Q&A w/ Nikko Gray
When it comes to modern electronic artists/vocalists, Nikko Gray stands as an enigma to us. On the radar enough for many influential artists, dj’s, producers, fans of electronic music and more to love her works and just under it enough to not be a major house hold name in the experimental electronic scenes world wide take over. Surfaced or underground, there is a natural and flightful beauty that rises out of her music that leaves us speechless. It’s one of those speechless type of contact highs that we live for at SCV.
Originally from the United Kingdom and currently residing in the City if Angels, her sultry and organic style of creating art has a strong burning purpose in one thing: love. The love of producing art, the love of hearing it, seeing it, feeling it, sharing it; it’s all a love that has embodied itself deeply into her art forms and something you feel right away and become influenced by right away. With tons of releases and a strong penmenship that encases so many emotions and experiences, Nikko Gray is a singer song writer whose attention grabbing releases have filled our music collections for years now.
At Sound Colour Vibration, we are building a body of interviews that we could have never dreamed of creating when all of this started. Nikko Gray is our latest project in the interview department and reveals the purpose and intentions of someone who has stayed true to their original path since day one. We love to cover artists with that uncompromising yet accessible pallet of sound and Nikko Gray walks both worlds unlike anyone else.
EO: Before we dive into any of your released works or concepts, beliefs and ideas towards music, we were wondering what type of projects you are working on right now or are soon to be started…
NG: Well on the Music side, there’s some new music up next from DefSound and myself.. A song called ‘Birds.I.View” produced by Brook D’Leau. We just finished a video for that.. so it’ll be up in a few days. I also have a few new EP’s in the works… some more stuff with Nevin Thomas, Imani Waddy, and RC The Great. And I’m very excited to start working with Kenneth Barrientos on our project as soon as the others are done. I’d like to get more into the production side of things with that so I wanna get the others out of the way first so I can learn.
On the Art side… KLEUR has just teamed up with Urban Outfitters in Los Angeles and we will be inside two of their locations, twice a month doing Nail Art. That’s very exciting for us! This will also free up my time to make more jewelry and whatnot… and to really be able to settle into my musical projects without feeling like I’m in a rush. I always think I’m in a rush, but there’s really no rush at all.
EO: I really look forward to checking out all of this work. Who have been your favorite producers to work with and what type of construction processes between yourself and producer have become the most memorable for you?
NG: I’ve learned something new from each person I’ve worked with. Of the current producers I’ve been working with over the past few years, each person has something different that I find appealing. Which I think is the reason each project turns out so different from the next. I get to express myself differently throughout each experience. I love working with Nevin… When we were working on LOVE SEEN it was so easy for me to find myself in my writing and arranging because he didn’t question too much. I can be very shy about my lyrics at times… Nevin never questioned them. It was as if he didn’t even hear the words, which made it so easy for me to open up and say more of the things I’d felt. And he always lets me try ideas… then we listen back and go “nah that was wack” or “yes that’s it!”. He’s really great to work with. I love Nev!
With Afta, I felt really free in just jamming out and making mistakes and just not trippin’ on them. I learned how to listen closer to everyday sounds, and to find music in everything. Just to be free and allow the feeling of freedom to be the confirmation that what your doing is right. Even if the notes were wrong or the words didn’t make sense right away.
So many more, I won’t list them all.. but I love everyone and truly appreciate the experience I’ve gained through working with them. So much.
EO: What are your biggest sources of musical inspiration in which comes from sources outside of recorded music?
NG: Conversations, Dreams, Mountains, Sunsets, Eyes, Hands, Memories, Colors, and a mysterious place I can’t explain but call Love. Wow! That sounds hella cosmically corny… but it’s actually true. To me at least… Corny is sooo hot right now! haha
EO: Haha, I love that. What have been some of the most unique settings or situations you have been in while writing lyrics and melodies?
NG: I mostly write melodies in the car while I’m driving. Lyrics just come through like a flood at the most random of times so I’m often shoving them into my notes in my phone. Lately I’ve been writing right as I fall asleep… I’m trying to teach myself to remember to take notes when I do that cause I’m in this lucid state and think I’ll remember but I wont. So, note to self: You gotta write it down!!! Always!
EO: You have been performing live for many years now. What have been some of your most memorable shows?
NG: Hmmm… one of the most memorable shows for me was at a Pronounced Love event called Fashion Is Art 2… I did a set with Afta and it was really hot in there, and there wasn’t a stage so I was level with the Audience. Halfway through ‘Chemical Reaction’ I realized a bunch of people were surrounding me and that all of a sudden everyone was just dancing with me! It’s possible that my memory is exaggerating this event because I don’t think there were thaaat many people there in the first place… but I just remember dancing with the audience while singing and it was so much fun!!! About a month later I learned that one of the guys dancing had passed away – his name was Omar. I believe he was murdered actually, I’m not sure. It was such wild news cause he was so young and carried such vibrant energy. I really didn’t know him at all but I’m glad we shared that little time. For some reason that show strikes me as one of my favorites so far. I performed in Seattle earlier this year too… that was really really fun… the crowd was love.
EO: It’s a trip for me to think back when I was young and my parents were taking me to church and some of the only memories I have of that period is of the church choir. The church had a really good choir, one that would travel from how good they were. The sounds that came from the 40+ people singing was beyond words and my grandparents had a collection of tapes the church made. What were some of the first experiences with music like this that really embedded itself into your soul and memory?
NG: I grew up with my Mother who is a Buddhist, and so I grew up around the practice and around the sound of a room full of, like you said 40+ people all chanting in unison. I think there’s something very powerful about a large number of voices all doing the same thing. I love gospel music for the same reason, the vibration just gets you going.
EO: What have been your favorite albums of the year so far?
NG: Pheo’s – They Soulection EP, Sonnymoon – 2012, Actress – RIP, Hype Williams – Black Is Beautiful . And I like SpaceGhostPurp and ASAP Rocky but I just keep forgetting to listen to them for some reason. Everything else I’ve been listening to lately is from a different era. haha
EO: What has been some of your most fulfilling and rewarding experiences in your career as a musician?
NG: My personal growth means a lot to me. And the amazing responses I get from listeners. Like, the fact that people I don’t even know, listen to something I created just for the sake of seeing if I can do it, means sooo so much to me! When my friends tell me they listen, that just blows my mind! True confirmation. Also finding out that people listen to my music alongside other artists that I listen to is a real honor.
EO: Thanks so much for taking the time to do this.
NG: Thank you!!!
NiKKO GRAY .
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