YouTube Star Turned Singer-Songwriter NIYKEE HEATON Discusses Her Newest Music and More!
Posted On 01 Dec 2017
Thanks for your time today! Where does this interview find you? Is there music playing in the background? If so, what is it? What music gets you instantly out of a bad mood? What is a song you are loving these days?
I’m sitting in bed right now, and I can hear “Do It To It” by Cherish blasting in my living room, haha. That era and genre of music is definitely my favorite, and it instantly lifts me out of any bad mood because it brings me back to when I was eight or nine years old, when I was first discovering rap music. As of right now, I’m loving “Live Up to My Name” by Baka.
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Was there a time where you thought of doing something completely different?
I didn’t develop a true love for composing and songwriting until I was around nine; that was when I picked up a guitar for the first time. Before that, I always considered myself a writer. I won every poetry contest since the age of six. I’ve always been a poet at heart.
Overall, how do you think 2017 has been for you and your music career? What are you most excited about for in 2018?
Overall, 2017 has been a time for me to step back and reassess myself and my music, and I feel like that was important for me. I went under the radar a little bit after I finished my last tour, and since then I’ve been able to really focus on what I want my music to sound like. I finally get the chance to take my time and be critical about my sound. I feel like 2018 is finally going to be the time that I get to show the world who I really am, and what I’m truly capable of.
I always like to ask artists about where they came from and how that city or town has influenced them as an artist now. So how do you think your hometown and current home has affected you and your music today?
Growing up in a small suburban town outside of Chicago definitely influenced my music at the time. There wasn’t much inspiration to draw from, so my music was based solely on my innermost feelings of being trapped and wanting to break free. Living in LA now, things are much different. I feel like I’m finally allowed to try new things, dabble in new sounds and vibes. I’m exposed to so much diversity here, so it’s easy to draw inspiration from everything around me.
Can you talk about your involvement with blu as part of their “Something Better” campaign and digital story content? How did this collaboration first come to be? What is it like having live content for all to watch? Why do you think you are perfect for blu’s content hub?
I’ve been using blu for quite some time now, so when they reached out to me wanting to collaborate, it felt right. Their campaign “Something Better” correlated so well with my own story, and resonated with me on another level. I took the risk, and chose something better for myself, and it changed my life. blu is a product I use as a part of my creative process, when I write and when I’m in the studio. It’s always with me, in my pocket or my purse, whenever I need it. I love that it comes with a little rechargeable battery pack too.
What was it like sharing a lot about yourself? Were you nervous about sharing anything?
Talking about myself in general is hard, haha. I hate it. But sharing my story on a platform like blu’s “Something Better” was so cool, because even though I’m an introvert, I think my fans appreciated me opening up honestly since that makes it easier for them to relate, and to feel like they’re not alone.
As far as your music goes, can you talk making The Bedroom Door Playlist? Did anything surprise you about the overall process? Were there any unexpected challenges or surprises about it all?
Making The Bedroom Tour Playlist was fun for me. It was like my own little piece of me that no one got to touch. Not only did I write every single word of every song, but I produced almost every track as well. I wanted to create a piece of work that I’ll be able to show my kids someday, “look what mommy did! All by herself!” It was important to me to create something completely and utterly authentic.
Could you pick out one or two of your favorite songs from this collection and discuss how they were made? Generally, how does your songwriting style process work?
Well, “I’m Ready” is the first track on the playlist, and I feel the most strongly about it because this was a song that I wrote days after leaving my home and starting my new life. I wrote it on the floor of my manager’s apartment one snowy afternoon, and I’ll never forget that moment. It was my first song, my first anthem of freedom and strength, and I know my fans related to it because this is the song that thousands of my fans have lyrics from tattooed on their body. My songwriting process is simple. I feel something, and it just flows, and my guitar accompanies those feelings.
Do you have plans to play out live to wrap up the year? Can you remember a favorite show of yours in the past?
I just plan on working until the end of the year. Focus on making new, amazing music so I can share it with my fans soon. Still to this day, my favorite show has been Okeechobee Fest. I will remember it forever, because I made my manager/best friend Lauren and her cousin Taylor be my back up dancers, and it was the funniest thing because they had no idea what they were doing, ahaha.
What do you think of social media today and the importance of it for artists now? Do you find that it’s hard to keep up with it all? What has been your favorite social media experience so far?
I think it’s a great platform for artists to gain recognition and be heard, but it’s unbelievably hard to keep up with. I would love to be posting dog memes all day and saying stupid shit on Twitter, but I can’t, because my social media accounts are my businesses. But aside from all of that, the best thing I get from social media is the opportunity it gives me to interact with my fans. Even though I barely even have time for myself, I love that once in a while I can respond to a DM from a sweet fan and it completely makes their day. I love that I can do that.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being a musician gives you the most joy in life today? How do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these difficult times?
I think, personally, as a musician I get joy from knowing that someone out there might hear one of my songs and think, “Oh. I’m not alone, I’m not the only one.” I hope my music can instill happiness and hope in the individuals who need it most. I think the music being created today will reflect what’s going on right now in society, and act as almost a historical reference to future generations of artists and listeners.
Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire you and your music? What musicians would you absolutely still love to work with in the future?
I’m inspired massively by the hip hop artists of today. The new young, creative, upcoming rappers like Kodak and Baka, but also the game changers like Drake, Nicki, Kendrick. I would LOVE to work with Nicki Minaj, because not only is she undeniably the most talented female lyricist of current hip hop, but she also embodies everything a strong, confident woman should be. Other than that, I’m still waiting on Bob Dylan to answer my creepy fan mail…lol.
What do you hope your fans take away from your music? Do you think there is a greater music in your songs?
I just hope that my fans can connect with my music and my lyrics. I hope it makes them feel something. Good or bad. I want my music to evoke emotion, make them laugh, dance, cry, feel something actually real. When I was a child, I was searching for someone who I could look to and say, “Hey, they’re just like me! I know how that feels too! They understand me!” but I never found that. So, if nothing else, I want one person to be able to listen to my song and feel that they too are not alone.
What advice would you give to a young person who is thinking about becoming a musician one day?
I would tell them to follow their heart. Let it guide you. If music truly makes you happy, then do it. But there is a huge difference between being a “musician,” and being an “artist.” I’ve been a musician my whole life, and it saved me. But learning and adapting to all the guidelines and regulations of being a performing artist has taught me the distinction between the two. You’ve gotta be tough, and you have to really want it.
Would you like to share anything else about yourself or your music with our readers?
I want people to know that along with being an artist, I’m human too. So I am constantly evolving and will continue to evolve because by growing and learning, we change. I want to grow with my music. Take it, transform it, evolve it, and keep turning it into different types of magic. I’m not a one trick pony. So give me the chance to let me prove it to you.