Hello and welcome to DIY’s introducing feature, Get To Know… getting you a little bit closer to the buzziest new acts that have been catching our eye as of late, and working out what makes them tick.
Releasing her latest EP ‘Take A Seat’ last month, Nia says of the project, “I wrote a few of the songs - or at least parts of them - over the past year and a half, and as I began to develop this EP, a body of work started to form that had a clear theme. I had been writing about two parts of myself and trying to connect them - giving a voice to the adolescent me, and myself in the present. A lot of the songs deal with my experience with mental health issues, confusion around identity and struggling with the relationships in my life growing up and now - feeling let down, angry but conflicted.
“I worked with Pat McManus on this EP. Because of the pandemic some of the music was made in the studio but other times we had to do remote sessions so it was definitely a different recording experience. Making this project massively helped me get through being at home and gave me a purpose and drive.
“‘Take A Seat’ is a play on what receptionists of course say at mental health services when you have to sit in a waiting room, waiting to express yourself and try to connect with yourself. But it’s also a statement asking the listener to sit down and be introduced to me, my music and what I have to say. And that this is just the start.”
We sent her over some qs to find out even more!
Describe your music to us in the form of a tinder bio…
Soul music that might help you cry, get it on with someone or have a breakdown.
What’s your earliest music memory?
Falling in love with the guitar and repeatedly playing ‘Greensleeves’ after having learnt it off by heart. I was 9, and the only girl learning in a group of boys at school - none of those lads carried on with guitar but I was hooked immediately.
What were some artists that inspired you when you were just starting out (and why)?
Bob Dylan was an early and constant inspiration for how he approached story-telling and song-writing. When I was getting into blues guitar and starting out properly, Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a source of inspiration for my playing style. Moving to London put me onto artists such as Little Simz - her lyricism is hard-hitting and she is a great businesswoman, having grafted hard to get where she is. Kehlani’s use of layered backing vocals and Mac Miller’s production style are influences I’ve picked up.
HAIM have been very inspiring for me, and encouraged me to hone my craft in terms of guitar and learning how to produce. Over the years I have built my confidence, skills and knowledge in the process of creating music - songwriting, being in the studio and self-production. I’ve developed a fascination with wanting to know the ins and outs of the creative process which has allowed me much more control and space. I was really proud to have production credits on my latest EP ‘Take A Seat’ and I’m excited to have the chance to do a lot more of that.
You’re from Wales! What do you think of the music scene there at the moment?
The music scene is growing rapidly, and is now starting to be more vibrant and genre-diverse. Previously it was mostly dominated by indie bands, but now we are seeing rap, rnb and soul on the come-up which is exciting - artists like L E M F R E C K, Mace The Great and Deyah are putting out great music. There is an excellent support network for Welsh creatives which I’ve benefited from - artist development schemes such as Horizons/Gorwelion have given a lot of support to myself and other artists, and BBC Radio Wales have been behind me from the start which I’ve massively appreciated. Through the Welsh music scene and connecting through social media I’ve made some great friends through sharing our Welsh identity as well as sharing the experiences of being an artist. There are a few Welsh artists flying the flag down in London, supporting one another and representing our heritage outside of Wales which is so important.
Are there any other artists breaking through at the same time that you take inspiration from?
Deyah is a brilliant artist - she featured on Getting High, which is a track from ‘Take A Seat’. I take a lot of inspiration from her as she’s definitely destined for big things and massively talented… we both share some difficult experiences around drugs and alcohol and when I saw she was being vocal about those struggles in her music, it inspired me to write a song about my own addiction issues, which Deyah then featured on.
Really enjoying records from Tiana Major9 and Lo Village, and taking inspiration from the likes of Marie Dahlstrom, Duchess and Ego Ella May for raising the UK neo-soul and R&B game.
Who would be your dream collaborator?
There are so many, but I’d love to collaborate with Anderson .Paak. He is an innovator and multi-talented, and I think we’d make something really groovy. Others would be Robert Glasper and Masego. And of course, the late Amy Winehouse.
Musically or otherwise, what are you looking forward to the most to this year?
Making some new music (already have a ton of songs I’m itching to record and collaborate on). I’d love to get into an analogue studio. Hopefully I’ll be going on tour with Paul Weller at the end of the year (reschedule third time lucky). I’m excited to play my London headline show too (Bermondsey Social Club on Nov 25) and be in the sunshine with loved ones this summer.
If people could take away one thing from your music, what would it be?
That it makes them think and feel something powerful within themselves. Music is so subjective - it pushes different buttons for everyone, but I’d hope that my music could do that for the listener, whether that’s through the sound/textures of the song, lyricism or the rhythm. I just want them to enjoy it.