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15 Jan

#MAMSTORY – with Niia

Niia
is an American future jazz singer, pianist, and songwriter. She was born in a family of classical musicians and began singing and performing at the age of 13. Her first breaktrough was a collaboration with Wyclef Jean for the  single “Sweetest Girl (Dollar Bill),” which also featured Lil’ Wayne and Akon. Earlier this year she released her debut album called “I”.

 

At which part of the world do we find you now?

I am currently in LA on my sofa with a glass of wine.

Let’s start from the beginning – what were you like as a child, and what were your dreams back then?

I was a very introverted and creative child. I always gravitated to the arts. My mother is a pianist and used to teach lessons in our home. I’d always lay under the piano and listen to her students. I don’t think I had many dreams back then. I mostly just wanted to find excuses not to do my homework.

What are your inspirations as a musician?

My inspirations come from lots of different things. I’m a very visual person so a lot come from Italian music and cinema I grew up on. Jazz is always a big factor too. I think it’s just pulling from everything that effects you both negatively and positively really. You try it and see what sticks and then make it your own.

 

Looking at your online photos, we couldn’t miss the fact that you have a very distinguished style of fashion. So, how would you describe your own style? What do you wean in the daytime, and what – in the evening?

When I moved to NYC to attend New Schools Jazz program I was placed in the Parsons fashion dorms. There I was first introduced to fashion and my new friends really helped me find my own sense of style and how to play off it as an artist. We live in such a visual age where it’s important to define yourself not only as a sound but with imagery. I’m lucky to have great friends who have helped me embrace fashion and feel more comfortable with taking risks and understanding it. I wear a lot of black and try to be comfortable. I’d say it’s classic with a dark twist. When I perform I like to dress a bit fancier- it puts me in a different mindset. During the days I’m pretty basic black jeans and black t shirt. I do love a great long coat too!

Do you have a favourite brand/s? / What are your opinions on urban and streetstyle fashion trends?

I don’t have a favorite brand per say. But I do love Celine, Dries Van Noten, Calvin Klein and a few newer designers. I am definitely more an understated dresser but really admire people that dress extreme or eccentric. I think these days trends happen so fast it’s cool to see people all part of the same conversation….Though sometimes I feel authenticity is lost a little. If everyone wearing the same boots what makes them stand apart ?

Listening to your album “I”(California is a personal favourite;), I feel a positive melancholy (which I love). Is that the kind of person Niia is?

I would probably say yes. I’ve always been drawn to the darker sides of life and love. I overthink everything. I also think growing up singing jazz standards where the majority of the lyrics are about heartbreak and sadness influenced my own writing. Writing about how I feel whether it’s sad or happy is always challenging. But I do find myself gravitating to the melancholy side, which ironically makes me feel happier.

Tell us a bit more about “I”. The whole album sounds truly personal and felt. What’s the story behind it, and what inspired you to record it?

I didn’t go into writing “I” with any real intentions. I wanted to try to write something from a strong females perspective. It ended up being about moving to California and falling madly in love and how hard it can be -being so in love. It’s funny because it ended up being this strong female perspective but in a way I never expected. Sonically I always want to pull from old music and mix it with new elements so it feels fresh. I listen now and can’t believe I wrote some of the words. I just couldn’t not write about what I was going through at the time.

How did your path as a musician begin?

My path was slow and steady. I come from a very musical family. My moms from Italy and has a bunch of musicians on her side which I just assumed all families have. I took lessons and really loved to learn about the craft and theory behind music. I didn’t really think about the music industry till a few years ago when it started to lure me in. I didn’t think I would end up doing what I love for my job. It was important for me to go slow and take my time with everything.

 

What are your ambitions and dreams from now on?

I’d like to make more music and work a-little faster. I believe in quality over quantity but these days things move so quickly you have to stay present. I’d also like to maybe write a musical and start acting and scoring films.

Can you give an advice to all those young people in the world of art and fashion, who are just at the beginning of their journey?

I’d say make sure you love what you do and then just keep at it. Anything great takes time, a lot of time too. The harder you work the further you’ll get. The journey never really ends. Make your own standards and goals and find people that believe in your vision. If you love what you do and work hard anything is possible.

 

Viktor Liba
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