Broadcaster, Radio DJ
We caught up with rising star Joelah, to find out about her prime time show on BBC Radio 1Xtra and talked music and travel. Now this is a lady who’s going places! Expect to see and hear much more of her. Joelah has already presented MTV’s Dating show ‘Are you the one’, hosted the ‘Lionesses Live’ official YouTube Channel and already won ‘Best Ensemble Act’ at the 2022 Audio Production Awards for her 1Xtra show with Kiki. We’re certain she’s destined for more great things. We find out a bit more of the story so far when we caught up with her.
Istarted off at Link FM, and that was a three hour show and then I did like an hour every week for a couple of years. And Kiki, who’s the co-host on Throwback Party, actually was my producer on that show. So it’s really like a really nice full circle moment working with her again.
What sort of stuff do you like playing? What’s the general vibe?
It’s old school, 90s, 90s, 10s, all the way up until about 2016. Hip hop, R&B, old school UK music as well. I was raised in New York, anytime we play the UK stuff it’s always a little lesson for me. But my show every Saturday, that’s you know that’s up-and-coming music, like music that I personally really love and like grew up listening to.
There are different segments within the show, because it is three hours. So I start off with a little talkie, and usually that’s something that’s quite provocative, something that’s really going to get the people talking. Then I’ll play like a game where I’ll play a little clip of a song, an old school song. And they have to guess what song it is. So I really like to be like quite interactive. I feel throughout my show, I’m really just chatting to a bunch of my friends and listening to music that I like listening to. That’s pretty much the vibe, to be honest.
What were your influences growing up?
I lived in Brooklyn in East New York, you would just hear music playing everywhere, from boomboxes. I was pretty young when I moved there, but I have older brothers and sisters, and they used to come and visit and they had made friends. These friends became my stand in older brothers and sisters when they weren’t there. And they would listen to different music and they would rap and do battle raps. They would come over to the house and they’d just be freestyling and stuff in the front room. I’m there, the little 10 year old who they call ‘Buzzed out Barbie’ and I’m trying to secretly write rhymes. I wanted to be a rapper, I still secretly do!
Jay-Z is my ultimate favorite rapper. I remember when I first heard Jay-Z and Jermaine Dupri, they had a song together and I thought they were like a duo. Like I thought it was them two together and actually I really liked Jermaine Dupri because he was on the hook and that was a catchy bit and the bit that I like really understood as a kid. Eve was also like, and still is, one of my ultimate favorite rappers. I loved how she was like the only girl in a super aggressive male dominated crew. I loved that because she was, she wasn’t really overly sexualized. She was still, she carried herself with a lot of class and I loved her lyrics as well. They were super appealing to me.
I remember listening to Eminem for the first time and that was when I was like, oh my gosh, like, this is like real poetry type stuff, like you could really get deep and like really vulnerable in your music. And The Roots as well, that’s when I realised that, you know, it had like that soulful element of it.
But then also I was still a kid, so Lil Bow Wow was, you know, my husband, and I had pictures of him all over my walls. And, you know, Destiny’s Child and that kind of vibe as well.
What stuff are you listening to? Is there anything that’s on your radar or you’re playing on your show that people should be paying attention to. Any emerging artists coming up?
Yes right now I’m just addicted to a R&B soul vibe in terms of the UK music and someone like ‘Jerome Thomas’, he is one of my ultimate favourites and he’s been around for years but not many, not enough people know about him. ‘Iyamah’, she’s also a great talent with that soul kind of vibe, her name is actually Sophie Bond. Another Sophie, ‘Sophie Said’ is also great. ‘Coops’ is also a great one. There’s so many to be honest, I could name a hundred right now. The more I name, the more I think, oh my God, they’re really good.
And what about your guilty pleasures? What would you play when the producers aren’t watching?
There’s nothing guilty about these pleasures, but I might do, Let me see, something guilty pleasure, something that doesn’t align with what I usually say. Definitely it’s going to raise a few eyebrows. I’d go for something like Rod Stuart. It’s inspired by my love for A$AP Rocky he’s got a song called ‘Every day’ which samples Rod. I think it’s called ‘In A Broken Dream’.
You’ve had a great career so far. You know, it feels like you’re really building momentum. But there must have been some highlights and probably some lowlights of jobs that you’ve done in the past that perhaps aren’t on the radar as much as your TV work and radio work. What would be the highlights and lowlights of life so far?
