Møya Rey’s Latest single, “Je pense à toi”, is a multi-lingual masterpiece
møya rey is a Brooklyn based independent recording artist. A multi-talented polyglot, she delivers sultry and empowered lyrics. Having grown up in New York City to a Dominican family, and traveling to over twenty-five countries, møya rey is influenced by a myriad of cultures. Her latest single “Je pense à toi” (Translation: Thinking of you) is evocative of a diverse blend of sounds, she synthesizes multiple genres such as Afrobeat, House and R&B. Written in English & French, the different languages serve as bridges between the verses and choruses and unify her many sensibilities.
“Je pense à toi” (produced by Arty Furtado) was recorded in Paris, France, møya’s home away from home. Her music video was filmed in Brooklyn by Deme Brown, a queer, non-binary visual artist from Chicago. The two Leo’s collaborated on a beautifully executed visual production.
2023 is a year of much growth for møya. From her Debut TV appearance on Bronx Net TV, to opening up for Konshens, shooting a Pride Campaign with Skittles and performing for VFILES, there is no telling what else møya is able to accomplish.
Earlier in the year, møya released BACK UP is evocative of a diverse blend of sounds, she synthesizes multiple genres such as Amapiano House, Drill and Hip Hop. Her latest single BACK UP is influenced by her travels to South Africa in 2019, where she explored KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town. The lyrical components show us a new layer of møya rey‘s feminist ideas and queer identity. Her goal is to make you dance and embrace your identity.
Tell me the inspiration behind your recent single “Je pense à toi”
Overall this song is inspired by different periods in my life and the overall feeling of prevailing against heart break. I moved to Paris in August 2019. Consequently, I was there when the global pandemic hit March of 2020. Je pense à toi (French for thinking of you), although it wasn’t called this at the time, is a song that I started working on before the pandemic. In Paris, I was staying with a host family who had several instruments and a lot of open space. To keep myself busy during the pandemic I wrote a lot of songs and recorded all my demos on their top floor.
During this time I kept trying to create the perfect melody for a French poem I had written.
Je te laisse souffler / d’où je t’ai caché/ dans ma mémoire /j’ai préféré oublier / de tout ce que t’as fait / pour me rendre faible / mais suis incapable / de ne pas m’aimer
(This translates to : I let wind blow you away, it removed you from where I hid you… in the depths of my memories. I preferred to forget everything that you did to make me feel weak, but I am incapable of not loving myself.)
I grew up speaking English and Spanish. I learned French and Portuguese as a student at New York University. I was hurt about a love interest not working out back in New York and found that writing in French made it easier to process my feelings. I wasn’t as attached to the language so I could process my feelings more abstractly.
During February 2020, before the lockdown, I met a Balenciaga model who was in town for Paris Fashion Week. Long story short he was my “quaran-bae” into the summer of the pandemic. From ten hour FaceTime calls, to listening to Deepak Chopra meditation tapes and the resurgence of Black Lives Matter protests, we were virtually connected. That situationship ended because of his lack of emotional maturity. He kind of spiraled when I called him out on something. I’m not gonna lie, it kinda hurt lol, but also we met in person twice so it wasn’t really that deep.
Fast forward to November of 2020 I reconnected with my “quaran-bae” and we wrote a song together. I showed him the song Je pense à toi by Amadou & Mariam, a musical duo from Mali. Instantly inspired by the West African influence, he produced a beat on Garageband and I sang whatever came to mind in the moment. He never sent me the garage band with all the stems and we never spoke again. It felt like the song was going to die.
Fast forward again to New Years eve, my friend Arty Furtado, who produced my first EP, Lost in Translation, randomly sent me three new beats. The instrumentation to Je pense à toi was in this pack and I started reworking the French lyrics I mentioned earlier to fit the melody of the new production. I combined the French verses I wrote during the start of the pandemic, with the harmonies and bridges I had recorded with my “quaran-bae”.
When writing, how do you get into a creative headspace?
I alluded to this a bit in the previous question. For this song specifically I was piecing together parts of different songs/poems and making it a stand alone work.
In general, writing feels like a very spiritual process. Sometimes I journal some poems that I later “rediscover” when I try singing them on a beat. Other times, I’ll play the track and record whatever words I am feeling at the moment. This was especially the case for my first EP, Lost in Translation. I think the words were just waiting to be released.
