INTERVIEW: Nikki Hayes



Nikki Hayes


THE fabulous Nikki Hayes


has been talking with me about her new single, Move, and what the story behind the track is. I ask whether there is more material coming and what compelled Hayes to move from Chicago to Arizona – she highlights some rising artists to look out for.

Hayes tells me how she got into music and which artists are important to her; if there are any gigs coming up; a few albums that are important to her – she ends the interview by choosing a great track.


Hi, Nikki. How are you? How has your week been?

Hi. I’m great and my week has been great as well. Any new day to wake up is already a blessing.

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?

Well. I’m Nikki Hayes. I’m an R&B singer-songwriter. The music can tell you more about me than I can without giving too much.

Move is your new release. What is the story behind the track?

The story behind Move is really about being so drawn or intrigued by someone but not really knowing how to act on it or how to go about it because of fears or uncertainty - which was something that I had a habit of doing at the time.

Will there be more material coming next year do you think?

Yes. There will definitely be more material next year. I still have more songs to release and I’m always writing.


Who do you rank as music idols and inspirations? Did you grow up around a lot of music?

I did grow up on a lot of music. My parents played a lot of music from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Chaka Khan, Anita Baker; Toni Braxton, Al Jarreau; Sade, Whitney; Aretha and many others as well as music from the ’90s/’00s that my sisters and I grew up on; just very iconic and distinct voices which was definitely an influence.

Do you think there was a moment you got into music? Were others saying you needed to perform or was it the artists you grew up around that helped you make that decision?

I would say a little bit of both.

The artists I grew up listening to were influences but what also played a role was watching my older sisters sing. They have beautiful voices and are naturally gifted in vocals. I would hear them sing and want to join them but I could not sing at all so they wouldn’t let me. I was so determined that I would go in basement and sing all day until it didn’t sound so bad.

What promoted your move from Chicago to Arizona? Is there a big shift in terms of music scenes and flavours?

The fact that Arizona is so close to Los Angeles promoted the move with my family. It has been an adjustment…however; things are moving along. I’ll be performing at the Mesa Music Festival in November and I can’t wait to have more shows here as well as other places.


What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?

Just to have more people listen, feel and relate to the music in some way and, really, that’s my overall goal. If I know that what I love the most can make people feel something, help someone through something or gives listeners an escape, then I’m happy because making the music did just that for me.

Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?

You know; I used to look at specific things from my time in music as favorites but now not so much. Each thing I do in music has been a time of growth and I feel the euphoria each time I do something in music - whether it’s going to the studio, writing a song; finding a funky chord, exercising my vocals or studying the music industry.

Each thing I do is for growth and beneficial to me as an artist and it’s a good and memorable feeling every time. One unforgettable moment in music was performing at The Wire in Berwyn, hosted by IllaNoize. The love and energy from the crowd as well as well as the energy from the dancers was magical.


Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?

Ooooh; that’s hard, I can’t choose that but I can choose albums that I really enjoy and stand timeless to me.

For All We Know by NAO

The reason is for the lyrics, production; the emotion she pours from her voice into the song as well as the harmonies. I can listen to that album all the way through without skipping every time and also learn something new about each song, whether it was an instrument or a vocal inflection that I didn’t know was present before.

Dangerously in Love by Beyoncé

It is an album that is very nostalgic album for me. It is another album that I can listen to the whole way through. Each song from the album made me feel and do a lot of things: dance; cry, ‘think’ I’m in love at eight-years-old. But, the beauty of hearing things that young was that I could relate to them on other levels when I got older. I grew up on the album and I still grow with that album.

19 by Adele

Which, I believe, was Adele’s first album. The first song I heard by Adele was from that album and actually ended up being my first YouTube video. There was a lot of raw and organic sounds vocally and instrumentally. Another one that I can feel the emotion oozing from her in each song.

If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?

There are so many to choose from. There are many talented R&B artists out right now: NAO, H.E.R.; SZA, Brent Faiyaz; Daniel Caesar…the list goes on but, really, I’d love to support talented artists that I can learn from as far as the art of touring goes: work ethic on tour, vocal care on tour; maintenance internally and externally when on the road.

If I can just have some tea with honey and lemon; room temperature water and some food when I’m done performing then I’m happy.


What advice would you give to new artists coming through?

Get to know who you are as a person and that will bleed on to you as an artist. Understand that you will and have to grow as person as you go through life, thus as an artist. Keep those cores of who you are and have comfort in that so that no one takes advantage or tries to change you…but always grow.

Do you have tour dates coming up? Where can we catch you play?

My nearest show as the Mesa Music Festival in November in Downtown Mesa, Arizona. I will share more details soon!


 IN THIS PHOTO: H.E.R/PHOTO CREDIT: Highsnobiety/Juan Veloz

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?

Some newer artists that I’m listening to right now are the artists I mentioned above: NAO, H.E.R.; Brent Faiyaz and Daniel Caesar. Also Nikki Hayes; you can download her music on Spotify and all other streaming platforms…


 IN THIS PHOTO: Daniel Caesar/PHOTO CREDIT: Keavan J. Yazdani 

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?

Not really. Honestly, when I’m not working on music; listening to music is a time of unwinding and an escape for me. I go out with my family and loved ones but focus should always be about the music and how I can grow in that.

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).

Rather BeH.E.R.


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