May 2022 Cover Star: MOLIY

In 2021, just as the world was adjusting to the post-pandemic reality, Moliy Montgomery was catapulted to fame courtesy of her contribution on Amaarae’s “Sad Girls Luv Money”—an ethereal mix of Afropop and R&B which became an globe-trotting anthem for ladies across the world who were weary of the festering restrictions of the lockdown and yearning for the banal freedoms of the pre-pandemic era. In many ways, the song crystallised the zeitgeist of the time and went to break new ground: It was one of the most sensational tunes on TikTok in 2021 and peaked at No.1 on the Most Shazamed Songs chart and No. 80 on the Billboard Hot 100. 

Now, just one year after this euphoric high, Molly returns with a gleaming new 3-pack mini-project ‘Mahogany Street’, and with it a more Afrocentric sound — one that aims to tether her to her people, to her home, Ghana. “It’s inspired by my neighbourhood, that’s what I’m saying, I really want people to know I’m from Ghana and I’m out here making the kind of music that I do, I want it to be known.”  

There are very few artists that have been able to bend the mammoth that is Afropop to reflect and accentuate their idiosyncrasies as much as Molly. Beyond her dreamy ethereal beats and her breezy enrapturing voice, there’s something about her message and the rawness with which she tells her truth. 

Every line she fashions encapsulates a poignant message that resonates with her audience. In her music, she explores themes of sombre angst and gnawing sadness but also teeming joy and youthful ebullience. These are the qualities that have earned her a growing audience and indicate a momentous career ahead for her.  

Ahead of the release of ‘Mahogany Street’, Molly spoke to The Native about her sophomore EP, connecting back to her roots in Ghana and her illustrious ascent to fame.

NATIVE: How was growing up for you?

Moliy: It was good, I have two siblings, we were always doing fun stuff together, creating music together, playing games together, watching movies together, going to school together. It felt very, you know, family oriented 

NATIVE: Interesting, did you say making music together? 

Moliy: Yeah, while being together, maybe on the way to school, we would be singing gospel songs together in the car?

NATIVE: Oh, I actually thought you guys were making music in a studio

Moliy: Oh no. (Laughs). Just for fun, just for vibes.

NATIVE: Are you the only musician in your family? 

Moliy: My sister does music as well, she’s been on two features with me already. One with Amaarae and one with BOJ. She goes by Melissa.

NATIVE: Melissa? Oh she’s your sister?

Moliy: Yeah she is.

NATIVE: How inclined were you to music as a child? 

Moliy: Just like any other child, I enjoyed music. When I was a teenager, I started really enjoying Hip Hop music, like, Eminem, Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj and I also started enjoying Highlife music, I started enjoying Azonto music, you know, all of these influences. At that time there weren’t really streaming platforms, it was more like burning music into CDs, so, it was more like I’d be my own DJ and find the hottest new sounds that I really enjoyed and just create a playlist of them and just be listening to them on the way to school. 

I think I was even more of a reserved person, constantly just wanting to listen to music more than being extremely social, if you get me. But it wasn’t really like a thing where I saw myself as an artist, I thought I really enjoyed music and I thought my voice was cool, I felt like if I wanted to do it I could but I didn’t see it as a career or what I wanted to do until I finished high school. I was trying to do the whole Uni thing, I bailed on that and I came back to Ghana and that’s when I started getting into music for real and actually trying to create records, because prior to all that I was just a really shy person. I never really gave it a go until that moment.

NATIVE: Can you throw some light on the period you spent in America for university? 

Moliy: It was very brief. I was doing business studies, like business administration in Florida, and it couldn’t have been a year before I pulled out. But prior to that I wasn’t actually living in America. I’ve always been living in Ghana and it was when I was going to Uni that I went out there, so then, I stayed for like a couple years but then it wasn’t entirely schooling the whole time. So I tried going to Uni and then, I also did a basic job, I was working at Victoria’s Secret, you know (laughs) in that kind of work , it’s like you’re in service to people. You have to engage with people constantly and try and entice them to purchase something and it was new to me, it was something that I feel made me come out of my shell. But then, I still felt like it really wasn’t for me. My back was killing me, fam, so I was like “Nah I can’t do this either”. 

I think it was about that time that I decided to come back and make this happen. I was like, “you know what, I’m gonna come back to Ghana for one year”, that was my plan, one year. And I came with my sister, it was around November 2019 and as soon as we got there we were connecting, recording, doing all sorts of things, just like for January or February, for the lockdown to actually happen during the whole Covid thing. So it was like, that whole plan and whatever I came to do and all of my intentions were just in the air then, cos everyone was supposed to stay home. It’s the mandate, and we had to figure out a way to keep recording, so we had this little set up at home. 

