Bside sits with Ghanian-American singer and songwriter Moliy for an exclusive chat about her career, her new project Honey Doom and more.
Since its earliest years, Afrobeats has allowed for experimentation. The dynamic nature of West African culture reveals itself in its genre, as combinations of sounds and people create avenues for improvement of the craft across the board. As a result, innovative sonic experiences have come to life, especially in recent times as the world stands up to take notice of our artistry. At its core, Afrobeats is a shapeshifting genre, constantly in a state of reviewing old and creating new ideas.
This is especially the case when it comes to Nigerian-Ghanaian collaborations. Artists from the Gold Coast have found home on our shores, and our acts have been duly accepted and welcomed over there as well. From Sarkodie and R2Bees to Gyakie and Black Sherif, Ghanaian music has become closely affiliated with us even in our internal music space. Their newest export, Moliy, aims to replicate that success.
Though in Lagos for the first time this October, Moliy is no stranger to these parts. Her talent came to light for her stellar work on Amaarae’s breakout single “Sad Girlz Luv Money”, whose remix with Kali Uchis debuted at #80 on the Billboard Hot 100. She also featured on BOJ’s “In A Loop” with her older sister Mellissa, and with that, interest in her talent spiked due to her sultry voice and playful songwriting. As an independent artist, Moliy is coming into her own, and last week she put out her second project, titled Honey Doom.
The project sees Moliy take a different stylistic approach to her first project, Wondergirl. Over Honey Doom’s 22 minutes, she aims to unearth new bounces, with a beat selection process that largely involves how the production makes her feel. With a production cast that features Juls, P.Priime and DJ Radixx, Moliy put together a healthy roster. She’s delicate but fun, focused but easy-going, and this contrast is evident as you listen through Honey Doom.
In person, she’s radiant. Pulling up to the office clad in a grey dress and black high-tops, we exchanged pleasantries and got right into it.
This interview is lightly edited for clarity.
Bside: What’s up? How’s Lagos been?
Moliy: It’s my last day here. It’s been… I don’t know. A lot of stuff has been going on.
Is it your first time in Lagos?
I know you have some bad things to say about Lagos. Everyone who comes here always has something to say.
Does it have anything to do with the jollof rice? [laughs]
You don’t like the jollof rice? Is that the Ghanaian-Nigerian thing talking?
Nah, I don’t like the rice in general. I think it has to do with the brand. You guys use a lot of parboiled rice.
Actually yes, we do.
I’m not a fan. I’m more Basmati, Jasmine…
To be honest, making jollof with basmati doesn’t go.
No? Well, Jasmine then? Or just regular rice [laughs]. But Lagos has been cool. I’ve met a lot of cool artists since I got here. I’ve met SGaWD, Ycee, and some others.
What is it about Nigeria that makes you want to come here and collaborate with our artists?
The creative scene here is really dope, so there’s that. That’s the most exciting part of it.
Is there anyone, in particular, you’d like to work with?
Yeah, there are a lot. Simi is dope. There’s Rema…
What would a Rema and Moliy record sound like?
It’ll be a big bowl of so much hype and fun. [laughs]
I feel that the way you like to collaborate and interact with other artists is a pointer to your background, having grown up in Ghana and then went to the US for a while. How would you describe your personality?
I don’t know how to answer this because I’m really just me. Moliy is very chill, she’s confident, she’s vibes. Also family oriented. I don’t know how to put Moliy into words, you just have to experience it to know.
I understand that because I tried to comb the internet for information on you, and I noticed that a lot of people aren’t capturing your personality. When you understand an artist’s personality you can hear it in the music.
I feel that way a lot and that’s why I put my personality into the content I create. If you go on my TikTok you’re gonna see how I think and see things.
Do you put random streams of consciousness on Twitter?
Nah, I’m more of a content person. I don’t like Twitter as much but I’m trying. I have an issue with oversharing so I don’t know.
