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How Joyce Wrice Channeled Her Favorite ’90s Pop Singers To Create Upbeat, Experimental ‘Motive’ EP

Joyce Wrice talks about her new, dance-ready EP, Motive, touring with Lucky Daye, and more.

It’s a bit before noon and Joyce Wrice is just coming downstairs to the lobby of the Aloft in Downtown Brooklyn on a warm September day. The Los Angeles-based singer is fresh-faced and her outfit is cozy: a cropped white tee, Black cargo pants, a matching hoodie, and Jordans. For the past couple of days, she’s been in town for New York Fashion Week, where she walked in her first show (Tom Bogo) and attended others like No Sesso. A bit after I arrive, Joyce and I — alongside her manager Jasmine, A&R Eddie Fourcell, and publicist Michael — head out to grab chai lattes at a spot nearby that Jasmine found a few mornings ago.

When asked how she’s been doing, she doesn’t give the typical response of “OK.” Instead, while calmly sipping her iced chai latte, she shared that she’s happy, having recently finished opening for Lucky Daye’s nationwide Candydrip tour. She shared that watching Lucky during the tour allowed her to see exactly what she needed to tweak to improve her performances for her fans — from working on her vocal stamina to endure back-to-back shows to just better understanding what touring on that scale looks like.

“It groomed me to prepare for that lifestyle,” she said. “I really enjoyed it overall, because I only want to keep touring more, and I want to keep performing.”

For now, she’s focused on Motive, which she shared was finished in between the Candydrip tour, international festival dates, and returning home to Los Angeles. Largely produced by Kaytranada, Motive is the polar opposite of Overgrown, her debut album. In Overgrown, Wrice was fixated on working through troubled situationships, and her writing on tracks like “So Sick” and “Overgrown” reflected that. With this EP, she makes it clear that she’s not in a lovesick phase anymore, the music embodying the confidence and sexiness she’s feeling now both artistically and personally.

This is evident from the EP’s lead single, the Kaytranada-produced “Iced Tea,” an upbeat track where Wrice confidently sings about choosing herself and being carefree. The song, which she shared was recorded a month after Overgrown’s release (additional Kaytranada-produced tracks “Bittersweet Goodbyes” and “Pace Yourself” were also done around this same time), sets the tone for the rest of the EP.

Since the singer set out to create tracks she could dance to, she looked to artists like TDE’s new signee Doechii and the genre-blending artist Doja Cat for inspiration. She was also inspired by pop and R&B artists she grew up listening to as a kid — like Janet Jackson and Britney Spears — to help determine her sound for the project.

“I just wanted to really make music that I can have choreography to, and that everyone else can dance to and feel good to,” she said.

To not fall back into her old habits of creating slow, mellow tracks, she worked with new producers like Kaelin Ellis, Osinachi, Swavy, as well as songwriters like Hadar Adora, Mack Keane, and Trey Campell to challenge herself, spending three to four days a week in the studio.

“This year, creating was very inspiring, and it was a great learning opportunity because [by] collaborating with others, I got to see their process,” she said. “It makes me more excited for my sophomore album.”

Motive is a precursor to her next album, which she revealed is executive produced by D’Mile (who also executive produced Overgrown). Joyce added that she plans to build upon the experimental sound that’s showcased largely on her new EP.

“I just want to have fun, I want to see what other styles I can do, and elevate,” she said.

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