I don’t think anybody would have been like “I’m still gonna drop an EP during this period” cos it was so random, and it was like, “with what’s actually going on, would it be a good idea? Is this gonna work out?” But at the same time I felt like I have this timeline that I’ve given myself, so am I really gonna drop all that because of this unexpected thing going on, but I felt like I had to do something because I didn’t want time to get away from me. I didn’t actually have a plan but I had the music together cos I had been working with the producers that made my EP. When I had the project together, the last song that I created was “Wonder Girl” and that was the one song that put the whole project together because it kinda helped me create an identity for myself as an artiste and at that point, I got connected to my current manager.

NATIVE: How was the process of working on your previous EP?

Moliy: I wasn’t always aware that I was making an EP, I was just creating honesty, so there’s like a bunch of other tracks that I halve but for some reason I pieced these ones together and like I said it was the final song “Wondergirl” that made it seem like a project to me, I felt like it was kind of me telling a story at that point with my experiences. All the tracks tell a story on their own. I was just trying to show all of the different things I could do and put it in a project.

NATIVE: You mentioned your music influences a while ago, so, who were the artistes you looked up to growing up? 

Moliy: I really love Michael Jackson, I like R2bees, I don’t know it’s like a whole lot, different styles of music I like. I wouldn’t even say it only just the artistes but like the songs and the songwriters involved, and melodies and different genres. Cos’ it all plays a role, I was exposed to a lot, different kinds of music.

NATIVE: How did the moniker Moliy come about, and is it in any way related to the drug?

Moliy: No, no, oh my God! (laughs). I’m half American, so I think my name is inspired from the whole American name Molly, cos my Dad’s American. My mum named me Molly, so my name is actually spelt “Moliy”, but it’s in no way affiliated to the drug. That’s why I specifically changed my artiste-name from Moliy, now the spelling is different, so come on, you guys don’t have a reason to affiliate it.

NATIVE: Can you tell us about your impending projects? 

Moliy: I’m doing two projects this year, one is like a mini EP, just three tracks,  and it’s coming out this month on the 28th called “Mahogany Street”. That one is kind of like, if feel like more Afro- themed, Afro-Reggae, and yeah I’m hoping it can show people that I identify with Afrobeats and that I’m Ghanaian, because I think some people miss the point, that I’m Ghanaian and that I’m Afro influenced. So that’s mostly the point of this project but then my other EP, that one it’s going to have its own story and it’s own ideas and I feel like it’s going to show my growth, more of my versatility and it’s really exciting, I can’t wait for people to hear what I’ve been working on.

NATIVE: How was the process working on your soon-to-be released project in comparison to the ‘Wondergirl’ EP?

Moliy: There’s definitely more planning, there’s more teamwork involved, there’s bigger ways to make it reach the right ears. The first time was random, but this is definitely more intentional. I’m trying to make this my career, I’m trying to go far with this and attain higher heights, so of course I’m trying to put out my best work, and I’m hoping that goes really well. 

NATIVE: In the period between your last EP and now, how would you say you’ve grown as an artiste and as a person? 

Moliy: I would say I’m allowing myself to communicate how I really feel and what feels right, unaffected by what people might not agree with or understand. Because sometimes I feel like my music can be very opinionated and is very emotional and is a lot about how I feel and some people will not always agree with that. But you have to be confident and, because by all means I’m feeling it, I’m a girl in this age facing a lot of things that other girls out there are feeling, so someone has to be vocal about it. I guess I’m just hoping that those people who resonate with it support it regardless. 

NATIVE: What’s the idea behind the title of your impending release ‘Mahogany Street’? 

Moliy: No, it’s not random, it’s a real street in my neighbourhood in Lapas, Accra. It’s inspired by my neighbourhood, that’s what I’m saying, like I really want people to know I’m from Ghana and I’m out here making the kind of music that I do, I want it to be known.

NATIVE: African music to the world is the new wave. Are you focused on a crossover with your new EP? 

Moliy: I mean, it would be nice to crossover but I’m taking it step by step. I feel like I’ve already crossed over in a sense, I feel like right now it’s about consistency.

NATIVE: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced since starting your career? 

Moliy: I haven’t been able to do many shows, I want to be able to perform more. And I feel things now that Covid restrictions are slowing down, there are more opportunities and I’m excited to perform more and grow in that way as well.

NATIVE: Where do you see yourself as an artiste in the next five years?

Moliy: I see myself on really huge stages all over the world, and I see myself making the music I’ve always wanted to make with artistes that I really really really admire. I see myself having multiple streams of income and just living my dreams basically. 

NATIVE: Asides your impending EP, what’s next for Molly this year?

Moliy: Hopefully some more exciting features.

Credit: Native Mag