I know if someone’s a bit reclusive they might have a problem transitioning into coming out like this and meeting people for the first time.
I’m a good people person. I think it’s just tweeting thoughts I have issues with.
You mentioned something about being family oriented and you make music with your sister Mellissa. Does the fact that you are family-oriented lead to this, or do you guys just make music and vibe?
Before being in the music industry was a reality, we had that vibe. We’d do stuff together. It got to the point where one person can start singing a song and the other person can start doing backups.
The chemistry is crazy. Was it difficult to convince your parents to go into music full-time?
I mean, was it? I feel like my mum would always give you a hard time at first, but if she sees you’re really into something then the support comes naturally. I didn’t have to fight for it.
Are you the first child?
No, I’m the last.
Word? Interesting. Let’s get into the music. Your new project, Honey Doom, has a romantic outlook. Was all of it about your personal experiences?
They’re my experiences but they’re also my thoughts. I may not have experienced something, but I think this is what it should be. So, it’s a balance of both. Also, I don’t have to experience something to write about it or feel the essence of it to put it into words.
How long did it take you to record Honey Doom?
I think it was 2 years? Not actively but the timespan it took.
That’s 2020, so was that immediately after Wondergirl?
Yes! When Wondergirl was ready I had moved on sonically. I was like, okay the world has this now but I need something new to listen to for myself.
Is the project title, Wondergirl, a representation of how you see yourself? As a superstar?
Not as a superstar but as a human. There are so many things that we limit ourselves to. Growing up, my eyes opened to the fact that I don’t want to struggle. I don’t want to keep enduring certain things.
Especially when there’s no reason for it.
I want to experience a good life, and I want to make the best out of this, knowing I can achieve better things for myself. And I feel like it’s something a lot of women should do. You’re not trying to rely on your parents, you’re not trying to rely on a man. You just want joy for yourself.
What quality do you think makes you stand out?
I’m always going to be the happiest in the room, regardless of what’s going on.
What was your favorite song to make off Honey Doom?
“Banana” was fun. It was at my house and my cousins were over, someone was cooking Jollof in the kitchen. [laughs] I can’t remember what day it was, but I think it was somebody’s birthday. It just felt very free and fun, and it’s a fun song.
You worked with Juls, P.Priime, and Moonchild Sanelly. That’s a healthy roster. How was it working with P.Priime? Did you meet him?
I did! He was in Ghana for a few days, and I heard from someone from his camp that he wanted to meet me. I pulled up to the hotel and made magic. We made other records, but I had “Prisoner” in my head. When I heard that beat, I knew that was the beat for the song.
How do you select your beats? Is it based on a feeling?
It is based on a feeling; sometimes, it’s hard to put it into words. If I don’t feel the energy pass through me, I don’t think a song will happen with it.
Which do you prefer, Honey Doom or Wondergirl? Or you don’t like to compare your projects?
I definitely don’t. I think Wondergirl’s time isn’t up yet, I think some people would go back to that project like, “hmm, what’s happening here?”
It actually isn’t. I heard about the project just this year and it has some bangers. What’s an ideal work environment for you to record? Do you have any pre-recording rituals?
I used to drink something, but I took a break from that. ‘Cause every time I want to vibe I’m like, “need a drink!” [laughs]. I started to ask myself if I’m having fun anymore or if it was just the alcohol talking. I had to take back control of my creative space. I like a dark room, not too lit. Maybe a cup of tea to keep my vocal cords active and moisturized. Some incense… makes the place feel calm and gives it an ambiance. I don’t like a lot of people in the room when I record, it’s distracting. Just me and the engineer or producer.
Do you like to record at home or in the studio?
In the studio. I feel more awake. At home, I feel relaxed and like I have time. I’m that kind of focused person. In the studio I’m not having fun, I’m tryna get the best out of the moment.
What would you regard as a success for yourself?
When I and everyone around me have nothing to worry about, and everyone’s fed.