It’s universally acknowledged by man that the world is full of beautiful girls that can sing their asses off. while it does take a lot to stand out in today’s crowded market, the adorable half-Japanese, half African American vocalist, Joyce Wrice, is hard to miss
You can always tell a singer that truly studies her craft and Joyce is definitely one of these singers. She first appeared on the scene performing a string of RnB covers via YouTube and SoundCloud. Proving her love for singing runs deep, she says, “I love the voice as an instrument so much, that’s why I’m so fascinated by artists like Brandi and Anita Baker – people who just do these most amazing runs.”
Viper’s interview with Joyce takes place in her car following an afternoon spent fantasy dog shopping at her favourite location, the dog adoption centre, Bark N’s Bitches. Situated on fashionable Fairfax Avenue, the trendy site of Odd Future, HUF and Supreme’s stores, this is where she comes to be reminded of her dog back home in Chula Vista, CA, a rottweiler called Takiyama. “We call her Taki for short. My dad rescued her in Nevada when she was two, she’s the sweetest big baby ever! She’s very particular about other dogs and isn’t friendly with them, but she’s so loving and affectionate with human beings. I wish I could keep her in LA with me but having a dog is a lot of responsibility.” Luckily thanks to Bark N’ Bitches she has many surrogates in Los Angeles, including her favourite Electra. “She’s the sweetest pit bull ever, so if you go to Bark N’ Bitches make sure you ask for her. She’s a sassy dog.” When Viper asks how often she visits she laughs, “Too often! I do it a lot, well I do it at least once a week, for maybe two hours.” She laughs again, “It’s my therapy and also I go there in my running clothes so I can get my exercise and be with her at the same time, so we’re both having a great exchange! She makes me smile and I can go about my day feeling real awesome.”
Joyce has been steadily building a name for herself in the Internet community for years, since she was still at high school in San Diego recording YouTube covers with her friend Ariel. “As much as I have a lot of stuff going on in the real world, on the Internet there’s this scene where you meet a lot of people and just make it happen. I was just on the computer, like obsessing over the LA music scene, and what was going on in New York too.” This obsession soon began to pay off, especially when she moved to LA and was able to interact with people in the industry.
The artists that work with and support Joyce are testament to what an immense talent she is. “I was introduced to Polyester, who produced a lot of stuff with Dom Kennedy, then he and I started working together at Truth Studios. From there I was introduced to Dom, then being with Dom I was introduced to THC and Iman Omari was helping me write a song at one point. From there people were like, ‘If you need a vocalist ask Joyce’. Then when I came out here… I just love going to shows and meeting people. It happened to work out to where I met Mndsgn, then Knxwledge and my friend Kay Franklin, then meeting A$AP P.” The meeting with A$AP P [on the Boards] was especially fortuitous as it lead to one of her most well known songs. She agrees, “It was ‘Take It Easy’ that kind of exposed more to people on the East Coast, thanks to A$AP P – love him to death.”
As much as she’s been fortunate with the artists she’s worked with, it’s no coincidence they want her on their tracks. Joyce’s voice is effortless and ethereal, so much so that she’s had some very favourable comparisons. “I was looking at some comments and I overheard some people at Mndsgn’s birthday party – people thought my ‘Good Morning’ track was Aaliyah, like a lot of people thought he just took Aaliyah’s vocals and did it over. I feel like that’s an honour.” It is something she’s worked on though, “When I did covers I realised that I do a great job of singing other people’s songs, but when I started working with Poly[ester] and doing my own shit I was just like ‘Ugh this doesn’t sound too good.’ So for a while when I first moved to LA, I really had to figure out what complimented production, like what compliments my voice. And I’m finally, slowly, really understanding and getting to that point, so I’m really happy to see and feel that progression.”
Starting off by singing covers can produce it’s own problems though, and we ask if there’s ever been a time she felt it interfered with her unique style. “I don’t think I ended up in that route too much, it was more like, OK, change it up a bit, do different runs, not Brandi runs so much. Or come up with different melodies not the same ones that other people are doing. Now it’s fun, I feel more comfortable freestyling, then from there putting it all together. I feel proud too. It’s nice to be able to do something and then people like it and that’s your original craft.”
Joyce’s nineties RnB influences are apparent though, and the video for her gorgeous slow jam ‘Ain’t No Need’ solidifies this, giving us Saved by the Bell graphics and VHS footage. “When I started to take beats off SoundCloud and BandCamp, I would just do whatever felt right and I noticed this pattern of mostly nineties RnB stuff. So when I did ‘Ain’t No Need’ with Mndsgn, Alima [Jennings, who directed and produced the video] came up with the cool idea to do a VHS video so she brought her eighties VHS camera, like some real shit, we filmed it and it came out really well.”
As much as the nostalgic sound Joyce produces is one of her strengths, it’s not something she wants to rely on. “I think some of the material I come out with will sound like it’s a sort of nineties feel but I don’t want it to sound like I’m just copying, or replicating, you know what I mean? I want to add something new and something refreshing.” A lot of that comes from the producers Joyce works with, “That’s what’s great about how I found Mndsgn and Jamma Dee, I guess we really work well together to bring a new feel to it.”
This is an extract of an article from the SS16 issue of Viper. Buy the SS16 issue of Viper Magazine with Novelist on the cover via BigCartel.