We’ve all got that playlist of sad songs; if you go through a break-up, you’ll realise how many number one tracks have been about heartbreak and despair. But 16-year-old musician Flowerovlove (a.k.a. Joyce Cisse) wants to change that. Joyce’s stage name Flowerovlove takes inspiration from the beauty of the world around us; flowers blossoming, growth and love. These ideas seep into her debut EP Think Flower which dropped last Friday. I hopped on Zoom with Joyce to talk about Think Flower, her love for nature and sustainability.
Joyce’s music feels like a breath of fresh air: it’s youthful, hopeful and overwhelmingly positive. For her, it’s incredibly important that her music harnesses these qualities:
“Honestly, the wholeness you feel when you have love for yourself is so important. As soon as you start loving yourself, everything is so much brighter for you. Everything. Not just when you look in the mirror, but when you step outside. You feel so much better. I just want everyone to feel good.
My favourite track on the EP is Dancing in the Rain because of the whole message of the song: just dancing in the rain and enjoying your own company. Which I love. The song is also special to me and my brother. At the end of Keep Falling, there was going to be this little jokey ending where I would sing the lyrics “dancing in the rain”. But then my brother was like “that’s actually fire - that could be a song”. And I was like “you know what, why not?”. So now it’s a full-on song and I love having that fun memory connected with the making of it. It didn’t take long to make it at all. Like four or five hours.”
Joyce is not only writing and performing these songs; she is deeply involved in making the music videos for them too. The video for the first track Keep Falling feels natural and unselfconscious, borrowing mediums from the past like fish-eye lens’ and 90s looking VHS cameras.
“I was literally just talking to my brother about how it’s so fun to plan music videos because you look for little bits of inspiration. What I do is I listen to the song and close my eyes and, whatever comes to my head, is what the music video is going to be. And it’s just so cool to be very involved and have your vision become a reality. I like being there for everything.
Listening to the EP, it’s apparent that Flowerovlove can’t be boiled down to just one genre. While Well Aware has some electronic influences, Pot of Love is a drastically more sombre acoustic number.
“Yeah [Pot of Gold] is a little bit more… sad. But the whole message of it isn’t sad. And I feel like a sad song doesn’t actually have to be sad - it’s about how you feel when you listen to it.
I guess I can fit my music into a genre. It would be like “indie pop” or “alternative”. But I don’t just want to be stuck in one category. I really like rock music, and bringing that out in my music as well.
My musical influences are Men I trust, an amazing band. I really like The Strokes. I’m literally just looking at my wall right now [she shows me a huge collage on her wall]. I’m gonna go One Direction. You know, gotta stick to my roots. They always made me feel a specific way, which is what I want people to feel when they listen to my music.”
Despite Joyce’s love of nature, she lives in the hustle and bustle of London. She talks about where she goes in the city to connect with the earth:
“I’m not gonna say the actual place because I don’t want to get kidnapped, but the second place I go to is Hampstead heath. The lakes there are really, really nice. It was the hottest day of spring a few weeks back and I went to Hampstead heath and just sat there all day watching the ducks. But if I could go anywhere in the world right now it would be Havasu Falls in Arizona. It has the most beautiful mountains and waterfalls and all of the colours are so amazing.”
Flowerovlove sounds like music that’s created through a very organic process. But as with any creative, there are moments when you’re in more of a rut:
“If I have writer’s block I honestly just don’t make music. But my process at the moment is just to hear the beat and say something. Just saying anything; because later on you can develop that. Even if you’re just repeating one word, it’s still something. It could really just start off as an idea, or a beat, and then it can become a beautiful song. So yeah, if I have writer’s block, I’ll just repeat one word.”
Tracks like Dancing in the Rain embody a completely carefree and optimistic sentiment; they’re a joy to listen to and it’s hard to resist wondering if this is a reflection of Joyce’s young age. I asked Joyce about the challenges of entering the industry at only 16:
“A lot of people ask me questions about the challenges I face, these negative things, but I only focus on the positive. I haven’t really experienced anything negative anyway. I’m just starting out and I’m just having fun. For me, it’s all about fun. So I haven’t really experienced any challenges, no. It’s about your mindset. The business side is where it can get a little bit complex, but it’s about having the right people around you.
For Joyce, the symbolism of the name Flowerovlove is deeply connected to sustainability. While it’s a contentious issue, with “sustainability” often becoming a loaded term, Joyce understands both the importance of leading a sustainable lifestyle as well as how to do it in a flexible and open way:
“Caring about our planet is really important. We want to have an amazing place for future generations to live. So let’s start taking care of it, you know? And, honestly, even just for us to have a lovely place to live, because we all deserve the best. I do understand that some people want things from specific stores, or brands, which aren’t sustainable. I completely understand that. I just feel it’s all about doing little things to help out: cutting down on certain make-up; trying a cruelty-free version; being a vegan, even for just a couple of weeks. It’s all very helpful. People can choose to change. Or choose to try and improve.
With her genre-bending EP and a host of singles under her belt already, it’s exciting to imagine what the future holds for Joyce:
“It holds a lot of music and there’s a lot of fun events happening very soon. It holds excitement”.
Flowerovlove’s debut EP Think Flower is out now.