It seems no coincidence that Fabric of Dreams was released on 8 March, International Women’s Day or Feminist Strike Day. Its opening track, “Milk and Honey” is a quiet yet blaring embrace and celebration of womanhood. Joy Bogat inaugurates her new album with a spotlight on the pressure society puts on women and their bodies. Eventually she breaks through with the realisation that society can only hold the power we allow it to have.

Photo by Paulina Metzscher

Last night in my sleep
I drank the whole sea
But still my skin just wouldn’t shine
Like in your advertisements
Your freaking advertisements
They no longer dictate the fabric of dreams or the magic within every woman I see
Our bodies are part of this story
You don’t know these stories
You don’t know our bodies
You don’t own our bodies

Joy’s powerful voice, her straightforward lyrics, and her soft compositions are a representation of the new era she is entering. Having recently gone through pregnancy and having become a mother, Joy learned something new about human connection: “Maybe being soft is what makes us worthy of trust”. When asked about the mantra her new music is pursuing, Joy explains that in a world where the stage has become a platform to promote artificial, fake versions of oneself, she intends to sing from the heart, stay real, and encourage people to be themselves. Because only by being soft and honest, we show other people that they can safely be vulnerable.

The Power of Words

Heavily influenced by RnB and lyrical hip-hop artists like Noname, as well as poetry slams, Joy Bogat’s music beautifully intertwines with spoken word. Implementing it throughout the album (the charming “Thirsty” is a perfect example of her craft), Joy creates a welcoming, safe atmosphere. From relatable lyrics to the warmth of Joy’s voice, as a first-time listener, I found myself in a space out of harm’s way, where I could look at different parts of myself and eventually find an inner power I did not realise I beheld.

This self-exploration was certainly also set off by the record’s multifaceted sound. Joy grew up with two older sisters, who played her a lot of Alicia Keys. The single “Left & Right” is a homage to the influence the Manhattan-born songwriter had on her vocal performance. Joy sees Fabric of Dreams as a result of the melting pot of musical influences that shaped her taste growing up.

Photo by Paulina Metzscher

“I have always written poems. When I was younger, I used to watch a lot of different types of poetry performances online: mostly American, but also some British poetry and German poetry slams as well.”

With her Haitian dad and family members living in the US, Joy came into close contact with the English language from a very young age. Music theory and singing classes, mixed with different languages and cultures, slowly shaped the unique, eclectic style of Fabric of Dreams. From the indie echoes on “Confide In You” to the soulful “Backwards”, the record encompasses different emotions, stories, and genres making the listening experience vibrant and exciting.

Packed With History, Culture, Grief

In “Raise My Glass”, one of the singles that anticipated Fabric of Dreams, Joy Bogat talks about honouring what the previous generations did for us, and how their way of being and living life influenced who we are, regardless of how much we might notice or like it. In fact, she explains, the heritage we carry from our ancestors is proof of the fact that we are never really alone. 

Packed with history, culture, grief
I awake sometimes from my ancestors’ screams
Surely of joy but who knows, what did they see
With their eyes – I have my grandma’s
Her hands, her walk
And I didn’t even know her at all

From recalling her mother crossing an ocean in search of a better life for her children to her grandmother and father whose features still shine through her, Joy paints a touching picture of celebration of one’s roots. “I might not always like it but every time I laugh / My father’s features speak right through me / And I’m happy to be the joy that he could never feel / Proud to pass it on to the next one”

Embrace Change

Music is a reflection of an artist’s life, and parenthood can certainly become a watershed in one’s existence. When I ask her about it, Joy Bogat explains that motherhood has impacted the shape of her music. The first transformation she identifies is time availability. With a baby that needs her care and attention, the time dedicated to singing or playing the piano is now rare and, as a consequence, very special. “I sing a lot at the moment” Joy laughs, “but really quietly, so I don’t wake the baby up”. On top of that, she explains that pregnancy changed her muscles and, therefore, her vocal cords. In light of her upcoming Germany-wide tour in March, April, and May, practice has become an opportunity to re-discover her voice. But Joy’s exploration of herself and motherhood started way before her baby was born.

Photo by China Hopson

The music video for her single Why Should We Lie, which she defined as the ‘Beyoncé Moment’ of her pregnancy, shows us that Joy has always used music as a tool to celebrate the vulnerability of life. Embracing her belly on a beach, bathed in soft light, Joy sings out yet another reminder to be gentle and honest to ourselves: “Remember what you promised / the last time you were honest with yourself / saying ‘No more running from myself’?”. On the way to that realisation, motherhood was a key component. It also allowed Joy to re-discover the world through a different lens.

When you get to witness a tiny human discover the world for the first time, you re-discover the world yourself. That probably also finds its way into my music”.

When I ask her about what she thinks her baby will take from her mother’s new album when listening back to Fabric of Dreams in 20 years, Joy smiles softly. “I hope that, through the lyrics, she can be proud of herself. I hope she learns the importance of making amends with people, of finding peace and coming to terms with herself”.

Fabric of Dreams is out now via Listen Records. Stay in touch with Joy Bogat via her website and Instagram.