Allysha Joy is nothing short of a hero of ours. She’s a total cornerstone of the music coming out of (so-called) Australia*, both as a solo artist and as part of the band and collective 30/70.
There is an undeniable resonance going on between Melbourne and South East London: so when we found out that 30/70 would be joining us at Brainchild for the first time in 2018; we were ecstatic to welcome our new friends from down under. The undercurrents of jazz run through both places, as does the community-feel and collective ethos of both musical worlds. Having them on-site certainly felt like having extended family members around. Allysha returned in 2019 with her solo project, fronting a band made up of lots of 30/70 members.
Her music is luscious and full of different sounds, riding the wave between neo-soul, R&B and jazz, the music she was raised listening to. Often extraordinarily tender, her first album Acadie: Raw is powerfully personal. In her words: “from beginning to completion of creating this music, it has been a chance to express a deeper, more personal side of self and to take full control of the vision and the music“.
Likened to Erykah Badu in performance style, we aren’t one to argue. To know Allysha is to experience a beautifully laid back, warm person, qualities that shine through in her work. We wanted to find out what she’s been reading and listening to, and as she couldn’t whittle her choices down for us, we’ve bent the rules on this occasion and let her include 5 different books. Read on, friends:
Akala ‘Natives’ (Two Roads) // Renne Eddo Lodge ‘Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race‘ (Bloomsbury Publishing) // Glennon Doyla ‘Untamed‘ // Assata Shakur ‘Assata‘ // Naomi Wolf ‘Vagina‘
Wow, it’s hard to pick just one book, but I guess as this will probably reach a predominantly UK audience I would recommend reading ‘Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race’ if you haven’t already!! By Rennie Eddo Lodge. But also .. Untamed by Glennon Doyle really resonated with me, Assata by Assata Shakur, anything/everything by Baldwin, Vagina by Naomi Wolf is amazing, I’m currently reading Trick Mirror by Jia Tollentino and it is hilarious and so well written! and again for the UK readers, you gotta read Natives by Akala!! I’m sorry I can’t pick one book! I love books!
Tiana Khasi ‘Meghalaya‘ (Soul Has No Tempo)
Meghalaya by Tiana Khasi is absolutely one of my favourite albums out of Australia… please go and listen to this work of art! Such effortlessly poetic lyricism, so personal and true and such an incredible vocalist and beautiful soul! Produced by Sampology, the whole album has such a beautiful feel and energy, it sounds like being near a waterfall and brings me so much joy! Please listen and share this beautiful woman’s music, it is the antidote to this moment.
Check out Meghalaya on Bandcamp (and remember to buy it if you like it!).
One Other Thing
Hafiz ‘Dropping Keys’
I’ve been thinking a lot about this poem by Hafiz called Dropping Keys. It was originally written as men dropping keys and then adapted to women, but I really love the sentiment. It makes me focus on the ways in which I can be dropping keys, how I can actively be assisting in women being able to liberate themselves, I thought reading, art, poetry and music is such a powerful tool to reach the conscious and subconscious mind. It gets into the psyche and assists others in unraveling all that this capitalist, sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, fatphobic system has tricked us into believing! It is healing! I don’t feel as though I am a sage, I feel that I have so much to learn and so much uncovering to do, so I almost feel like I’m flying around still caged in a sense, frantically reading, learning, getting it wrong and battling, trying to unlock my self while creating art and getting involved in community activism that will hopefully unlock others. I definitely feel like art and music is part of the answer, it’s the subtle wave of familiarity, it’s the love and craft and textures of vulnerability, it’s all that has come before you from every corner of the world, it’s sometimes a window just slightly out of view, it’s moving your body deeply just for your self, it’s all that you can see, and the light ahead that hasn’t quite encompassed you yet. It’s beauty and personal and completely influenced by everything and everyone around you. I am here but to be a door, a vessel, a key, a voice.
The small woman builds cages
for everyone she knows
While the sage
Who has to duck her head
When the moon is low
Keeps dropping keys
All night long
For the beautiful rowdy prisoners
*We would like to acknowledge that the name Australia was given to the land by white invaders, who took it from the native Indigenous people who had cared for the land for thousands of years. Aboriginal names for Australia include Uluru. We recognise the traditional owners of this land and pay our respects.