Belgian electro pop duo Joy Wellboy on life, love and joking about The Clash’s drummer

 Joy Adegoke and Wim Janssens live, love and work together. As Belgian electro pop duo Joy Wellboy, they’ve just played support to Angus Stone in Brussels’ Botanique and are planning the release of their debut album “Let’s make love before we die” for February next year. We spoke to the happy couple, one a dreamer and the other an organiser, about being different from each other and the ups and downs of sharing professional and personal lives . 

Why is working as a duo better than going it alone?

J:  It’s perfect because we’re so complementary. We’re very different. I’m the dreamy one and he’s the more organised one.

What’s it like when it comes to your music… do you have different tasks?

W: Many times we start off with a melody and that mostly comes from her. Then she gives me some ideas about the sound and I start working on it and arranging and producing the song.

Can working as a team be harder than working alone?

W: No. Even though I enjoy working alone, if you have the chance to work with someone that you really respect as a musician, that’s just great. She’s my mirror.

J: If you can work together with someone you really click with, the end result will always be better than when doing it alone. It takes time, though, to make it work. In the beginning it’s hard.

What was difficult in the beginning?

W: To find a way to work together, because we are both quite difficult people. Plus we are very different, and a bit crazy.

J: There’s a lot of energy and in the beginning it can be destructive because you just want to move forward and not listen to the other’s opinion. But you have to channel these energies in a way that they are transformed into creativity. You have to find a way to understand each other.

W: Or walk away, if it doesn’t fit.

Are there ever moments you wish you were on your own?

J: Of course we argue, sometimes about the stupidest things. Once he really flipped out because I made a joke about the drummer from The Clash.

What are the things you disagree on?

J: Just everything, sometimes! It’s so difficult to say because we’re also a couple and live together. So it’s not that easy to separate the music from our personal lives.

Would you say two is better than three? Or do you sometimes wish you were more?

W: Yes, when you say three, it kind of means it could be anybody else. I used to play in bands with just one leader and that was fine, too. But in a duo you have to be really connected, both need to be able to lead and also to step back for a moment. But three’s a crowd, as they say. I don’t want to discuss things with a third person.

J: We do sometimes play gigs with a third person, but it’s not the same thing, because he just shows up and he does what we tell him to do, basically. It took us a while to find him though, because we wanted a nice energy on stage.

Do you ever feel alone?

W: Yes, and it’s beautiful. Then you look at the other person and say “I feel quite lonely today” and she comes over and hugs you.

F: I think I don’t give him enough time to feel alone, though!

In what moments do you feel especially alone?

W: Every day there are these moments, when you are really inside your head, inside your thoughts. But that’s something we should cherish.

J: And it’s an illusion to think you’re not alone, even if you’re in a couple. But that’s not a negative thing. Regarding the music, I feel really alone when we’re on stage and the sound is bad and I feel like no one is getting our message.

Is it all 50/50?

W: That’s not even important. Somebody can be good at just one thing but if it’s the amazing extra that makes it all happen, it’s enough. We just work together very hard and don’t think about it. And some people can lie down for nine hours a day and then stand up and say one amazing sentence and others write the whole day and cannot even get one word right.

Can you remember what it was like for you before your life as a duo, a couple?

J: When I met him I had so many ideas and everything was going here and there and nowhere and he put my feet on the ground.

So you were already doing music?

J: Yes, but I could never find someone that I really wanted to work with and share everything with. But with him I feel very inspired. I feel so much better with him, more creative, I have more ideas. And I feel like nothing can harm us. It’s good to not feel afraid. It’s very motivating.

W: I was also already doing music before and photography, which I still do, but now I love it much more. It’s so much fun with her. Before I always had to instigate the ideas and push people, but now I have someone on the same level, that I have this certain energy with and that I respect as a musician, an artist, a singer. I look around and I see nobody else. Ok, there are other good singers out there with different tones and different voices and different stories to tell, and they are also good, but I love her manic part and her precision of the melodies.

J: The thing that’s also nice is that we stand in life with the same vision, we know what we want and we go in the same direction. And we don’t only make music, we also take pictures and shoot videos, he added this whole visual part to the equation.

W: That’s the most interesting part: The differences. It keeps you awake.