JoyRukanza made her first major impression as a teenage prodigy when she collaborated with the multi-award-winning producer Skaiva on the hit single “Shingirira” which was recorded and released whiles she was still in High School.
Having already marked her turf on the music scene in her native Zimbabwe, the honeyed-voiced songbird has now set her sights on the continental stage, birthing her debut as an international solo artist with her first single release of the calendar year “New Day” which features multi-award- winning South African rapper KiD X.
JoyRukanza’s unique experience of being born and raised in Bulawayo – Zimbabwe, but having shuffle between New York, London, and Johannesburg (due to school and work), has exposed her to a wide variety of cross-cultural influences which clearly evidenced in her unique experimental sound.
Here, we discuss her musical influences, her career aspirations, as well as delving into her newly released single “Queendom” which is extracted from her forthcoming debut album.
Tell us a bit about your first memory of discovering yourself as a creator or artist?
I discovered that I could sing when I was humming some melody while doing household chores. My sister’s best friend was around, and she asked me to sing loudly. I think I was nine years old or younger at the time. I became shy and refused to do that, but I guess that was the earliest indication of my artistry. Months later, I volunteered to participate in a school choir session. For some reason, I was drawn to choral music, which is where I fully discovered my vocal ability and started my music journey. Since then, I never looked back and would proceed to participate in choirs beyond primary school and now here I am today releasing “Queendom”
What does a typical day look like for you?
It’s wildly busy! Apart from being a musician, I am a full-time Senior Technology Analyst at the biggest asset management firm in the world. We have hundreds of corporate clients, and I spent my days coding, responding to system-based inquiries, and managing various projects. My day starts at 6 am and ends around 10 pm. To keep myself going, I also make time to connect with my family and loved ones during that time, and some days, I also have recording sessions in my studio. I find music so therapeutic that even karaoke sessions help to relieve stress levels.
Congrats on the release of your new single Queendom. How does it feel to finally share it with the world?
Ethereal! I have been working on this project for the longest time and I can’t believe that I am finally getting to share it with the world. A lot of effort went into this production, and I was very blessed to work with a team of dedicated creators who went against all odds to bring its vision to life. For some reason, I was more nervous about “Queendom” relative to other releases and it might be because this is the biggest team I have ever worked with. I do hope that viewers and listeners resonate with the project and are able to see the effort we invested into this production.
Can you tell us a little more about the meaning of the title, Queendom? “Queendom” refers to a territory owned by a Queen. I think “kingdom”, the exact opposite, is a more mainstream term which is what I wanted to challenge. I wanted to create a record that would inspire and encourage millions of women in the world following the rise in domestic violence cases that ensued globally during the lockdown. I wanted to create something that would make women feel like queens in whichever spheres they have felt marginalized.
We are in love with the “Queendom” music video. How did you come up with the idea?
I was in the studio with the producer when he played the instrumental for Queendom. I remember going crazy and screaming as the song was playing. I immediately told him that this song needed an aggressive video.
How’s 2021 been for you in general?
It’s been a year of many challenges and blessings. I was inspired to take up music professionally after seeing my friends taking up opportunities they had always wanted. The pandemic was also a big push because I thought to myself that before I leave this world, I really needed to do one thing I am extremely passionate about, and that was music. Of course, I had been looped into music projects in the past as a featured vocalist, but 2021 was the year that I broke out of my shell and decided to release my own work independently and life has been great since. Exploring this industry has taught me a lot from communication skills to problem resolution, and each day is honestly encompassed by a life lesson.
Who are you listening to now, and are there any Zim artists we should have on our radar?
I am currently listening to K-Brizzy, KiD X, Chymamusique, FKJ, Burna Boy. In terms of Zimbabwean artists, I believe you should definitely lookout for a joint album from two Zimbabwean artists K-Brizzy and Phanas. They are releasing one of the biggest albums in the country which was eloquently produced.
With your new single out now, can we expect any other exciting surprises from you alongside its release? Yes! The single comes with merch which shall be given to some lucky fans. I will be giving away Spotify Premium gift cards to some of my lucky fans, T-shirts with some cool “queen of hearts” designs amongst other things. I am also excited that my artwork is going to be on a billboard in one of the city’s busiest locations. I am uber excited for this because it’s the first time something like this has happened to me. Viewers should also look out for the video which shall also air on television channels in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Tanzania.
The title of your forthcoming debut album “Matter-More-For-Sis” is quite witty. What inspired that?
And what statement are you looking at making with this project? I was going through a crazy period when I created the album and I just decided to create some piece of art that implores me to matter more for myself. The album’s message also caters to other people as well and I hope that after listening to it, they will be encouraged to prioritize themselves. Apart from that meaning, the album title is a wordplay on the scientific process of metamorphosis, which alludes to growth and a change from one form to the other. I was particularly drawn to the title because the album narrates one love story that starts at a very low point when a woman has been cheated on and as the album progresses, she finds reason to believe in love again. The messages and music production metamorphize which is why I chose to go for different genres in this body of work.
What’s your plan for your career? What do you want for yourself?
I want to be a globally recognized brand and show the world that a girl from Zimbabwe can defy expectations and perform on global stages. I want to collaborate and learn from some of the world’s greatest acts. I believe I have the talent and work ethic to do so, and I can only continue working hard and networking so that the best and right opportunities bring my dreams to fruition.