How do you turn personal experiences, whether good or bad, into inspiration for music?
Music helps me process a lot of the feelings I feel I push to the side. From being a student at the graduate level, to now being a professor at a university, and overall adulting in a fast paced environment like NYC, music allows me to pause and process my experiences, emotions and growth.
How’d you enjoy your Debut TV appearance on Bronx Net TV? That was major!
I absolutely loved having my Debut TV appearance on Bronx Net TV. This happened in January of this year, which was an amazing way to start off the year. It was the first moment I felt like all my hard work was paying off. I think it set a precedent for all that is to come – that I will reap the seeds I sowed and have abundance.
How was it opening up for Konshens? That’s such a surreal milestone.
Opening for Konshens was extremely surreal and also a full circle moment. The Caribbean Students Association (CSA) at NYU reached out to me as an alumna and asked if I would be interested in performing for their end of the year concert. I immediately jumped on the opportunity. As I mentioned, I wasn’t releasing music during undergrad, so it felt like a full circle moment to be invited back to my university to perform my EP. I got a lot of love from the current students and I am very grateful.
Also Konshens in general is a vibe! He definitely plays at parties and clubs. When I was an NYU student in CSA, we also definitely were listening to his music then.
I hear you shot a Pride Campaign with Skittles, what was that experience like?
I truly did not expect this! One of the producers reached out to me directly with the opportunity. Like I said about BronxNet TV, this experience considers to set a precedence for what I am able to accomplish. I love all things creative, and I feel 2023 is the year where I manifest a lot of what I’ve been praying for. I’m more active and willing to show up for myself like I would have shown up for work or school. I am so grateful I can be on a Skittles campaign and that someone will see me and think “she looks like me”. This is the greatest impact I can have, to do what I love and to show girls that look like me that they can too.
Who are some artists you’d love to collaborate with?
Since I speak four languages, my music catalog is so vast! I would love to collaborate with the black musicians that inspired me the most.
Stromae is definitely number one on the list. He is a Belgian/Rwandan musician and I literally learned French by studying and translating his lyrics.
Mayra Andrade has also been extremely influential. She is a world artist from Cabo Verde, I definitely believe our music compliments each other. She also speaks a lot of languages, so it would be very powerful to connect and collaborate with her.
A new artist that I love is Yendry, she’s a Dominican-Italian artist who also sings in several languages. I think we have a lot in common as far as cultural backgrounds, languages, age and genres so it would be cool to expand audiences and create with her.
I am also really into artists such as Ibeyi, Jorja Smith, Ama Lou, Jill Scott, Lauryn Hill and many others!
Your music is a bit of genre-blurring with afrobeats, r&b and more. How did this style come about?
I would say Afrobeat was my favorite genre of music through all of undergrad at NYU. R&B is a genre most if not all of us have either grown up with or been exposed to. I guess my vocal lessons came from singing along to Alicia Keys, Adele and gospel music in my room. My voice is naturally soulful and sultry.
Melding afrobeat into my R&B vocals allows me to have sad lyrics on something upbeat. Alot of Latin music is like this. For example Salsa is heavily associated with dancing, but a lot of lyrics are about heartbreak, poverty, imperialism, racism, slavery etc. I didn’t notice it as much when I was younger, but now the lyrics really stand out. In the same vein, I’ve wanted to have “in my bag lyrics” that girls could dance to in front of the mirror.
We know you have a penchant for keeping super busy per usual, what do you have in store?
Haha! Yes, I definitely love to be working on projects and being extremely hands on.
I am currently working on the post production process for three new singles; “Tourbillon”, “Eternelle Chanel” and “Expectations”. I directed and produced all of them! I am currently in the post production process for Tourbillon- I am editing and color grading it with the support of my friend and filmography Deme Brown. “Eternelle Chanel” and “Expectations” were filmed this summer in Paris, France by the same videographer who shot and edited my second single “Open Letter”. I can’t wait to see how these two turn out!
CONNECT WITH MØYA REY
Stream “Je pense à toi” → HERE
Stream the EP “Lost in Translation” –> HERE
Watch her video for “Je pense à toi” on YouTube
Watch her video for “Open Letter” on YouTube
Watch her video for “Transatlantic Calls” on YouTube
“Transatlantic Calls” live on BronxNet TV on YouTube
“Transatlantic Calls” with a live band on YouTube
Watch her video for “Long Distance” on Youtube