The moment you hear songs like “Meeting in the Ladies Room”, ” I Miss You”, “Good Love” and ” I’d Still Say Yes”! You automatically think of the 1980’s all-girl band “Klymaxx”. “Joyce “Fenderella Irby” was lead vocalist and bassist for the hit song ” I Miss You”. “The 1985 hit peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and at #1 on the Billboard adult contemporary chart. “I Miss You” remained on the Hot 100 chart for 29 weeks, a long chart run at the time, and good enough to rank it as the third-biggest-selling song of 1986, ahead of several songs that went higher in the top 10 “.
Joyce is very busy these days performing and was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to give Backbeat R&B an exclusive interview.
BB: How long have you been in the music business and how did you get started?
Joyce: I have been in the business since I was a teenager and I got started by simply playing instruments. I have known George Clinton since I was 16 and he was the first famous person to take an interest in me as a musical artist. He used to see me outside his performance venues in the 70’s and get me into his concerts. After the shows were over, we would go back to a quiet spot and he would listen to me play bass and tell me how wonderful he thought I was. He saw me so much, he started introducing me as his daughter to people…including Prince in LA. We have worked on a couple of projects together over the years. I asked him to come to the studio and produce the Klymaxx song “Sexy”.
Joyce & George Clinton back in the day!
BB: Who were your biggest musical influences?
Joyce: Originally, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder and the Jackson 5!
BB: What is your favorite Klymaxx song and why?
Joyce: I’d Still Say Yes” or “The Men All Pause”, “Say Yes”, because when I perform live, I like singing it the most. “Men All Pause”, cause I wrote and recorded the track and it broke us as artists.
BB: What is the best piece of advice given to you in this business that you actually followed so far, and one you didn’t but should have?
Joyce: I actually don’t remember getting much advice outside of “pick your battles carefully”.
BB: Do you consider the internet and all social media websites crucial to your career?
Joyce: Not so much because older audiences don’t spend the amount of time browsing social media as younger audiences. Facebook can be a good tool, but there is so much more power online driven by youth services and involvement.
BB: Do you think you will be performing on the E.Coast in the near future?
Joyce: I have no idea. There is so much brand confusion!
BB: Are the Original members singing with the group? The internet is not clear on who is performing now.
Joyce: There are 3 entities performing as Klymaxx. Cheryl Cooley, the original guitar player has a group that contains no person who ever sang a note on a Klymaxx record.
Bernadette started her own Klymaxx 2 years ago. We used to work together, but she decided she wanted to be a solo artist called Klymaxx.
I am performing as Joyce Irby and Klymaxx FM. (FM, stands for “Femme Mafia”, or women’s empowerment. ( lifting each other up, rather than tearing each other down)
I sing 3 of our 4 biggest records so at least people get to hear something that sounds familiar. People are confused, and rightly so. I put the “FM” after the name Klymaxx because I wanted people to know it was not the originals. I am not trying to trick anybody. We have gotten many comments on our FB page www.facebook.com/klymaxxfm about fans being angry after they saw a concert that was not who they thought it was.
TODAY JOYCE IRBY & KLYMAXX FM
I actually am preparing to distance myself from the original Klymaxx even more. I am going to release another solo project shortly and also perform with Klymaxx FM. But I want to reestablish and try vocal brand so people can make the connection with my new music and my older hits with the group. Sort of like Michael McDonald did after leaving the Doobie Brothers. I know if I went to his concert I would at least get his voice on old and new songs.
I never wanted to be a solo artist, but Motown convinced me that I could record an album for them and still be a member of Klymaxx on MCA Records. But the other girls kicked me out immediately. So I did “Mr. DJ” with Doug E Fresh and it was the #1 selling urban single in Billboard a week. I thought, OK, this is not so bad. But I always felt misused and betrayed by the others.
JOYCE “FENDERELLA” IRBY & DOUG E FRESH