Slidin’ Thru: NBDY

June 28, 2019

Read the full interview on YoungCalifornia.com!

NBDY is pronounced “N-B-D-Y”, not nobody. The singer-songwriter describes his music as dark, but at the same time “there are lighter undertones.” Inspired by the likes of Brandy, The Weeknd, Usher, and Justin Nozuka (a Canadian artist), the New Jersey native’s sound is essentially a blend of all 4 artists combined. Read more…

Most recently, the Arista Records signee went on the road opening for Elhae, shutting down stages all across the States. In addition, he unleashed his highly-anticipated debut EP titled Admissions, with a standout feature from YBN Cordae.

For those who don’t know, who is NBDY?
I describe myself as a lone wolf. A person who doesn’t allow others to put a label on his head. A person who’s autonomous in every aspect of what it is he wants to achieves — I’m gonna achieve it.

How’d you get your name?
I grew up not really having too many friends. I moved around a lot, which made it hard for me to make long-lasting relationships. I always felt like a loner, a nobody. In high school, I couldn’t relate to people. I always had that feeling of a nobody. Adopting the name NBDY is me taking it and owning it, but flipping it and turning it into a positive rather than a negative. It’s more of a double-entendre.

Why should people fuck w/ you?
Because I’m a real ass n*gga. That’s what it is. If you like good music, if you like real, honest, genuine music, NBDY is the person you want to listen to. If you like people like DVSN, people talking about real things, that’s why people mess with me.

You’re from New Jersey, how does that play into your life and career?
It doesn’t really affect my career to be honest. [laughs] The music industry is not as easy to get involved out in New Jersey, as it is in NY or LA. Everyone’s in their own little pocket. There are many different types of musicians out there, but NJ is kind of segregated. You have different counties: Passaic County, Essex County, Bergen County. All these places have their own scene going on, instead of it being one big thing where we all come together. Out here, it’s easy to link with somebody who’s up in NoHo or downtown, whereas it’s not like that in Jersey.

What keeps you back home?
It’s home to me, born and raised out there. It’s cool to be able to get out away from entertainment. Everybody wanting to work with you and having access to you — I like not being accessible. I’m a person who likes to hang out with people. I like to collaborate with people but we need time to regenerate and build your energy back up. Being in Jersey allows me to do that.

At what point did you realize this music thing was for real?
When I quit my job last year in March. Basically said I’d do music off the strength of if I could continue to build a life for myself. I dropped “Used To,” my first single the year before in September 2017. Started making money from that, started seeing how it comes in. It made me start thinking smarter about how I allocate my money. I saved my money. I was working at the same time so had a double savings going on. I put into perspective how much money I needed to survive for a year, that’d still allow me to fund myself music-wise and living-wise. I came to that point in March like “fuck this shit, why am I still here?”

Where were you working?
I was working at The Sheraton in Times Square. It was cool. I wouldn’t do it again. [laughs] I’d never go back to that place.

How important is it to come to LA as an up and coming artist? 
It’s very important, there are very many different types of vibes and energies. People come from all different walks of life, all different genres of music. You might be in Tennessee where they only do one type of music. In Jersey where I’m from, we only have one type of sound. Everybody’s doing the same type of music. If you want to branch out, really stand out and be different from everybody else, coming to LA is a great way to add another layer to your style and swag.

What’s your favorite part about the West Coast?
The weed. Ya’ll got the best weed out here, but I also do love the musicians.

You released “Battlezone” this year. What was your mindset creating this one?
I wanted to be as honest and as vulnerable as I could in the moment. I was in a relationship and kept finding myself at this brick wall. Instead of me throwing my hands up and saying “I’m done,” I took into consideration everything we went through. All the history we had. We kept on trying to make it work but every single time, we’d always end up at that brick wall. Same shit, same thing we talked about before. “Battlezone” is my way of writing through that frustration, my way of getting through to her. Because I couldn’t with my regular words, I wrote it in a song.

Best memory shooting the visual?
The first day we shot the visual, we’re in this little industrial street down in Queens (Long Island City). A whole bunch of homies pulled up, I put them in my merch. We’re mobbin’ out. It was really dope having all the homies with me. The camera angles! This was the first big budget video I’ve done, first time seeing them do 360 on the cameras. It was crazy, that was a dope moment. We had a little kickback/house party too, but that scene didn’t make it to the video. It’s in the director’s cut.

