NIA is an independent artist in the Philadelphia area. Her recent single, “The Math,” represents the symbolic and monumental nature of how the current struggle affects us as a community. Featuring live audio from 2020 protests, it captures the raw essence of the chaos, while connecting it to lo-fi/r&b sounds. Not only is it motivational, but it serves as a theme song to this current era of activism.
NIA comes from a family of eight children, five of whom were raised by her mother. Both of her parents are from Trinidad and Tobago. NIA was born in Queens, N.Y., and then moved to Trinidad for a few years. She began writing songs as a child.
PW recently caught up with NIA to talk about her music and career.
Talk a little about your early years. When did you get into music? Who were some of your early influences?
I honestly can’t remember a day when I wasn’t completely immersed within the art of creativity, especially musicality. I remember living in Trinidad as a child, just loving all the music that I heard and always wanting to learn more. One of my clearest memories from that time was listening to Shaggy’s “Hot Shot” album, which I still bump to this day.
I loved Michael Jackson when I was younger, like to the point where I was watching his concert DVDs constantly. People used to give me magazines and posters of him because they knew. I always felt like he was the ultimate artist, I still do. He was also very odd and misunderstood, and I always felt that same way amongst my peers no matter where I lived.
Sade is also another artist who I believe is the ultimate artist. Michael has the entertainment factor and talent down, but I believe Sade carries that spiritual and mental factor that it takes to make amazing music. Her approach to music inspires the way I write my songs, and the emotion I aim to evoke in my music.
Music is a very healing thing, I’ve always been more intentional about the music I indulge in, a lot more than everyone else around me.
How did your recent single, “The Math,” come about? Talk a little about both the production process and the message in the song.
I made “The Math” during a very transitional part of my life. I was squatting at a friend’s apartment and I just decided to get really creative one day. I made around three songs within a few hours, one of them resulting in “The Math.” The beat was complete that day, but it wasn’t until I attended a protest that I collected the rest of the audio. To me, the coolest thing about that song was the audio I recorded at the protest; it made it come full circle.
The message in this song is about tolerance, and also lighthearted fun. The song’s political symbolism represents the vocal rage and boldness of this generation of young people. My verses indicate playfulness and distraction, just putting your mind elsewhere amid the madness because it’s so overwhelming. I don’t like to be too direct in how I express these things, so I let the people take their best guess.
How have your fans responded to “The Math”? How can people access the song?
They really like it, the old-school style seems really refreshing to them. It’s always nice when people appreciate your art, any artist knows how hard it is to allow their vulnerability to be put on display.
The song is available on all streaming platforms, and its video companion is also on YouTube!
What did you find when you made the move to Philadelphia’s music scene? Are there any local artists you’d like to collaborate with?
I found my footing in terms of what I want people to feel when they listen to my music, and who I am at my core when it comes to my approach to my art. I’ve worked with a few local artists such as Tito_Ohh, Daniel Kuya & OJ Mountain. Aside from that though, I still have so much more to see and so many other artists to connect with. There seems to be a whole community of artists in this city that I haven’t been able to quite tap into yet. I’m not worried about it though, I’m literally just getting started.
What’s coming up for you in the next few months?
The next few months will be full of single releases, featuring their respective video companions. This year is all about output and execution for me, though I’m still working on the specifics in terms of marketing strategy. I’m really excited to share more of my work with the world. I feel like I just get better with time, and I’m so glad that I’m finally in a place (spiritually) to just let it all out.
What are the best ways for your fans to stay current with what you’re doing?
Keep streaming my music, keep watching my videos, check me out on social media (Instagram: nprimusxx). There is so much more to come!
You can check out NIA’s “Therapy” project at: distrokid.com/hyperfollow/nia19/therapy.