Honeydoom … Love Lines From Africa’s Songbird
Her lithe vocals pierce through the solitude, as soon as I started to listen. It’s mid-day and her just-released album, Honeydoom, is all the company I have, and need.
For some people, the songbird Molly Ama Montgomery, professionally known as Moliy, is a muse for aspiring free-spirited singers, especially with her musical and fashion expressions. For others, the Ghanaian-American chanteuse is a salve for aching hearts. In actuality, the young singer is a blend of both worlds, with a wholesome discography propelling her as one of the most progressive female singers out of Africa.
Listening to Honeydoom comes with a mix of emotions. For Moliy, who collaborated with her Ghanaian counterpart Amaarae on her 2021 global smash hit, Sad Girls Luv Money, the entire album reverberates with strongly relatable themes of love, romance and mental wellness. Collaborating with leading African acts, including P.Priime and Moonchild Sanelly, Moliy pours out her heart using her silky, whispery vocals on this record.
While addressing her lovesickness in Love Doc might conjure a few goose bumps, the Mellissa and DJ Radix-assisted collab in Human is likely to evoke tears from your eyes. Collectively, Honeydoom is an uplifting record, with enough melodies to dance or reflect to, giving Moliy a chance to share pieces of her heart via her art.
Juggling life as an alternative RnB/Pop princess, creating emotive records, and living life on her own terms, Moliy is definitely a wonder to behold, and to listen to. After spending a few days in Lagos, Nigeria, promoting her album, she catches up with Guardian Music from London, where she opens up on her muses, her journey, and the silent-but-ignored realities of Honeydoom.
Congratulations on your new project. How do you feel at this level?
I AM really excited now that it’s out in the world. It hasn’t been easy. You know, this is something that I put so much work into and obviously, I know there are some great songs in it. I’m just hopeful and excited to see how everyone receives it. It’s really exciting.
So, looking at the project itself, how long did it take to get here?
I think the songs on the project… it’s like a span of two years.
Let’s go back to before those two years, where did the journey begin?
I was actively recording music from 2017, but it was in 2020 that I released my first EP. So, before that, I have been creating since 2017.
What type of sound were you gunning for when you started creating?
Yeah, I was listening to the music that was already out at that time I started creating. It was great, but I felt like something is missing in the Ghanaian music industry; something that I could feel in terms of when creating, because I wasn’t seeing what my intentions were. I wasn’t seeing anything being done already, you know.
So, what influenced you sound?
I think at first, I was thinking about it from a writing point of view, like in terms of music that people write. If you really look at Afrobeats music, sometimes the lyricism can be very general, overused; everyone is kind of recycling the same thing, content and it’s a vibe. At the same time, I wanted to actually tell stories with my music.
So, I’m always coming from the angle of ‘what does this song mean? What am I trying to say? What do I want people to get from this?’ So, definitely, the messages always come first before even like the rhyming, the melody and all of that. I feel like I’m always trying to make some sense out of the songs I’m creating. Like it’s never just that simple.
What about specific names of people?
Yeah, it’s actually so many, but I know that mentally, I pick from you know, like Akon, Micheal Jackson, I love Rihanna, Wizkid; he’s amazing. I really feel like those would be like my nature of people, artistes or sounds that kind of inspire me.
Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?
The first song I ever wrote is titled, Journey, and it was released on my first project. That was the first song I completed and I was like, ‘yeah, I’m going to put this out.’
What was the feedback like when you started creating music?
It really started from social media. The first thing I did was pick up my phone and take videos of myself, like doing freestyles. I didn’t even do covers, I just started with freestyles, like writing my own songs and I would post them and engage the reactions. It wasn’t like a huge reaction, but at the same time, there were people who were like, ‘yo, this is dope.’
So, I’m literally the kind of person that when I hear something positive, that’s the only thing that’s going to keep me going. Like it doesn’t have to be the whole room. If there’s one person in the room that likes what I’m doing, then I’m good; I know I’m doing something right.
Did you have any parallel ambition at the time that sort of distracted you from making music full time?
I think education at some point. I was meant to go to University and I stopped doing that. I just gave all my attention to the music.
Why did you stop school?
It was kind of like an out-of-my-control situation, because school is really expensive, especially when you are trying to do it outside of Africa. Like, you’re paying out to stay tuition. I guess I didn’t anticipate how much that would take, like the toll. So, it’s just like, ‘okay, I’m just going to go back home now.’
What were you studying then?
I was studying Business Administration, but at the same time, I didn’t really know what I was going to do with that. It’s not like it was a passion of mine, it was just like a subject in school that I wasn’t bad at, you know.
But then my favorite subject was English, because I really love writing, like essays and stories. That was my one A star subject.
What do you consider to be your greatest strength as an artiste?
I didn’t know, but I really like that I’m able to just sing what I mean. I think it’s a great skill to be able to actually put into words, a feeling and also put it into words in a way that people actually want to sing those words. It’s almost like knowing how people want to feel and putting it in the music for them.
I feel like it’s the craziest thing actually, because you hear a song and you are belching out the lyrics. You don’t know why you are doing it, but it’s because you relate to the feeling for someone who is able to put it into words before you’re now enjoying it.
So, why is this project called Honeydoom?
