I have been speaking with Nominjin...
about her career and how she came into music. She has been telling me about her latest track, Kiss Me at Midnight, and how it came together; what sort of sounds/influences have affected her and whether we might see some more material coming along.
She reveals a few albums that are important to her and talks about her heritage; whether there are plans in place for next year and when she knew music was the career path for her – Nominjin picks a classic track to end things with.
Hi, Nominjin. How are you? How has your week been?
I’m doing wonderful. Thank you for asking. I’ve had a fantastic week recording at the studio and we also wrapped up production of my upcoming music video for my single, Kiss Me at Midnight. The single drops on Nov 30th worldwide and the music video will be released in the middle of December this year.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Hi, everyone. My name is Nominjin. I’m a Soul, Pop and R&B singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles. I started my career at age twelve and since then I’ve performed in more than fifteen countries. I was born in Mongolia and raised by an American father and Mongolian mother. Growing up, I was exposed to many different cultures and learned at an early age to recognize myself as a global citizen. I lived in countries such as Russia, Caribbean; India and the United States. I am in awe of the inherent beauty in all the people and cultures that I had the privilege of spending the formative years of my childhood.
Some of the highlights of my music career are being in a John Lennon tribute album by EMI at age sixteen and also being in an EMI love song compilation album alongside multi-platinum selling artists such as Norah Jones, Christina Aguilera and Toni Braxton. Also, thanks to my ability to sing in many languages and genres; I had solo performances in five-ten languages at Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium and Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall.
It was also a great honor to be invited to perform at the Gala Concert at Llangollen with the Welsh National Opera Orchestra where legendary vocalists such as Pavarotti previously performed at. I was also appointed by South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se as a Public Diplomacy Envoy and worked with the Korean government for two years.
Kiss Me at Midnight is your latest single. How did the song start life?
It all started with a melody. I said to myself: “Hmmm...this has a little bit of a Latin influence”. Not sure where it came from but I like letting the songs flow out of me instead of setting out to write a specific song. So, I roped in my father who speaks fluent Spanish to help me come up with the line “La vida nos inspira”. Then, I wrote the English lyrics and turned it into a song about dancing all night with the love of your life.
As the producer; I had to challenge myself and figure out a vocal and musical arrangement that would build upon the melody to create a sound that is Soul/R&B with a dash of Latin. So, I sat down with my arranger/co-producer and told him that I wanted a production that is musically rich and super-old-school.
Are you thinking ahead to an E.P. or album? Is Kiss Me at Midnight the start of a new project?
Kiss Me at Midnight is a start of a new project. My upcoming E.P., Free Soul, is a tribute to the classic American Soul/R&B and traditional Pop music that I grew up listening to because of my American father. I’m the creative director of the entire project overseeing every aspect of the music production and vocal production. I’m so blessed to have complete creative freedom in this project and to have collaborated with a great team of co-writers and arrangers.
Can you give me an idea of the artists, older and new, who inspire you and compel your own sound?
Growing up, I loved listening to and learning from artists such as Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder; Etta James, Aretha Franklin; Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. I love contemporary household names such as Alicia Keys and Bruno Mars. My writing is mostly influenced by the classic Soul and Pop sounds of America. When you listen to Free Soul you might hear that my songwriting style is inspired by the love songs of The Great American Songbook and I add a twist of Soul/R&B to that.
You found music early and have been performing since you were a child. Was there a moment you knew music was for you?
I started singing when I was a year and a half. I remember, when I was eleven-years-old, I declared to my parents that I’m going become a professional singer. I saw that being an entertainer is a wonderful way to make the world a brighter place. So, I’ve been working hard ever since and haven’t had a summer break since I was eleven.
I became really popular in Mongolia during my teen years and learned to use my celebrity as a tool to give back to the community. I wasn’t driven by the urge to become famous but was motivated by the desire to be in a position that allows me to give everything I have, including my talents.
Do you already have plans for 2019?
Well. I’m very excited to be releasing my new songs to the world. Free Soul is coming early-2019. I’m also working on writing and producing more songs to be shared with everyone. Besides promoting my original content, I’ll also be more active on YouTube and will be covering songs for my fans.
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Wow. There are too many to choose from. I’d say the most memorable moments are the times when you perform live in front of an audience. Seeing smiles on people’s faces or tears in their eyes when they are touched is what make me want to keep up my training and put on a better performance than the last.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
That’s a tricky question because there are countless masterpieces that I’ve enjoyed over the years. I’d say the following three albums had a deep influence on my upcoming E.P. At the Close of a Century by Stevie Wonder has all the collection of mind-blowing songs by him you can’t miss. I’m in so much awe of Stevie Wonder’s songwriting and singing. Bodyguard (soundtrack) by Whitney Houston was a huge influence for me as a singer as well. Frank Sinatra’s Greatest Hits. Because it awakened the romantic songwriter in me.
As Christmas is coming up; if you had to ask for one present, what would it be?
I would like to keep developing my ability to be content in any situation. I really believe that peace of mind is the key to true and lasting happiness. I would also like to include everyone else in this Christmas wish of mine. May all beings live in everlasting joy and love.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Oh. It would be a dream to open for Bruno Mars who is bringing back and re-introducing old-school music to the younger generation.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Be fearless and authentic in your art. Be unapologetically yourself. Then, go find the audience that resonates with the sound that comes from your soul. I have written Rumi-style lyrics and music when I was nineteen-years-old because that is what came out of me at that time. Don’t be afraid to evolve and change and grow - and never allow yourself to be defined by one thing. Art is about freedom and being completely creative. There is no right or wrong.
Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?
There aren’t any tour dates set at the moment. I’m currently putting together a live show and I hope to get on the road soon.
IN THIS PHOTO: Ella Mai
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I’ve been so busy writing and recording so I haven’t had the chance to discover many new artists. But, I am enjoying Ella Mai’s voice these days.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
When I was a little girl, a fellow musician and singer told me that, if I think of music as work I will never enjoy being an artist. So, I try to create music from a space of upliftment and joy; which means I don’t necessarily feel like I need to chill away from music. I also don’t listen or follow musical trends but focus mostly on going inward and bringing forth the melodies that comes out of my heart.
Most of my musical ideas are born when I’m unwinding and alone in my creative space. I love hanging out in nature, meditating and doing yoga. Last year, I had a two-month creative retreat in the mountains of Taiwan.
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).
Please play Spanish Harlem by the incomparable Aretha Franklin. Forever the Queen of Soul