MY final interview before the weekend is with NIKO…
who has been talking about his latest single, The One, and the inspiration behind it. I ask him whether there will be any more material coming along and how he got into music; which artists have inspired him and whether there are any rising musicians we need to pack.
NIKO reveals his plans ahead and talks about three albums that mean a lot to him; how he chills and unwind away from music; which artists he’d support given the chance – he ends the interview by picking a classic Swing song.
Hi, NIKO. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi Sam! I’m good. My week has been busy getting ready for the release of my single!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
My name is NIKO. I was born and raised in Milan, Italy but now I live and work in N.Y.C. I would define my music as Pop: sonically, it has a Euro touch fused with a contemporary sound. Thematically, I’m inspired by my own experiences as well as my fantasies - and the possible scenarios that could happen in between the two.
The One is your latest single. How did that song come to be? What inspired it?
The One is a romantic song that touches on the frustration of modern dating. It’s inspired by the first moments with someone you're attracted to. It reminisces on warm summer nights, spent in and out of bars and clubs; looking for ‘the one’. It’s definitely a personal song - it was written and recorded in just one afternoon during a session in L.A.
Do you think there will be more material coming? How far ahead are you looking?
Yes. The One is part of a four-track E.P.: the fil rouge of the E.P. is romance, love and lust. The second single will come out next month while the full E.P. is going to be released early next year.
How did you get into music? Was there a particular moment when it all sort of clicked?
I was a very artsy kid and I took up acting and singing from a very young age. I think I realized I wanted to make music and be a performer when I first sang live in front of a live audience in Milan when I was fourteen. I performed Light My Fire; still one of my favorite songs.
Are there particular musicians you draw inspiration from? Did you grow up around a lot of music?
I’m inspired by the big legends of pop such as George Michael, Madonna and Janet Jackson - whenever I’m looking for inspiration I turn to their music, which is so timeless and beautiful.
I grew up in a very musical household . Even though my parents were not professional musicians or in the music business, music was always playing at home and very much part of our lives. Still nowadays, big family gatherings often turn into dance parties!
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
As an independent artist, I would be grateful to connect with more people through my music; release another single and play a couple of live shows.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
Yes. I’m planning the release of my E.P.!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Some years ago, I spent a couple months in the U.K., working with different producers on a project that never saw the light of day (unfortunately). I had the pleasure of working with Joe Cross, the producer behind HURTS, and David Laudat, an amazing vocal coach who worked with the Spice Girls back in the day (and also FKA Twigs).
Even though those songs never came out, I learned a lot about music production and songwriting during my stint in London and Manchester. I treasure those days very much!
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Madonna – Erotica; Janet Jackson – The Velvet Rope and George Michael – Patience
If I think about it, these three albums share similar topics and are all very personal, raw and very, very sensual. Musically; these albums definitely pushed some boundaries and innovated Pop music at the time. And, visually, Madonna, Janet and George Michael had stunning, creative videos to go with the singles. These albums influenced me a lot growing up and I still turn to them when I need some inspiration.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
That’s a hard question. There are so many artists I admire but I would love to open for Lady Gaga. She’s such a multi-talented, multi-faceted artist. I’ve been a fan since day-one.
A glass of prosecco before the show would honestly be all that I need.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I’m a new artist myself, so I would just say to never give up and to trust your vision.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
Not yet, but I’m definitely looking to play some live shows in the future so stay tuned!
IN THIS PHOTO: Leo Kalyan
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Yes. Lately, I’ve been listening a lot to the mega-talented Leo Kalyan, who put out some great music this year (like his latest single Focus), and NEIL FRANCES; a band that made an awesome cover of Stardust’s Music Sounds Better With You and then put out a great E.P.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Sometimes, a good workout is all that I need to unwind and recharge but I also enjoy watching old Hollywood movies.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
I would go with one of my all-time favorites: Frank Sinatra - I’ve Got You Under My Skin