Duo OY, 10 Years of Joy

Duo OY, 10 Years of Joy

For the past decade, I’ve had the delight of witnessing Joy Frempong gracefully donning Tata Christiane‘s attire on stage alongside her companion Marcel Blatti aka Melodydreamer in Starstyling, 2 emblematique Berlin Designers. As we commemorate the 10-year milestone since their first collaborative album, “No Problem Saloon” and my encounter with them. We have gathered here a collection of their photos featuring the duo, along with an exclusive interview for Tata Christiane. This interview sheds light on their distinctive approach and their unique musical universe.

OY, 14 Years of Joy

Photography : Nana Kofi Acquah

Berlin-based duo OY, comprised of singer-musician Joy Frempong and producer-musician Marcel Blatti, aka Melodydreamer, emerged onto the music scene with their symbiotic avant-pop sound.

Their collaborative journey began with the release of their debut album “No Problem Saloon” in 2014, a masterful blend of African landscapes and wisdom. Signed under Belgian label Crammed Discs, the duo OY ventured into outer space with their critically acclaimed concept album “Space Diaspora” in 2016, where retro and modern sounds intertwined harmoniously.

OY, 14 Years of Joy

Photography : Nana Kofi Acquah

With a vibrant stage presence, the duo OY’s performances enchant festival-goers with their storytelling and rhythmic prowess, pushing the boundaries of music. Their global influence has led to over 300 shows in more than 20 countries, including appearances at renowned festivals like Les Transmusicales, Sonar, and Montreux Jazz.

In March 2023, OY released their latest album “World Wide We,” reaffirming their ability to address societal issues while spreading a message of optimism through their music.

OY, 14 Years of Joy

Photography : Roberta Sant Ann

With this interview, we embark on a journey to uncover the origins of OY, explore their innovative approach to music and visuals, and delve into the inspiration behind their captivating performances. Join us as we unravel the colorful tapestry of  OY’s creative universe, where every note and every image tells a story waiting to be heard and seen.

OY, 14 Years of Joy

Photography by Sash Seurat Samson

Can you tell us about the origin of the band name “OY”? What does it signify or represent to you?

Joy: It came playfully – from Joy to OY – and started out as a solo project with songs based on childhood memories. After a short while we became a duo, so the name has represented us both for a very long time now. We like how it sticks out on festival lineups.

Photography : Dominik Meier

Your music blends various genres and influences. How would you describe the sound of OY to someone who hasn’t heard your music before?

Marcel&Joy: In short it’s simply global-pop or electronic avant-pop with vocals and live-drums. We like to create an inviting energy in a mix of many styles. Some of our signature tracks might be the ones with tribal and driving drums combined with melodic hooks and you will immediately recognise the OY sound and spirit although every album has its own story and style. Our taste in music aligns with our general suspicion of borders – we definitely fit under the umbrella of ‘genre bending’ bands.

OY, 14 Years of Joy

Photography : Nana Kofi Acquah – Joy Frempong wearing Tata Christiane /
Lleluja-Ha: masque et concepte: Victoria Behr
Mantel: Starstyling

What inspires the themes and lyrics in your songs? Are there any particular stories or experiences that have influenced your songwriting?

Joy: I always try to find a story that holds an album together and influences the composition and choice of sounds. So there is usually quite a long research period before every album. In one case I did a trip to several African countries (Ghana, Burkina Faso, Mali, South Africa, Mozambique, Kingdom of Eswati) to find field recordings as well as modern and traditional stories which shaped the songs. Back then we were quite radical with reducing the electronic part of the music almost entirely to these chopped up sounds from everyday life in Africa. So you have many quite rough sounding sounds, like the sound of a washing machine for a bass, or the sound of a baby or bird for a melody, or even a squeaking car break was pitched to create a melody.

Marcel: We still love and use that system to this very day but extended the sound palette over the years – on our Afrofuturistic Sci-fi Opera “Space Diaspora” as well as on our latest 2023 album “World Wide We”. For our new songs we’re currently collecting street art from cities we tour in as inspiration for lyrics. We’ll be listening to the walls around us and looking out for messages in public spaces.

OY, 14 Years of Joy

Photography : Dominik Meier

 OY has performed at various venues and festivals worldwide. What have been some of the most memorable moments or performances for the band?

Joy: A tour in Spain took us to vast and beautiful landscapes in very different corners of the country, from the Canary Islands to the Pyrenees. We also played to probably the biggest audiences we’ve ever had, with 7000 people welcoming us warmly without previously knowing our music. These shows were actually a follow up from a festival gig on Zanzibar, an equally memorable experience. This mystical island really impressed us with its mesmerising atmosphere and historical mix of cultures. We even had the opportunity to spend two weeks there to write songs. Our show there felt like a small explosion, the energy immediately transferring to the audience.

Photography : Dominik Meier

The costumes seems to be a significant aspect of your work. Can you discuss your approach to collaborating with designers and how do you choose your outfits?

Marcel: In our live shows we like to transform both ourselves and the audience from a daily life status into a liberating space. Costumes are one of the key elements to achieve that. They help us to become some sort of shamanic or dreamlike figures and use the stage in its almost historical form. As we are influenced by theatre and storytelling it seemed to be a natural and suitable choice to do this. From the beginning we ended up working pretty close with costume and fashion designers who have a very unique style.


“Made Of Love”, from DUO OY’s album “Space Diaspora”. Buy/Stream : http://smarturl.it/spacediaspora Live dates: http://www.oy-music.com/tour Directed by Moritz Reichartz http://www.momade.de/

How do you see the evolution of OY’s sound and style over the years? Are there any specific directions or experiments you’re interested in exploring in the future?

Marcel: Like all forms of art, music is always shaped by and speaking about the time in which it’s created. The probably strongest energy around is naturally the “now” so if my sensors are still working and I’m still listening to the world I can’t stick to some musical form simply because it once shaped my 20 year old self. So although I’m still very much in love with older and old music I was always most inspired and interested in new styles and genres that popped up over the years.

OY, 14 Years of Joy

Your music videos often feature captivating visuals and storytelling. What role do visuals play in complementing your music, and how involved are you in the conceptualization of your music videos?

Marcel: Although music is probably the most direct art form that transcends light-footed across cultures, languages and social status, we in fact do live in an aera of “the image” – maybe rooted in the speedy pace our societies has taken on.

Joy: As we both love almost every visual art form we try to extend our music with resonating forms like advanced 3D animations, photography or visuals. Which like costumes, are a great way to take people away from the boundaries of reality into the vastness of imagined spaces. So all these forms are a part of our creative language and we’re strongly involved in concepts and scripts of the clips and lucky to have found super talented people to work with.

OY, 14 Years of Joy

Photography by Sash Berg

 Your visual universe, both in your stage costumes and in your videos, is bathed in a rich and varied palette of colors. Synesthesia seems to be Rimbaud’s way of exploring states of consciousness and deep sensory experiences. To what extent might this apply to the way you work?

Joy: For us, the use of colours also symbolises that we embrace and celebrate the positive aspects of life. It could be seen as an expression of gratitude. While we can’t close our eyes to failure of societies and systems, we actively seek and succeed to generate positive energy for ourselves and our communities.

OY, 14 Years of Joy

Photography by Sash Berg