Joya Mooi chats self-preservation off the back of her new single “Don’t Answer”

If there’s one thing Dutch-South African songwriter Joya Mooi takes seriously, it’s self-care. Her latest single “Don’t Answer” is a soothing reminder of just how important it is to set boundaries for yourself, fostering a balance between the pressure of work deadlines and finding time to prioritise peace of mind.

“I think taking a day off, saying no I don’t feel like doing that today or no I’m not going to answer that message today, it needs to be more normal,” Mooi tells me over a video chat. “It’s about tuning into yourself and what you want regarding work, but also how you spend your days, and I need that reminder sometimes,” she continues.

The single is powerfully serene, as Mooi’s softly harmonious vocals call for a break from the incessant demands of a fast-paced world. “I don’t answer / I got time but no, no / Moving where I want / Only leave when I go go”. Major chill vibes all around.

Mooi actually recorded the track in South Africa with production duo EASY FREAK, whose glistening synth influence can be strongly felt. “I really like to be comfortable in the studio when I’m recording,” says Mooi, “and EASY FREAK really helped me achieve that by welcoming me into their space.”

“I think the greatest sessions I’ve had have been in a home,” she continues. “I also usually bring incense and books with me, things that spark my own creativity. EASY FREAK also have a dog, and well I love when there’s a dog around.”

“Don’t Answer” is the first of many in a new direction for Mooi, who is trying to bring more light to her writing. “Making my previous record was a very emotional experience for me,” she says, “and I find that now I’m craving something more positive. I really just want to dance and make music that’s a little more upbeat.”

There is certainly light radiating from this breezy single, but more than that, there’s a sense that Mooi has finally found the self-empowerment she’s been looking for.