Afternoon! Happy Wednesday! We are excited to be able to introduce you to our Okayplayer Universe. Please answer the questions descriptively and if you have any of your own, don’t hesitate to ask!
To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact on both sides of the U.S. What is it that those in North Carolina are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?
Hello! Music snobs, I’ve never heard that term before haha. Um, I’d say that the people in NC (mostly other NC artists) are seeing/hearing/a part of, the process of my music being created. Their emails are full of rough drafts, potential tracks, melodies, etc haha. I love getting feedback, so their opinions matter. I eventually plan to share that part of myself with the rest of the world, once my final product has been completed, and there are individuals who actually want to be apart of the creative process. After all, this is all being done for them.
For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?
– This is a tough question. I’ll name four: Gnarls Barkley, Little Dragon, Gwen Stefani, and Bjork. I could name so many, but to start, I cherish these four because they are all so original, consistent, and classic. Nothing about their music appears to be forced, it is all organic and I value that so much being that the content nowadays lack these elements.
Your song, “Violet” is really dope and has heightened anticipation for new work from you by music snobs who have a heavy presence in the industry. Can you talk about how life was for you while developing as an artist in North Carolina? How did you react to your first bits of press ever received?
I’m just now starting to realize how fast “Violet” is starting to move! Did not expect that at all, I’m very grateful. Life as a developing artist in NC is/was interesting, to say the least. Initially, I knew no other artists around my age, so I was introduced to recording/writing music at the age of 14, by a bunch of old hip hop heads. I didn’t really get a sense of who I was, as an artist, until I hit college (UNCG). There, I was able to meet likeminded individuals, learn from them and kind of develop my style. I went back and forth to Raleigh and Durham to work with other artists, and through them I learned even more. Receiving press for my work, especially “Nobody Else”, was and still is a big deal! It gave me a major push to continue my work; it was very reassuring.
What have been the most definitive obstacles that you have overcome thus far?
I would say that the most definitive obstacle that I’ve overcome thus far is learning how to be patient. Although developing patience isn’t necessarily an obstacle, the process of learning how to be, was. Art can’t be rushed, and sometimes deadlines may not be met because an element of a song/project is missing. So, what do you do? Remain patient, and finish creating until you feel that whatever you’re working on is completed.
What are some things that you have learned about yourself that comes out in the music?
– I’ve learned that I am a HUGE fan of simplicity, and precision.
What were some moments from Niya Wells’ recent travels that will forever stick with you? Why?
I would have to say that my recent travel to Asheville for a photoshoot had cool moments that will stick with me. I’m a nature lover, so the scenery in Asheville melted my heart! The mountains, colors, and the massive amount of trees… I could’ve stayed there forever.
What was the first song that you ever wrote entitled? Can you talk about what that song has come to symbolize since becoming a professional musician?
The first song ever? It was terrible! Mind you, I was 12 at the time, but the song was titled “Losing Me”, and it was about a boy’s swag, haha. The song definitely symbolizes the evolution of my creativity. My writing and content will only get better, and the skill will develop along with that.
How can the music you make speak truth to power in an age where people are so quickly digesting sounds and disposing of artists in a nanosecond?
That is a tough thing to do. All that I can do is focus on making sure that the music I make is nothing less than a classic. Classics never die.
Collaboration is uniquely a key to the success of certain creative individuals who wish to change the game. Who would you want to work with this year and why?
I am a huge lover of producers and DJs. In fact, I believe that if I weren’t a singer I would have definitely pursued a career as a producer, but being that this isn’t so, I’m always wanting to collaborate with amazing producers (they’re hard to come across), such as, Darius, Spazzkid, Knxwledge, and MadeofOak.
What is the overall message that Niya Wells is trying to present in her music?
To be original.
Can you two break down the inspiration behind “Nobody Else”…? Could you speak on the creation and production of that song for the masses?
Well, Jarreau’s manager sent the track to me and I was obsessed with it! I wrote to it, with the help of friend (Shermar), sent it back, and they (Jarreau and Brasstracks) gave it a yes. There was a lot of back and forth emailing, skyping, and updating of the song, to get it just right. We were all in different parts of the world trying to bring together this one song. There were a lot of studio sessions involved,haha, but the process was definitely a fun one. I couldn’t have pick a better duo to kick off my career with.
How do you see yourself changing the music industry for the better versus all of the bad stuff that goes on within it?
I truly believe in the law of attraction, so I feel that if I make it my mission to gear towards the brighter end of the industry, I’ll be surrounded by those who are wanting to do the same, and together we can all change the music industry.
If the reader’s learned one thing from this First Look Friday chat with Niya Wells — what would it be and in what octave would it sound like?
– The readers will know that I’m here to perfect my craft, to learn all that I can about myself and my music, and to have a good time while I’m doing so.
is the managing editor of Okayplayer. His top three MCs are: 1) Andre 3000, 2) Scarface, and 3) Black Thought. Debate him on Twitter @KevitoClark.