The London-based, Irish-Bangladeshi singer is repping South Asian kids in the creative industries – she takes our Dazed 100 pop quiz
“I want to be part of a change that sees the creative industries become more accessible for young South Asian kids in the UK,” Joy Crookes told Dazed after joining this year’s Dazed 100 list. It’s something that the soulful singer weaves into all of her work. At this year’s BRIT Awards, the Irish-Bangladeshi Londoner wore a yellow lehenga to represent British South Asian people who are so often excluded from those ceremonies. Crookes’s idea for the Dazed 100 fund takes this idea further – she wants to start a creative scholarship for young people of South Asian heritage in the UK, to help them fulfil a creative project start to finish while being mentored by other South Asians within the creative community.
Here, the musician takes the Dazed 100 pop quiz, answering a series of quick-fire questions about how music can be a space to have difficult conversations, her secret talent of Irish dancing, and her love of Kerrygold butter. Get to know Joy Crookes below, and head here to vote for her idea.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
Joy Crookes: A boy.
What clique were you in in high school?
Joy Crookes: Pearl Murphy and Joy Crookes. That was the clique. Is it a clique if it was only two of us?
Who gave you your first break?
Joy Crookes: Probably getting on to the platform Colors Berlin. They are an incredible channel for up-and-coming musicians to show off what they do to a large audience. I know mine did well because I was called ‘Joy from Colors’ for about a year after it.
Why do you do what you do?
Joy Crookes: Because sometimes I think it’s important for people to hear the things they don’t want to. Music is an amazing way of breaking boundaries and having conversations about topics that are hard to navigate in conversation.
What issues are you most passionate about?
Joy Crookes: The misuse of power in general, I get very passionate/angry about.
Who do you think is making real change in the world?
Joy Crookes: Greta Thunberg.
If you were in charge for a day, what law would you invent?
Joy Crookes: I'd invent a law that protected the NHS from being privatised.
What does community mean to you?
Joy Crookes: Community is family. I’d like to continue to lift mine if I can.
“Sometimes I think it’s important for people to hear the things they don’t want to. Music is an amazing way of breaking boundaries and having conversations about topics that are hard to navigate in conversation” – Joy Crookes
How does your community inspire your creativity?
Joy Crookes: It’s my genetic fabric. It inspires the way I think, speak, walk, and talk. I guess that means subconsciously it affects my creativity on every level, i.e. growing up half-Irish, I’ve always found it difficult to not tell the truth in the stories in my songs. Irish people are a) very, very honest, and b) will always say what you may not want to hear. Storytelling is in our blood.
Explain your Dazed 100 grant idea in one sentence?
Joy Crookes: I want to lift young South Asian people and provide them with opportunities and creative mentorship. I believe we are one of the least visible minorities in creative industries and that needs to change.
Why should people support your idea?
Joy Crookes: It’s an idea that will hopefully have a really positive and long-term effect on people. I’m confident that once it's up and running we’ll be able to find ways of sustaining the programme, so there’s really no limit to the number of people that could benefit. I want this programme to be a part of the change I want to see in the representation of South Asian people in the creative industries. I want this to be part of a much bigger picture.
When do you feel most creative?
Joy Crookes: When I’m not overthinking.
How do you get over an artistic block?
Joy Crookes: 14 meltdowns, at least three existential crises, perspective, reading books, and panic.
Name three things that inspire you?
Joy Crookes: Conversations with people from all walks of life. Living – like, properly living – my life. And anything Phoebe Waller-Bridge touches.
What’s the best concert you’ve ever seen?
Joy Crookes: Either Sinéad O’Connor at Roundhouse, or the Streets at Brixton Academy.
“I have to always be working towards something, big or small” – Joy Crookes
If you could own one piece of art, what would it be?
Joy Crookes: A self-portrait by Frida Kahlo.
What’s the last thing you made?
Joy Crookes: A song called “Easy”, about my man.
What’s a lesson that you learned the hard way?
Joy Crookes: I definitely learned how to say ‘no’ the hard way. I think I’ve gone along with things to keep people happy and not listened to my instincts, which ends badly.
Which fictional character do you most identify with?
Joy Crookes: Fleabag.
What’s your secret talent?
Joy Crookes: I’m a grade ten Irish dancer!
Joy Crookes: TikTok.
Joy Crookes: Rice cakes with butter (Kerrygold everyday).
What keeps you motivated?
Joy Crookes: Exercise and routine. I have to always be working towards something, big or small.
Which film do you never get bored of?
Joy Crookes: The Fifth Element.
“Growing up half-Irish, I’ve always found it difficult to not tell the truth in the stories in my songs. Irish people are a) very, very honest, and b) will always say what you may not want to hear” – Joy Crookes
What song is stuck in your head right now?
Joy Crookes: My new one, called “Easy”!
What are you embarrassed to admit?
Joy Crookes: That I have a habit of pronouncing things wrong.
What did you dream last night?
Joy Crookes: No idea. I’m a very deep sleeper.
What piece of clothing means the most to you?
Joy Crookes: My grandad’s jumper he used to always wear when he was alive.
What’s the last lie that you told?
Joy Crookes: “This lettuce is fine to eat.”
What advice would you give your past self?
Joy Crookes: To chill out. Stop overthinking and overworking yourself all the fecking time.
What’s your favourite slang phrase?
Joy Crookes: “I’M ON CRUD.”
What’s your ultimate guilty pleasure?
Joy Crookes: Babybels.
What will the world look like in 2050?
Joy Crookes: Hopefully, still round.
“I want to lift young South Asian people and provide them with opportunities and creative mentorship. I believe we are one of the least visible minorities in creative industries and that needs to change” – Joy Crookes
What’s a misconception people often have about you?
Joy Crookes: I think a lot of people think I’m stoosh when they first meet me, but a) I have really bad eyesight, so I have bitchy resting face, and b) I always have a lot going on in my head.
What book changed your life?
Joy Crookes: The Lowlands by Jhumpa Lahiri.
What song hits you the hardest?
Joy Crookes: Probably “Strange Fruit” by Billie Holiday.
Which living person do you most admire and why?
Joy Crookes: My godmother. She’s fostered over 19 children, and I’m convinced she is a real-life saint. Her name is Meinsheirsh (or, if you know her, Alala).
Vote for Joy Crookes’s idea on the 2020 Dazed 100 now.