I think the highlights is definitely the ‘Lioness’s Live’ show that I did. That’s definitely a highlight, especially considering that we won, you know, It makes a change for us to win something! The throwback party show, honestly, I’ve only been doing that for a year and it is one of my favourite things. I’m so happy that we do it. It’s been so successful as well. A lot of people listen to it, a lot of people interact with the show and to think that we’ve been able to go from being in another station where Kiki was my producer to now, winning awards. Doing a little takeover on a drive show which is listened to by so many people, that’s never really been done before, so that’s a definite highlight for me.
As for low-light I think everything is a learning process you know but when I first started presenting I started like an online mag, and it was all about how people became who they are, how they became successful. And it’s not a low light, but it’s definitely like the more embarrassing part of my career, because it was a beginning. I wasn’t as seasoned as I am now. I was doing hour-long interviews and no one was really trying to watch an hour-long interview about whatever I was trying to talk about. So, yeah, that’s embarrassing looking back on that now. But I’m still so grateful for the journey and the lessons.
I mean, it’s not a bad place to start off, really, in the grand scheme of things. Could have been Macca’s or something.
Well, definitely! I had to do commercials and stuff to make money after I left my full-time job. I did a dating commercial and I was in a relationship at the time. That was pretty embarrassing because I didn’t know they were going to run an ad. It was in the Metro at the time. It was a screenshot of me like just being silly, oh it’s so embarrassing anyway.
Are you well travelled? Have there been some highlights of your travel so far?
Last year I had no right to travel as much as I did, but yes, I’m a big, big travel fan. I love exploring. I think because of my roots in New York as well, I’ve never been a stranger to sitting on a plane. So, I always go back to New York. I’ve got really great friends there that I’ve had since I was five. So that’s really beautiful. But recently, actually, in February, I went to Trinidad for Trinidad Carnival, my mum was Trinidadian. It was amazing because I had no intention of playing mas, which is having the costume and everything. So on the plane from New York to Trinidad, people were talking about it, and I just decided in that moment, I’m actually going to play, which is kind of unheard of because it’s really expensive and really difficult to get last minute costumes, but I did that. I loved it. And it was nice to get back in touch with my roots.
Where’s else are you planing to go?
I always go back to places I’ve been. You know, I’ve been quite a few different places, but when I find somewhere I love all that is like, if I’m attached to it in some kind of way, like Trinidad for instance. So New York, Nigeria is somewhere that I’ve been to a couple times. My dad’s half Nigerian. So I love the party scene. I love the night time scene over there. I love the creative scene, actually. Really nice. So I have to go back there. I wanna go, I’ve never been to, well, I have been, I’ve never been to like Japan.
So what’s next? obviously apart from becoming a superstar rapper, which is the end game, but what’s next?
I’m just gonna continue doing the things I love, I’ve got so many exciting things coming up, but I don’t really know how to talk about it all at the moment, but for me, my idea of happiness is to just have the freedom to create all the things that I want to create.
Google, they’ve been in touch and they’re running out of disk space and they’re getting all of the influential music people involved and you can save two tracks and you can delete one forever. What two tracks do you save and what do you put in the bin?
So I’m going to think about this tactically, because there are certain tunes that people would definitely save, so I’m not going to pick the obvious ones that people are already going to save. So all like the Biggie classics, Jay-Z classics. A billion people are choosing those songs, right? I have to think smart. So I’m going to pick Party Life, Jay-Z. That’s on the American Gangster album, and I think it’s a very underrated album. It’s one of his best ones. And the way he performed that on a small MTV little intimate performance thing, how he performed that tune, it’s fantastic. Yeah. I’m forever in love with that song for that.
This might get me into some trouble. ‘Montell Jordon – This is how we do it’ I’m actually sick of that being the first song, it’s overdone! It’s actually a really great song but I’ve heard it too many times. I feel like if I go to a party, then that is always the first song they play. They usually follow that up with like the real slim shady or something like that.
You’ve woken up, and it’s a parallel universe, Donald Trump has not just taken over red neck America, but he’s taken over the world and the world is proper fucked now! He’s taken the axe at all sorts of fun. He’s outlawing any form of entertainment apart from golf and Literally, you’ve got one chance to go and have one last party, one last hurrah. Where would you go? What would you do?
It would definitely be New York, because that’s my vibe! (Laughs) that’s my people. A Hip Hop star-studded affair. I went in the summer and Cameron was performing. And it was just amazing, you know, to get that intimate performance of Cameron, someone that I used to fall asleep listening to when I was a kid. I was definitely too young to be listening to Cameron, but yeah, so it would have to be something like that where we’ve got an old school classic, someone like him maybe, performing, maybe The Lox So it’ll be like that kind of old school classic, Henny and Coke kind of vibe.
Yeah, and then maybe, you know, cause it’s the last party, maybe I’ll jump on the mic and spit some verses.