She’s a bi-coastal super star and I don’t think she knows it. Her name is Nikki Jonet. She sings. Raps. Has an impeccable dose of eclectic style and is performing tonight at Whiskey Go-Go. I can give you many reasons why you don’t want to miss out on Nikki’s show tonight, but I’ll just let you read my interview with her and find out for yourself.
Read more inside.
What attracted you to engage in the world of musical theater?
It wasn’t really a choice I made. I always loved singing and dancing when I was a little girl and my parents found a local theater group and enrolled me. It became my passion. I’m always thankful that they did that for me.
What makes your music vocally challenging?
I guess I do? I write all my own melodies and lyrics. I don’t like to miss a word or note so I’m very methodical when I write. There’s a million ways to say any one thing so I try and find a sound or style that comes from a personal place and thinking of my voice as an instrument I just play around with it and see what comes. It’s a trial and error process.
What is your sound? What artists would you compare yourself to? If any.
Over the past few years I’ve experimented with a lot of different sounds. This album, I feel, was a culmination of all that. Growing up I listened to everything from Frank Sinatra to Motown Soul to Van Morrisson because of my father. My music base in and of itself is eclectic. What I hate most about the industry is the need to categorize and put a specific genre to every song. I think the best songs don’t fit in a box. And the “best best” songs redefine pop music; they don’t conform to it. I tried to take hip-hop/rap elements as far as beat and percussion and blend it in a contemporary way- a bit electro, moomba, and just remain true to what I was talking about as a twenty-three year old girl. The lyrical content in a way is the most defining element I think.
Your fashion style is eclectic, neon and outside of the box. Where do you get your inspiration from?
My mom. Haha I mean at 54 she’s still more stylish and beautiful than I’ll ever be. She always showed me the “right” way to do something or wear something and then told me put my own spin on it. I don’t put too much thought into what I wear as much as how I wear it. Certain pieces just never get old. A classic button down, a pair of stilettos. Those are just staples of fashion that are redefined over and over again. If anything I just enjoy contradictions. Give me a ball gown, some converse sneakers and a top hat. I like the idea of playing dress up.
Your favorite LA stores to shop?
Well to be honest I haven’t really been in LA long enough to “shop.” In New York I did a lot of thrift shopping. I like the idea that a piece of clothing has some wear to it – it’s been around. It lived in another time. If it defines my style at a given point I’ll get it. Being on Melrose reminds me of Soho. You can just walk along and find a bunch of really talented designers and even though there are obvious trends there’s still an array of unique styles. I don’t want to lie though – there’s a pink leather jacket from Joy Rich I’m going to need to invest in!
Where do you go to find your happy place?
My roof. My building has a pool on the roof with a view of the Hollywood sign. I moved in without really ever seeing the apartment so that was a nice surprise. I like to actually keep notebooks and write down my musical ideas. Going up there at night is definitely a happy place. It’s like I’m surrounded by the lights and energy of Hollywood but it really does feel like my own space.
Life. My music is like reading a diary of my feelings. I don’t know if that’s good or bad for the people in my life haha But honestly, I can’t really experience something deeply without turning it into some sort of music. My relationships- the good parts the bad parts- growing up- it’s all in there.
What can fans expect to see at your Whiskey Go Go performance?
Well I put a lot of time into thinking how I wanted the live show to feel and look. I’ve played in bands for years and I love the idea of jamming out with a bunch of talented musicians more than anything- but for the type of range I wanted on this EP I knew I needed a DJ. There’s dance elements, old school hip hop elements, raggae dance hall elements so I needed a realistic way to bring that to the stage. I brought my boy from New York to L.A. and asked if he would live on my couch and do this thing with me. He was down and now we’re just living it and trying to make it work. We’re both very passionate about music so it’s just a lifestyle we both want no matter what. My shows are pretty theatrical because of the musical theater background. I also like to just sit on the floor and sing ballads in the middle of a set. So I guess like I said before- just a bunch of stuff that hopefully comes together in a way people appreciate.
Do you think you would’ve been able to build such a strong musical following in New York as you have in Los Angeles?
I don’t understand this question 🙂 I was in New York first so that was my grind spot. I put A LOT of time into finding out who I was in New York. That was definitely important when I came out here. I knew I put in the time. I went through a lot of bullshit, built my name up, started a few bands, put together shows, solidified what I wanted to talk about and how. I wouldn’t give up a minute I spent in New York. It was my teacher in so many ways. I would never be where I am now without the hard work I put in back East.
As someone with a lot of goals and aspirations, what do you say to those trying to make a name for themselves?
It’s so funny because only very recently have I even been able to step back and know what the fuck I was talking about when giving advice. I got to a point where I stopped trying to be something and just decided to let the journey take it’s course. I guess I’d tell them first and foremost decide what the fuck you’re all about and have some definite shit you DO and DON’T do. People respond to standards. Be serious about what you put your name on… and don’t think there’s a period to the end of the sentence. This industry is just comma after comma. That’s kind of the beauty of it.
Explain Valley of the Drugs. Why should people listen to this album?
Well, the album itself is a work in progress and it’s called RAW. Valley of the Drugs is a single off the album. The album is just a culmination of the past few years. My kind of realization that I had a lot to say and I didn’t want to to be boxed out of saying any of it. I’m not so concerned with the idea of right and wrong anymore. I’m just more concerned with our freedom to say it. My generation is so wonderful. so crazy, so crass in the best way possible. We’re children of generations before that had so many rules of propriety. We’ve basically said fuck propriety. I don’t know if that’s “good” or “bad” but we’re definitely a generation that is going to have to get serious about a lot of real issues before we know it or are ready for it. I think that’s why we don’t want to grow up. That ideology should be explored. We’re dreamers, we’re explorers, we don’t want to settle for jobs we don’t want and schedules that keep us from enjoying what’s around us. This album doesn’t have to mean anything or it can mean everything- it’s up to you. It’s just my most “raw” approach to being totally honest.
When making Valley of the Drugs, what message, sound and feeling did you want to get across to your fans?
Valley of the drugs just seems like a party song about drugs at first. It’s not. I mean it is about drugs. It’s more of a metaphor for drugs though. It’s about a relationship that felt like a drug. And that shit was real. I came to L.A. and felt like I took the best drug I ever got my hands on. I knew it wasn’t good for me but at the time I needed it. I wrote about it. I likened it to drugs. I also wanted to talk about drugs blatantly. It’s funny what society says is “ok”. I wanted to say what everyone else was inferring lyrically. I’m from Staten Island. Unfortunately we have the highest teen prescription pill epidemic of all the five boroughs in NYC. I grew up around my friends getting hooked on drugs in their parent’s medicine cabinets. Lives ruined. I can’t change policy but if I can even just explore an idea and get the topic into public forum I guess that’s all I can ask for as an artist. I’m not going to talk about that shit explicitly in the song because it’s not my m.o. but I want to at least breach the discussion by bringing it up.
Nikki Jonet is raw. A musical talent that pushing the art to another level. She’s inspired by life and puts on a helleva performance that you can see tonight!
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