Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1084

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Feature

Joyce Sims: Simply Joyce

Joyce Sims @bluesandsoul.com
Joyce Sims @bluesandsoul.com Joyce Sims @bluesandsoul.com Joyce Sims @bluesandsoul.com Joyce Sims @bluesandsoul.com

With classic songs in the late 80âs and early 90âs including âCome Into My Lifeâ, âAll and Allâ and âLifetime Loveâ, Joyce Sims became one of the most recognisable voices for that era, drawing in fans from the world of R&B and dance music through her work with producers Mantronix. Through the years, Sims continued to write and record, releasing 2006âs inspirational âNew Beginningâ, two greatest hits collections as well as numerous singles. Now sheâs back with a new album, a new single and her own label, Sims is taking care of business.

Joyce begins by opening up about the sound of her forthcoming album âLove Songâ. âThe sound of âLove Songâ is still love songs, it is more current but the base is still all about the music and all about love, the message I write about. I worked with a lot of writers and producers on this album which was very exciting and it was fun but thereâs more R&B, I should say dance. You can definitely tell this is a Joyce Sims albumâ. I'm working with Livingstone (Brown) on the album and there's a lot of other producers-like Mark Anthony, she says of the producers that contributed to the project. âLove Songâ is a collection. Itâs kind of like a compilation of songs that make up the words love song. It's like when you're telling one story, one love story the good The bad the ups and downs but it is still all based around loveâ.

With such a loyal and strong UK fan base, it seemed natural that Sims would gravitate towards working with UK talent. Having worked with producers including Soul Garden (now re-named Funk Division) and Livingstone Brown, Joyce clearly has love for the U.K. âit really is a coincidence I happen to work with so many UK producers and I'm in the UK a lot. I get a lot of inquiries about work or doing productions and it's so easy nowadays to get in touch and stay in touch with the Internet and everything. What happened with âLove Songâ I was working with a PR company based in the UK and they introduced me to Livingstone Brown and other writers and producers. I did a few tracks with each producer and they are going to be on the album. I really enjoyed it. I learnt from them and they learnt from me it was a lot of fun in the studioâ.

The new single âAll I Want Is Youâ is an up lifting, hook, driven dance-pop tune with all the ingredients to become a mainstream hit. Joyce explains the inspiration behind the song âThere was no specific person in mind (when I wrote the song). Itâs such a universal thing that you have people with money and power and everything they could have imagined but they're still not happy because they still don't have love. So that's where that came from you can have a pocket full of money and still not be happyâ.

After signing to Sleeping Bag Records in 1986, she developed songs she wrote for her demo tape which included âCome Into My Lifeâ and âAll and Allâ When talking about her earlier hits Joyce says she had no idea how successful those songs would become. âI didn't (know how special those songs would become). When I write songs, I write about something I've experienced something someone shared with me. I really didn't know that! She says with a smile. âI just wanted to write songs because I would hear this music I would hear these lyrics in my head and I just wanted to write music I wanted to put it on tape ( we had tape at the time) I had no idea that âAll In Allâ and âCome Into My Lifeâ would be big records, none whatsoever. I really didn't bother me at the time. I just wanted to be in the studio and to sing my songs. It's been such a blessing even today I still get a lot of radio play and people faces light up when they see me in concert when I'm performing these songs and they are singing along. I am really honoured, it is really a blessing.â

It was a gig at the then Hammersmith Theatre in London that stands out as one of Joyceâs fondest memories of that time. âThere were several special moments. There was a concert, at the time it was called the Hammersmith theatre in London. It was my first time performing in a theatre, there were seats and I was used to performing in clubs, where everybody's stands and âlet's partyâ. It was a sell-out that was the other thing. It was my first sell out in the UK. It was magical but thatâs what I remember most-the seats and I said to my manager âwhat am I going to do. What are the people going to do? Thereâs nowhere to dance!â He said âit's okay sweetie, its okayâ. I was so scared going out on stage that night but the people just responded so well they just stood and up and danced. It was amazing.â Still, Sims admits that kind of unexpected success was at times hard to handle. âThe thing about it was I didn't know what to expect. I always looked forward to performing or doing interviews, TV but it is the thing of not knowingâ¦that I had so many requests and I was asked to be in so many different places at one time I was just constantly moving and working and working and coming into the industry with no experience, and not expecting a hit record, letâs start there. Everything comes out you at the same time it can be really overwhelming. I will say that but I don't regret anything. I look forward to it all.

I was moving too fast to say âok enjoy thisâ she continues reflecting on embracing her whirlwind success at the time it was actually happening. âOnce I was on stage I enjoyed it, I was having a ball, I am in my element. I had to reflect back on it. Now that I look back on it I say I'm going to really enjoy myself this time around I've worked so hard the first time around when I was coming out. I tell a lot of the young people today âit's hard work. Itâs a business you got to treat it as a business.â I was working-I was working really hard when I first came out. Now I know how it all works. I know what is expected of me and I'm really enjoying myself this timeâ

With technology having forever changed the way we consume, purchase and create music, the industry is a very different place than when Sims first stepped behind a mic. âI embrace the technology but to be in business you have to keep up with what's happening. I do digital downloads but I come from an era where everything was in analogue and everything was warmer. There is a physical album, well there still is CDâs but I still like the old school technique but you have to be careful how you work it or how you incorporate it in with the new technology. I think they both work. Some people still want to have a CD in your hands or the vinyl in the hand. I think also it depends on your generation. The younger people just like right nowâ¦instantly, today tomorrow it is old. Whereas the older generation might want a vinyl a physical CD that's what I see that's whatâs I've been experiencing especially at the shows, when you have merch there and you are selling products and CDs and everything. it's definitely well received.â

Always wanting to grow as an artist and writer, Joyce also continues to be inspired by new artists, producers and production techniques âI listen to Emeli Sande, Estelle, Jazmine Sullivan. I love Ciara. I love to watch her perform. I love the way she dances. Thereâs a lot of great talent out there, a lot of younger talent. I do listen to the production of everything. I hear because I write, I produce. I don't try to keep up with all the new technology because you would be studying forever and you would never have time to create. I pick and choose the software that I would like to work with. My go to one is Protools. I listen to music and try and figure out what kind of production they are using, what kind of snares are they using what kind of EQ's are they using. If I hear a buzz about this new act or a new track on the internet, I want to hear it. I listen to music all the time.â

With her own imprint, August Rose just getting off the ground, she is now able to use the knowledge and experience she gained during her thirty year career. August Rose Records, that my record label, that's the label that âLove Songâ is coming out on and I'm responsible for all the marketing and promotion. I'm getting a team together that is going to work for me and work with me and we all have the same dreams and ideas and we are headed in the same direction. I'm really in charge now and I love it.â August is my birthday and Rose is a beautiful flower that represents love. August Rose is fairly new but I have a team that is working with me. It takes a lot of time and money to promote it properly but I'm always looking for artists that I would like to work with. I'm looking to do it in the future but I want to make sure that everything is in place before I take and sign an artist. I know what it's like to be signed to a label and have to wait for them to put out your music. Once youâve made the music you're ready to hear it on the radio. I don't want to do that to another artist. My first album with Sleeping Bag was delayed. Being an artist, thereâs stuff that you didn't really know what's going on behind the scenes. Maybe its production, maybe the marketing plan is not ready to be released but as an artist you don't really care you just want your music to go out there. I have experienced that so I know what it's like coming from an artist sideâ.

The album "Love Song' is out now on August Rose Records
Words Karen Lawler

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