Doubling down on her unremitting commitment to dismantling the myopic parameters of a single genre, Moya Rey adds yet another gem to her ever-so-refined and just as progressive palette with the release of “Je pense à toi.”
Translating in English to the endearing phrase: “thinking of you,” “Je pense à toi” is a tasteful concoction of Afrobeat, House and R&B that collide together to culminate in a delightful listening experience of epic magnitude.
Produced by fellow multihyphenate Arty Furtado, “Je pense à toi” was recorded in Paris and was filmed in Brooklyn by Deme Brown, who is a queer, non-binary visual artist from Chicago.
Split at the intersection of two languages: English and French, the diffusion that takes place between languages function as unique portals to Rey’s limitless nuance as an artist and serve as a beautiful canvas of her acumen as an avid purveyor of global culture.
Growing up in a Dominican family and having traveled to over twenty-five countries, Rey prides herself on being a vibrant product of myriad cultures. Currently based in Brooklyn, the 25-year-old singer/songwriter is an outstandingly talented polyglot who is enthralled by routine cultivation of sultry lyrics and empowering sentiments of belief.
Earlier this year, Rey dropped another electrifying, genre-bending single: “Back Up.” In an earnest effort to vent about the daily adversity of “cat-calling” that women oftentimes have to deal with, Rey creates an anthem that is just as uplifting as it is infectious.
Influenced by her initial exposure and travels to South Africa, where she explored the regions of KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town, the lyrical content encompasses the next frontier in Rey’s feminist virtue and queer identity.
Before hopping on yet another flight to gain inspiration for her next entity of art, JaJuan Malachi was able to chat with her about a litany of things including when she developed her affinity for cultivating cross-lingual music, opening up for Caribbean artist Konshens earlier this year, the drive behind her non stop hustle, her future and much more.
Here’s how everything went.
When did you discover your appetite for cultivating cross-lingual music?
I have always been a singer/songwriter. From a young age I would sing in the shower and write love songs. I am a self taught piano player and even tried to pick up guitar and ukulele in high school.
The difference when I got older was when I took French and Portuguese classes. I discovered my appetite for cultivating cross-lingual music during my undergraduate years at New York University. A New York City native, NYU simply expanded the worlds I knew existed and made different cultures more accessible to me through different clubs, language classes and study abroad opportunities. I was inspired by my peers, but I forced myself to put aside my hunger for music because I would always prioritize my school work over my own needs or desires.
However, my creative inclinations still took a life of their own. Although I wasn’t making music, I was writing a lot of poems. In my language classes I always chose to make projects that showed the interconnections of our human experiences and culture through music.
I officially started recording music during the pandemic. I was abroad completing my masters with Columbia University. Once the pandemic hit I no longer held on to the excuse that I had to prioritize my school work before my own spiritual practices, and music is one of those spiritual practices I take seriously.
You definitely communicate your passion for cross-lingual music and culture in your latest single “Je pense à toi”, tell me about this Afrobeat, House and R&B fusion.
“Je pense à toi” was produced by Arty Furtado, who produced three out of the four tracks in my first EP Lost in Translation. “Je pense à toi” is French for “Thinking about you”. I was inspired by the track “Je pense à toi”, written by Amadou & Mariam, a musical duo from Mali. I was really inspired by the west african sounds and in general the beautiful tones. I wanted to emulate some of the cadence for the melodies, all the while bringing forward my own experiences and lyricism. The song originally came to life during the pandemic and I kept reworking it to the final form you are able to hear now.
Tell us about your single “Back Up”. Tell me about this amapiano drill fusion, how did it come to life?
The lyrics for BACK UP were inspired by my experiences as a woman being cat called in the most annoying and offensive ways possible. Specific to this song is my experience visiting my mother and younger sister in the South Bronx and feeling harassed every time I walked out of the house. BACK UP is lowkey a diss track to these random men who are outside trynna holla at young girls. Sometimes I intentionally walk with the most stank facial expression on in order to deflect any unwanted attention, but even that doesn’t work. I still get unwanted cat calls in the most belittling way. So the lyrics are partly about telling these crusty, dusty, musty men to BACK UP.
Since visiting South Africa, I mostly wanted to live out my dream of making a house track. I am also a DJ, and House is my favorite genre to DJ. BSNYEA showed me the different house tracks he’s made and I knew it was finally my time. BSNYEA produced, recorded and engineered the song BACK UP. We layered the Amapiano baseline with drill beats, the Dominican güira, Brazilian cuíca and Brazilian Funk at the end.”
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.
What was the central motivation behind the creation of the “Non-English Collective,” which is aptly described as an arts collective for queer, black, latinx and POC artists?
The non-english collective feels like it formed on its own. I am the co-founder with my friend Gamaliel Arroyo. We are both queer, Caribbean artists in Bushwick. We are both also Leos, which is to say we throw ourselves into art and have a sort of perfectionism attitude.
One day Gami decided he wanted to do an art showcase for his paintings and he asked me to DJ. The night was a success of friends and locals stopping by to show love. Then the Grammys happened and the subtitles for Bad Bunny said [speaking in non-english] and [singing in non-english] which was extremely problematic and rooted in western imperialism. We decided to form a collective, and this media portrayal of racism inspired us to go with the name the non-english collective as satire but also to form community and center the artistic productions of queer, black, latinx and POC artists
Between being an adjunct professor, a DJ, a journalist, a photographer, the cofounder of an art collective for queer, black and brown folks, what would you say motivates your unremitting hustle?
Thank you for seeing the many hats I wear! It just feels natural to create and be in community with other artists of color. I always grew up with a community oriented perspective so it just feels natural to combine art and community and continue to release art works as a form of survival. It is what keeps me balanced and able to navigate the mundane or difficult parts of adulthood.
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.
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!
What’s the best advice you’ve received thus far in your career and from whom?
This may sound so basic, but the best advice I received is to not take things so personal and focus on my own journey. The industry is intense and I’m only now getting started. I just hope to form genuine connections and grow in this way.
Where do you envision Moya Music five years from now?
I feel I am fortunate enough to be able to do what I love. My goal is to monetize off of it and not have to work a regular job. I want all of my creative ventures to sustain me.
To keep up with Moya Rey, check her out on these platforms: