Sunday, February 22, 2009

Exclusive Interview With Nikki Jean (Part I)

In Part 1 of our exclusive interview with Nikki Jean, she talked to us about how she started making YouTube videos, Nouveau Riche, and what's coming next. Read and enjoy.

Q: Let's start with this, for those who don't know you, can you explain who Nikki Jean is in 3 words that best describe you?

NJ: Baking, singer-songwriter.

Q: Ok, so...about your YouTube videos, when did you decide to report the journey of you in the music industry?

NJ: You know, at first I was just doing them intermittently like I did a few, I guess in February or March of 2007 and I think that people's growing interest caused me to do it more and more and it became a really kinda symbiotic relationship where there was a certain group of people who wanted to hear what it was like and what was going on and the progress and they wanted to give me encouragement and I definitely needed the encouragement because, it's hard. So..I think that's kinda how it started, and because of that; because people were there for me when I didn't really have much happening at all, you know, the band was struggling and I was working jobs and barely able to pay my rent and people were so supportive that it made me wanna continue to take them along on more of the cooler stuff that started happening later, which I don't think would have happened in the same way if it hadn't been for the incredible people, strangers that I never met, who took the time to invest in me and my career.

Q: So...what's up with Nouveau split up last year, correct?

NJ: Yeah, it was an interesting thing with Nouveau Riche. It's hard to be in a band and at the same time, they are at home in Philly and you are seeing the whole country with Lupe and Kanye, that's incoherent to balance so of course they wanted to be working and making music and I didn't want to stop them in that. Before I met the guys, the band had been together for 3 years and I've been singing and writing songs on the piano for probably 10 years, so before I met them I had always intended to do a solo project and it was never supposed to be an either/or thing, so as things picked up for me they just started working on their separate projects and it was a very natural kind of solution.

Q: Do you think that you'll ever get back together to record music?

NJ: Absolutely! I still sit down and have lunch with the guys once in a while and listen to the new stuff they are working on. They were actually forming a new band that was gonna sing some of the songs that I've written and I was writing more songs for that band. So we are still all on really good terms and I hope to make music with them in the future.

Q: Ok so I know that you said that Sam Hollander is gonna produce your whole album. Can you tell us what he's exactly doing...does he create the music?

NJ: Well, what's gonna happen is that I'll sit down with a number of really exciting, really cool writers over the next couple of months. And when I write the songs with them we kinda do a rough demo recording and it's usually me on the piano and singing or them on the piano and singing. Then we take those recordings back to Sam and he has me sit down with an arranger and me and the arranger work to try to make sure that the songs have a sound and feel that's consistent for the whole record. When you work with a whole bunch of different writers it would be easy to have a very inaudible record so I work with the arranger to get the feel of all the songs on the same page and after that we do a more formal demo of it where I'm actually in a studio with a good mic and great instruments and from there Sam takes the song and flashes it out.

Q: How soon do you think we can expect your project coming?

NJ: Probably August/September. That's what we're aiming for. But I have seen so many people come out and say "Yeah, my record is gonna come out here..." and then 2 years later you hear it came god willing that won't be the case. I'm trying to really enjoy the process of making the record and not to become too attached with the outcome to the point where I can't enjoy the outcome. Because you can't control the outcome, there's only so much you can do... that you can control when your record comes out....

(The connection broke and Nikki came back and wanted to tell us something exciting)

Nikki: On February...I think 23rd or 24th, I'm leaving my home in Philadelphia, in my car, with my puppies and we are driving to Nashville, where I'm gonna meet up with some incredible writers. But once I leave on that day, I'm not coming back, I'm not coming home until my record is completely written, it's an indefinite road-trip.

Q: Are you still gonna do your video blogs?