Talk about signing to Arista Records.
Arista is a legacy label, it used to be under Clive Davis who was the original CEO. He passed it down to David Massey. They just relaunched with Sony last year, I’m their first urban act. For me, it’s crazy. I grew up loving a lot of the artists who came from Arista. A lot of those artists are a part of who I am now. Everything came full circle when they came to me and said “we want you to be on our label!”

What is it you want fans to get from your story?
My story is not just my story, it’s everybody else’s story. A lot of us have these walls up in front of us. Sometimes, if we get rid of all those fucking labels and just accept one another — understand that we’re human and we go through the same things — then we can heal together as people. I want my music to make it easier for people to have these conversations. I want to be able to heal families. What I’ve been doing has been working with my family thankfully. Them seeing me come out of my shell from being this real shy kid to being this n*gga on stage talking to all the girls, it’s showing them maybe we shouldn’t have settled. Maybe we should’ve gone for what we wanted, maybe we shouldn’t have allowed those fears to keep us where we are. That’s what I want my legacy to be as an artist.

What are some goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?
I want to continue growing my wolf pack as massively as I can. I’m not one who chases too many accolades, but a world tour would be one of the greatest accomplishments for me. To perform at the O2 Arena in England or the Sydney arena down in Australi., I have a lot of fans out there who’ve been trying to get me to come out, but it’s way too expensive.

How important is social media for your career?
Just as important as it is to be putting out music, because social media is a marketing tool. If you want people to see your content, you have to understand marketing. Instagram’s one of the best tools right now for people who are broke and don’t know where to start. I learned everything I know from being social on Youtube, Twitter, Snapchat. Seeing how people interact with certain things. You as a person start to become a brand. They start to identify certain things with you, you learn more about yourself. I learned a lot about myself, especially with Snapchat. I had to cut Snapchat off. I don’t trust it. [laughs] You know what Jetblue’s doing now? They’re doing facial recognition, you don’t even need your boarding pass or passport. You walk through and they scan your face. How the hell y’all know it’s me? How y’all got my face? I don’t trust it. Apple and Google, they’re sharing information with big corporations. It makes things easier and more fluid, but it’s scary.

Favorite person to follow?
I love Amine, he’s a character. Masego’s fire. Beyonce of course. SZA, I’m always stalking her. Normani too, I like her page a lot.

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?
I’d be an entrepreneur for sure. Probably have my own restaurant or a couple of restaurants. I’d be involved in real estate. Financial advising. I do all that stuff now on the side, but that’d be my main thing.

Favorite song to perform in a set?
“Used To.” That single got me right here in this chair right now. If I never put that out, you never would’ve come across me. That song changed a lot. It helped me get the deal, everything. It hasn’t even been a full 2 years since I’ve been doing NBDY. It’s only been a year and some change, this September will make it 2 years.

What’s the best encounter you had with a fan?
I signed my first titty down in San Francisco, that energy was crazy. I can’t wait to go back. I had somebody tell me I was their husband. A lot of people tell me that but in Atlanta, it was different. She was really convinced I was her husband after my set.

Best memory on tour with Elhae so far?
In Boston, I saw somebody get body slammed and this girl got kicked out. She was doing the most. I don’t know if she was on anything, but she was wildin’ and they had to kick her out. Somebody ran in during my sound check. I saw the bodyguard pick them up and slam them on the floor. They dragged them out. [laughs]

Who’s the most played artist on your phone?
Right now, Summer Walker. I love Summer Walker a lot.

Dream collab?
Mahalia, that’d be dope. She’s a London based artist who gets a lot of love from Toronto and the East Coast. Mahalia’s really dope. I have a feature that’s with one of my #1 choice to collaborate with, he’s gonna be on my EP. I can’t say yet.

What advice do you have for an aspiring NBDY?
You can’t be afraid to leap over the wall. When that fear comes into your heart, you gotta go around and work your way through it. Fear comes from the unknown, us not knowing what’s on the other side. If it won’t kill you, what’s the worst that can happen? That’s basically how I rationalize my decision-making. I see money as something that’s always attainable. If I lose out on a little money, I know I can get it back with the right amount of hustle. Just go for it! Don’t be afraid to learn and apply. Everything is trial and error. You gotta fail a million times before you get a step up.


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