So, I knew I wanted to make a project. I knew like the emotions were hovering around the project that I wanted to create and I think I wanted something to identify that, to literally explain it in one way and I think the perfect word for it was “Honey Doom” because I didn’t want something that was already done.
If I was going to go with the ideal thing that came at the top of my head, I would say “Bitter Sweet” but that’s been done. So, what’s another way I could say it that would really put a question mark in people’s head, like what is she trying to say, and I think the best way was Honeydoom. If you want to go about the meaning of Honeydoom, there are two ways. One is like a honeymoon, but it’s extremely bad. You know the honeymoon part of a relationship, that’s when things are fresh and the love is just there. You always want to talk to that person, like that’s the first person you think about when you wake up. That’s just the honeymoon phase of a relationship.
So, Honeydoom is almost like the time when the moments were captured, not things have gone really bad. In another way, I feel like Honeydoom is just a way to express another emotion. It sounds like an emotion to me. It’s kind of like a balance between high high, and low lows and in between- it’s kind of like a balance.
Have you ever considered singing in Twi (native dialect in Ghana)?
My whole life, I have been speaking English. So, that’s what comes natural to me. To me, it’s about the sound and the feeling. If the pronunciation and everything is how I want it to sound and it’s doing what I want it to do, then yeah, I would if I am able to do that; I wouldn’t hesitate. It’s really about the sound and the feeling.
That’s what comes first.
Are your works based on personal experiences?
Yeah, a lot of it is based on personal experience, a majority of them.
What was the most painful song to write on?
I think Human. I remember when I came home, after revising it, I was just listening and I had goose bumps. It was just so sad, but it’s also motivational.
What is your creative process like?
Actually for the songs, I have the beats first but on the album, the only one that I had the idea in my head before recording it is Freak. I had the idea for the hook, ‘I’m not your freak anymore…’ That was in my head and the way it sounded. I was like this needs to be a disco track. So, I actually went to the studio and was like, ‘I need you to make me a disco beat, you know.’ So, that one was more intentional, but everything else was inspired by the instrumentals. When I hear them, I write something.
So, you spend lots of time checking what type of instruments work for you?
Yeah, I’m just that kind of person, you know. I know people who are like super aware of what they want. Like they go to the studio, and they be like, ‘today, I want to feel like I’m in Germany.’ So, they find some German inspiration and things like that. I’m not that type of person. I need to hear something and like it and tell you I like it or if I don’t like it. That’s just me; it’s very simple.
What was the session with P.Priime like?
That was an interesting session. He came to our recording camp and someone connected me to him, because he was down to work with emerging artistes. So, yeah, I linked with him and it was like two sessions.
We did a bunch of vibes but Prisoner is like the one song that we fully completed. I actually had the main idea of the song written already, and when I heard the beat, I felt like it fit perfectly.
So, sometimes you pre-write?
Yeah, sometimes I pre-write. Or I’ve done a song and maybe I didn’t necessarily like how it came out so then I will pre-record it in a different way.
Sad Girls Luv Money was a major break for you. Tell us how you bagged that collaboration?
I did, you know. As soon as I heard that song, I’m like this is massive, because I’m someone who likes paying attention to details. And around that time, I know there was a surfacing of like songs that were motivational or empowering. It was a thing going on. I was hearing different songs from different artists and I knew that was a thing. So, I knew that was a good way to go or a good direction to go.
But I don’t know. I just feel like so many different things just manifested into that moment, because I have been looking forward to working with Amaarae, and she knew because I had been contacting her; she was open. She responded to me, but she never said ‘let’s go ahead and do it,’ you know.
After I dropped my debut EP, Wonder Girl, was when she was finally like, ‘yeah, let’s get into the studio,’ because she had heard my song fully. So, she sent me those beats and I loved it like, I loved both of them; the instrumental for Sad Girls Luv Money was among the beats. I was just thinking like ‘yo, I’m going to fuck this all the way up.’
Amaarae is one of the few artistes in Ghana doing something different and to me, that’s where I want to be. So, I just really appreciate her being open and I knew I was going to give her something massive.
Actually, that song yeah, some of the inspirations or even the lyrics behind it, I had had them like years before, especially the lyrics. I had that vibe for like so many years and I finally found a way to put it in there. So, when I literally did, when I literally sat down and thought about it like that song was years in the making, but only recorded in like a couple of hours. It’s crazy how things come together, you know.
You gave off different personalities on this album, from the ‘Bad Girl Riri’ energy to the ‘Adele’ energy. What side of Moliy do you prefer?
The reason why I am doing all the versions of Moliy now is because I don’t want to be just one thing. Like Micheal Jackson was not just one thing; Michael Jackson made love music, party music while he also made music that could make you cry. I want to be well-rounded; I want to be known for all of it.
Do you ever come around to Lagos?
Yeah, I came for the first time in October. While the project was released, I was in Lagos. So that’s cool.
What’s next for you?
We’ll, have to see. With people, it’s like they are watching on the sidelines, but I am actually watching with you. No idea of what I’m going to do. Like no idea of what is going to happen. I have no idea I would be here.
I’m in London now for the first time; I had a listening party for the project. I’m doing things I never thought I would do years ago when I started music. So, I’m literally like watching my life unfold before me every single day.