Follow Juliyaa on Twitter: @Juliyaamusic
By Jaskiran Mankoo