Madame Joyce: “Podcasters Are The New Rappers”

With her boistrous voice and infectious laugh, Madame Joyce is on a steady rise.

Despite some reports that the industry is “dying” or “shrinking,” the podcast market is booming. The acension of UK-based podcast star’s platform, Cocktails & Takeaways, among the recent uptick in stateside interest in several of her UK podcast peers, is proof positive that despite some fatigue, the mics aren’t shutting off anytime soon.

The host has over 183,000 subscribers to her YouTube channel and a growing community of fans and followers eager to hear her take on everything from relationships and family, to daily mundanities and typical girl talk. From the streams to the live stage, Madame Joyce is an undeniable star.

We caught up with the latest queen of chat during her recent visit to New York City to discuss why podcasting isn’t “dead,” keeping conversations fresh, and how her voice has taken her around the world.

ESSENCE: First things first, we have to ask what led you to podcasting? Where did the idea for Cocktails and Takeaways come from?

Madame Joyce: Honestly, first thing, it definitely came from God. I’ve always loved to talk to people and I’ve always loved communication…talking about anything and everything, and just having that exchange, especially when it’s with new people. During lockdown, I just wanted to do something that I could just, I guess, escape from a very, very boring nine to five job. So that’s how it started. At the time I started my podcast, there wasn’t many people who had made brands out of podcasting in the UK and there weren’t many solo podcasts.

So for those unfamiliar with you and your content, what is the concept of your show?

Cocktails & Takeaways is definitely conversational. I am comedic by nature, so there will always be comedic flare to the show, but it’s definitely candid and real conversations.

I feel like the energy of the show is, I want people to feel as if they’re with their friends in their secret place, having a really candid chit-chat. That’s why the show’s called Cocktails and Takeaways because where do you have your most candid conversations with your friends? Over cocktails, over lunch, or in their house having a takeaway. I wanted to embody that with every single guest, and I wanted people who came on the show to feel like we’ve been friends for ages so that we can have those cultural conversations; candid, chaotic conversations.

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The UK has it’s own podcast ecosystem that has been spilling over “across the pond” in the last few years. You’ve gained quite a bit of popularity here in the states, as evidenced by the turnout at your recent meet and greet in New York. What do you feel is different about the podcast scene in the UK versus what you’ve seen of the US thus far?

The media space, it’s something where we’re still trying to navigate ourselves as Black women [in the UK]. I love the energy that New York has for the women here, especially for the content creators, the influencers – you can see influencers on the covers of ESSENCE magazines. That’s something that, in the UK, we’re still catching up on.

I definitely want to expand and grow my US audience and just have a good time and just be around women that look like me, that sound like me, that are boisterous and loud and confident, which is something that, again, in the UK, we’re still trying to understand and we’re still trying to familiarize ourselves and be represented [more fully] in the mainstream media.

It’s growing, but I definitely feel like the UK has a lot to catch up on in terms of the representation of Black women being vocal and confident. I think sometimes our boisterousness can be misunderstood because of how we express ourselves. We have Black representation, but we primarily have it from Black women who are “mainstream acceptable.”

Madame Joyce:  “Podcasters Are The New Rappers”
INDIO, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 14: Madame Joyce attends the 2023 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival | YouTube Shorts Content Studio at Empire Polo Club on April 14, 2023 in Indio, California. (Photo by Irvin Rivera/Getty Images for YouTube)

You’ve had pretty rapid growth, having just started your platform in 2021 during pandemic lockdowns. For you, what was the turning point moment where you realized “wow, I really have something here?”

When we did the O2 Indigo, last year. A live show that had an audience of 1,400 people.

That’s a pretty large crowd for a podcast.

Oh, you ain’t seen nothing. Sh*ts & Gigs just did a crowd of 20,000 at the O2 Arena! Sold out.

Podcasters are the new rappers. We are at age right now where – I’m sorry –some of your favorites are not booking O2 Arena. People actually come out to hear what you have to say and you could be talking utter nonsense.

Honestly, a lot of times I’m just like, “girl, the weather, my wig, my shoe.” But what is amazing is that it’s like people know you. They will come up to you and tell you your life story. It’s almost like the people who are watching, they’re your friends, they’re your family. They know you. And especially the more vulnerable you are, the more people are invested into you. So podcasters are really the new rappers.

It’s different, and I feel like podcasting is only going to get bigger. Now that communication is so digital, people live their social lives through podcasting. Sitting down, cleaning the kitchen, and you want gist? Okay, let’s put on Cocktails & Takeaways. You want to laugh? Let’s watch Sh*ts & Gigs. You want to think? Let’s put on a true crime. The era of podcasting is only going to get more monumental.

Madame Joyce:  “Podcasters Are The New Rappers”
LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 30: (L to R) James Duncan, Madame Joyce and Fuhad celebrate 2023 at Spotify Wrapped Live in London featuring performances from Sam Smith, Charli XCX, Chase & Status, and more on November 30, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images for Spotify)

Agreed. So much so, you even see celebrities from other industries jumping into it. What are your thoughts about these people who already have massive followings and built-in audiences from their previous ventures now jumping into podcasting to compete with – for all intents – “regular” people with microphones?

I feel like there’s a space for everyone. What’s powerful about podcasting, it’s something that doesn’t require so much production. I feel like the power is back to the little guy. Yes, there are celebrities who are doing podcasts, but I also feel like there is possibility for people who are normal, regular people to compete with those [big names] and do it successfully because one thing you need for a podcast is you need personality.

No, I lied. Two things you for a podcast is personality, and you also need vulnerability. I feel like a lot of celebrities don’t have personality, and if they do have personality, they’re not as vulnerable because of the image that they’re trying to maintain, or because of NDAs, and labels, and they have a lot more people that tell them yes and no. When you are independent, you open that mic, you say what you like. So there is possibility for the normal guy, the upcoming podcaster to compete and do even better than celebrities. And to be honest, I feel like the people who didn’t start off with celebrity are doing a lot better than the celebrities.

The fact that you can go anywhere in the world and you can have a community there that loves you and will attend your shows there. There’s no one else doing that except artists. There’s no one else doing that except musicians. So I really thank God for where we are, for the fact that we can grow a community that love us, that are willing to invest in us, that are willing to support us financially and just allow the show to grow. It is just an amazing place to be right now.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to break into the market with their own platform now?

I think the journey starts before the mic is on. The journey starts with being confident in yourself, not feeling embarrassed about what is coming out of your mouth. The first thing is to be confident in who you are and the things that you’re saying. You’re not always going to get it right. Me, I’ve got so many things wrong in the things I’ve said and I’ve not always had it right. But be confident enough to say it where it comes naturally and you don’t feel embarrassed or you don’t feel ashamed. Vulnerability is everything in this game. You have to be willing to share and you have to be willing to feel embarrassed.

Be okay with looking like a mad woman sometimes, because you then become the best storyteller. You then become the best podcaster because the best stories of mine are the stories where other people would probably think, “how the hell did you manage to say that?”

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