NJ: That's when I'm gonna start doing them again. I'm going to Nashville, probably Memphis, Atlanta, Florida, across Texas all the way to LA and I'm gonna stop and do open mics and meet my friends across the country and we'll bowl and bake, it's gonna be so much more fun than making my record like in a bathroom and having to sit around my house and think of lyrics and be in studios every day (I like being in studios) but how much more fun is that gonna be – to be on the road. It's turning spring and it's gonna be warm in the South and I'm gonna meet people and see all types of wonderful things; that's gonna be so cool. I'm excited for the opportunity to make the record that way because I know I'm gonna be so inspired just by the landscape of the country like... I loved being on tour. I love roadtrips; I love touring; I do some of my best writing on the road. It's gonna be awesome to see the country, which I've done before, but I love doing it, it's gonna be awesome!

Q: How did you enjoy "the cool tour" with Lupe Fiasco? I know when you guys came to Atlanta, I went to that show and it was a really really good show, so how did you enjoy that whole experience?

NJ: You know, that was a trickier show for us...that was not one of our smoother shows, I remember that show and the performance at "the Roxy" in Atlanta, Summiyah you were there too, weren't you? (Yup!) Yeah man, that was a BIG night and there were some great people there and there was an after party at the (???) Store, Trey Songz was there, and hmm, yeah there's just so many memories like that first tour was just a whirlwind because I didn’t...I wasn’t supposed to be on it. I was only supposed to do that one date in Los Angeles, but I had so much fun when I got out there that I just asked Lu like “Yo can I stay on tour?” and he just said "Yes". So all of a sudden I was out, with only one day of clothes with me, but what... if there's anything that you wanna know, about the tour, what would it be?

Q: Well actually can I tell you the story of how I made it to the Lupe show, because I wasn’t supposed to go to that show myself (Laughs)

NJ: Let’s hear it!
Yeah, what happened was I actually waited to buy tickets the day of the show, but it was sold out. So what I ended up doing was I drove down there anyway (to the Roxy) and you know how the Roxy is set up Nikki, like in the back, the door was wide open,(Laughing) so I just went through, and you know Dammo? The one who is in Lupe's band? Yeah! he just let me and my friend in and that was history.

NJ: Well that sounds like a great way to get into a show, I got into a PRINCE concert that way before
Q: Oh really??

I was actually trying to meet you cause I saw Sarah Green, and we saw everybody else but, I was like, "Yo where's Nikki Jean?" and they were like..."Oh I don’t know" So it didn’t work out.

NJ: But, you know what’s crazy about that is I spent the whole show at the Roxy out, right at the sound booth and I still have pictures dancing around with a bunch of girls that were at the sound booth there, like I always ...I'd never been on tour before so, every night was just kinda like something new. Yeah, but it was just ... I couldn’t believe it. Like still it’s kinda unbelievable for me. Definitely the Glow in The Dark Tour too just unbelievable when you’re like, man! I was just up on that stage...Seriously? For real?? (Laughing) Like, that's crazy! So I would just constantly celebrate (Laughs) I was in constant celebration mode and it was easy to do because, for the fans, every night is fresh. So there's always someone who's gonna celebrate with you like...Man this is crazy! and they'll be like, it IS crazy! (Laughing) I really, really enjoyed that.

Q: Thats cool! So can you tell us about your experiences on the Glow in the Dark Tour? Like, how much did it mean to you...Like being around all those people? Not just Lupe, but you know Kanye, Pharell, NERD and Rihanna and all the other people you met on tour.

NJ: It was super, super fun, it was a cross between like, music graduate school, and boot camp and summer camp all into one.

Q: Talking about the tour. I know you guys probably [partied] a whole lot...

NJ: Not as much as you would think.
Q: Really?
NJ: Naw... cause a lot of times you... a lot of times you leave one place at 2am, and the show gets over at 11, that’s not much time to like, pack up and get on the bus and roll out.

Part 2 even get's better, so stay tuned !!!


oloni said...

I have so much love for Nikki Jean she really is amazing. Great interview guys cant wait for the next one.


amirah. said...

oh man! I can't wait for the next part!