Moliy’s songs are sweet enough to eat, as her lolly emoji predilection on Instagram attests. This 23-year- old Ghanaian talent makes open-hearted love songs and girl power anthems dipped in sensual R&B. The icing on top is her gossamer soft vocals reminding us who’s boss. Moliy calls it afro fusion. We call it simply delicious.
Real name Molly Amah Montgomerie, the Accra- based artist first garnered attention in August 2020 with the aptly named ‘Wondergirl’ EP, which lead to a collaboration with Amaarae – the artist currently spearheading Ghana’s alternative music wave. This experimental scene veers away from the mainstream afrobeats sound that dominates across West Africa with Moliy joining other emerging musicians such as Ria Boss, Asi Renie, Superjazzclub and Gafacci as ones to watch. The world is fast catching onto Molie’s effervescent vibe so we spoke to her to find out what makes her music – and her city – tick.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOUR UPBRINGING IN ACCRA.
M I’ve always been very close to my two older siblings so I’d always tag along with them. My mum wasn’t strict so she allowed us to have fun with life. I started clubbing at the age of 13 and we’d go to wherever was popping.
WHAT WERE YOUR FIRST MUSICAL INFLUENCES?
M My mum used to own an outdoor restaurant where she’d play old school R&B like R Kelly and Destiny’s Child plus highlife like Daddy Lumba. But at home she’d play gospel because she’s a woman of faith. I also had an old laptop but no internet connection so could only play the few songs that were on it. I would listen to Akon over and over again.
WHEN DID YOU START MAKING MUSIC?
M Me and my sister used to make songs and sing together but it wasn’t until I was 19 that I thought about doing music for real. At the time I should have been in college but I couldn’t keep up with the tuition fees so dropped out. I was dating a producer and spent a lot of time in his home studio.
I started helping him write songs and he was like, sing on the mic. I was so chicken but funnily enough the very first melodies we recorded became my first single ‘Johnny’. It’s a song about my insecurities in that relationship. I’m telling him not to mess around with any other girl.
YOUR DEBUT EP ‘WONDERGIRL’ DROPPED IN 2020 – A 6-TRACK RELEASE ABOUT RIDE OR DIE RELATIONSHIPS AND FEMALE EMPOWERMENT. OUR FAVOURITE LINE IS ON ‘GHANA BOP’ – ‘EVERYTHING I DO I’M KILLING IT. I’M THAT SPICE SO YOU NEED SEASONING.’ NAUGHTY BUT NICE.
M Thank you! ‘Ghana Bop’ is about self confidence and bringing yourself up, which is some- thing I’m still working on in real life. Then ‘Loud’ is about being young, forgetting your worries and focussing on good vibes. And the title track is me telling a guy that I’m perfect for him. It’s dreamy, I love it.
HOW HAS THE EP BEEN RECEIVED?
M It’s been pretty good for an unknown artist. I’m getting positive feedback from people I re- spect. I also did my first live show in December. I was a bit shy but my voice didn’t shake and I was smiling the whole time. It’s tough because there are so few opportunities to gain experience due to the pandemic.
The EP pricked the ears of Amaarae, one of Accra’s most exciting alternative music stars, and you and your sister Mellissa aka Princess Adjua appeared on her debut album. That’s a fantastic result. I actually reached out to her two years ago to ask her to mentor me and she was very posi- tive, advising me to keep on going and find my sound. Then once I dropped the EP, she invited us for a session and the song ‘Sad Girlz Luv Money’ was born. Her album is crazy amazing. Knowing a Ghana girl can make music like that and be successful lets me know the possibilities are endless.
SO, IT´S IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN TO STICK TOGETHER IN A MALE-DOMINATED INDUSTRY
M Yes. A lot of girls are asking me for features and I’m more excited about that than doing features with men. It’s so much cooler when a bunch of girls make a hit record! Look out for Princess Adjua, who is coming up. Then there’s Jean Feier and Calaiss. Collectively we can make things happen.
HAVING SAID THAT, YOU DID JUST FEATURE ON MANIFEST LATEST SONG “NO FEAR”. HE IS AN ESTABLISHED NAME SO THAT´S MAJOR COLLABORATION
M That was a great experience. He’s such a brilliant conscious rapper and we shared a great energy in the studio. He made me feel really comfortable so that I could share my ideas. We’re both part of a growing fellowship of artists in Ghana making beautifully rebellious music that young people can relate to.
WHAT IS MAKING ACCRA WIDER CREATIVE SCENE SO VITAL RIGHT NOW?
M What’s happening here is important because it’s youth-led and making change. There is a community growing across disciplines from fashion and music to sports. There’s such a lot going on in all of these fields of creativity.
WHO ARE THE NAMES YOU KNOW?
M The entrepreneur Sandy Alibo is working on opening Freedom Skatepark Accra, which will be Ghana’s first skatepark. I didn’t grow up with one but the next generation will. Joey Lit is one of the guys behind Free The Youth, which is becoming an influential fashion line and creative agency. And the DWP Academy by Dancegod Lloyd and Afrobeast train aspiring dancers. Now their graduates are in all the music videos including Beyoncé’s ‘Already’ with Major Lazer and Shatta Wale.
WOULD YOU AGREE THE CONTEMPORARY ART SCENE IN ACCRA IS BOOMING?
M Absolutely. There have been several spaces opening up like ADA / contemporary art gallery and Nubuke Foundation but my favourite is the Noldor Artist Residency by Joseph Awuah- Darko, which has been set up an old pharmacy building and serves as an incubator for local.