By Keshia Smith
The goal of many artists, writers, filmmakers, and musicians is simply to tell the truth… about life, love, trials and triumphs, and even faith. With Ukulele in hand, Joy Ike is an artist striving to do just that, without labels or expectations. Currently based out of Pittsburgh, PA, Ike first started playing music seriously after graduating from college. Her typical music venue was coffeehouses, farmers markets, and art festivals. She has a musical style often compared to Corinne Bailey Rae, Fiona Apple, and India Aire. In the mist of working on her third studio album and touring the country, Ike caught up with B.L.O.G. Magazine to talk about what she has been working on and offer a little insight on the life of an artist of the Christian faith.
Q: First off, can you tell be a little bit about your background as an artist or musician?
A: I’d like to think music found me. Though I’ve always loved it, I never thought I would make a career out of it. But more and more opportunities kept opening up…and I felt very strongly about heavily devoting my time to it. Right now I am working on a new album that will hopefully be released before the end of the year. People can follow the process through my website www.joyike.com
Q: You play the ukulele. That’s a pretty unique instrument. What made you decide to start playing that instrument in particular?
A: I wanted to play an instrument that had a completely different sound than the piano. Already I’m finding that I write differently on the ukulele. I also wanted to try my hand at a stringed instrument…but the guitar just wasn’t happening. So I thought I’d give the ukulele a shot. But most importantly, the ukulele is much more portable than a 50lb keyboard. That’s my favorite thing about it.
Q:Your music covers a wide range of topics and subjects, however listeners can clearly see how faith has influenced the music you create within your lyrics. How would you describe your musical style? Do you consider yourself to be a christian artist? In what way would you label your music?
A: I tend to call my stuff pop/folk/soul – or soulfolk. And yes, it’s very important for me to be myself. I think if I left my faith out of my music, it would be missing the very thing that makes it what it is. I don’t really like the classification “Christian Artist.” To me that’s like creating a category called “Atheist Artist” or “Vegetarian Artist.” I just want to make music with integrity and music that honors God. Yes, I am a Christian and yes, I do make music.
Q: Tell us about the songwriting process. When you sit down to write music, where do you get your inspiration?
A: I’m really inspired by everything – like art in its various forms. I like to write love songs and I like to reflect on life. I’ve written songs based on movies, songs based on the political climate, songs about relationships and songs that explore verses in the Bible. I think this is the case for most artists. You can’t be one-dimensional. Write what comes to you.
Q: It seems that you are open to speaking to other artist and musicians. You spoke at the Jubilee conference in Pittsburg to college students interested in the arts. Can you tell me a little bit about the experience of sharing with students at Jubilee?
A: I love talking to people, and students specifically, about pursuing their passion. I actually run a blog about this very subject. It’s called Grassrootsy. I happen to see a lot of people playing it safe and going down a path that is more certain and just “safe”. So when I talk to a student I always try to encourage them to follow the road less traveled… it is a wonderful adventure. Jubilee is a unique conference because it is full of students who want to explore the endless possibilities that are before them.
Q: What are your goals as a musician?
A: I want to continue to make thoughtful, thought-provoking music. I want to make music that touches people where they need it most. I don’t want to be an entertainer.
Q: What have your biggest struggles been as an artist or as a christian artist?
A: There are a lot (I mean a lot) of artists out there living a life trying to pursue their craft. So one of the things I always struggle with is wondering if I am good enough to “stay in the game”. There’s always that voice that says… “No you’re not.” This is just one thing that I am constantly fighting against. But I think you need to be questioning your ability to a certain extent so that you realize there is always room to grow.
Q: Your sister, Peace Ike, is a musician as well. Do you guys ever work together in songwriting or in performing?
A: Yes, my sister is a drummer and often drums for me while on the road. We don’t necessarily write songs together but she has a lot of say in my music. I run things by her and give her the creative liberty to add percussion…including beatboxing at live shows.
Q: What advice do you have for musicians, artist, and writers that want to incorporate their faith into their art?
A: Don’t be afraid. Don’t change what you want to do out of fear of what others will think. This is hard because nobody wants to be disliked for what they have to say. BUT you can’t please everyone. Someone will hate your art. But someone else will LOVE it. Do what you gotta do, stick with it, and you will make a loyal fanbase. Don’t ever sell out for a quick buck or fleeting acceptance.
Q: If our readers want to take a look at your music, where can they find you?
www.joyike.com Readers can listen to music, send me a note, and follow the making of the new album! So much more to come.
Click the video below to witness her talent in her video as she talks about her new instruments and performs a new song called, Happy.
And watch here as she performs her lovely song called, How She Floats
B.L.O.G. Contributing Writer
Keshia Smith is a student at Ball State University studying journalism and creative writing. In her free time she enjoys hanging out with friends, being artsy, and attempting to recreate recipes she found online. Keshia strives to glorify Christ in all that she does.