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NIKITAA | THE “GODDESS”

July 23, 2020

Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!

Nikitaa is here to represent her home country of India. The South Asian singer-songwriter is a whole vibe, blending the genres of pop and R&B and fusing them into her own majestic sound and style. When it comes to her music, she strives to uplift the masses all around the world and give them that boost of confidence we all need. The 25-year-old states, “There’s not a lot of us that are super well-known or successful, especially in pop and R&B. It’s definitely really interesting to be in this space, you get to carve out your own niche.”

In 2015, Nikitaa travelled to the United States after deciding to go to music school to take her singing to the next level. After doing an Associate’s degree at Musicians Institute, she graduated top of her class and landed some incredible opportunities. Writing for the likes of RedOne, Joseph Crow, and Ferras on “Exodus,” her career began to take off in front of her eyes.

On the heels of her last single “Clutch,” she releases her new flirty single titled “Goddess.” Flaunt caught up with Nikitaa via Instagram Live, who was wide awake in India at 3:30am in the morning. Read below as we chat about her upbringing overseas, coming to Los Angeles, shooting “Clutch” on her phone, inspiration behind “Goddess,” and more!

Being from India, what was the household like growing up?

It was really great, really vibrant. I haven’t been back in 5 years, this is my first time being back after being fully immersed in LA. I’m hit with so many memories growing up, even something as simple as the sound of the birds in the summertime and the rain. Being around my grandma — the grandma with all the wise old stories is true for me, I definitely grew up with all that. It was a really fulfilled, colorful childhood.

Were you afraid coming to LA, was there a culture shock?

The part I had to adapt the most to was living by myself. I have cousins and relatives in America, visited a few times so it wasn’t a total culture shock. My family’s mostly in California, so I had a sense of what it’s like to be there. I wasn’t totally in that culture shock mode but living alone after living in a household with everybody — 3 generations worth of people in one house, everyone helping each other. Being by yourself is definitely an adjustment, but I loved it. I love being on my own, being more independent. I enjoy it.

Biggest influences growing up?

On one hand with my mom, we’d always listen to old Bollywood music from the 60’s and 70’s. All the iconic composers and singers from that era, definitely grew up singing and listening all of the time. On the other hand when I was really young like 4 or 5, my brother was really into rock music. He’s my introduction to English music in general. First it was rock, then it was hip-hop, then it was pop and R&B. So many different layers. We’d listen to Metallica and Iron Maiden together. It’d disturb my mother because her little daughter’s listening to rock music, but that’s my first real love. At 12 or 13, I really fell in love with pop and R&B: Toni Braxton, Whitney Houston, Beyoncé. I’d sit in my room every evening after school and sing all of their hit songs on repeat, to the point where my mom started requesting me to do certain songs. “Do that one!” [laughs]

“Clutch” hit one million views in less than 2 months, how does that make you feel?

It feels absolutely amazing. You dream of the milestone, it comes and you’re like, “whoa this is crazy.” It was largely organic, the engagement was really great. Even on the backend of things, people are watching it almost all the way through. The comments are so great, it’s really cool.

Who or what inspired this record?

“Clutch” was inspired by the first year I moved to LA, when I was in music school. Growing up in India, no one really questions the way you look or your ethnicity because you’re surrounded by Indians. When you move to a whole different country, the shock sets in. Men will start to fantasize you. The one comment I’d always get is “you’re so ethnically ambiguous,” suddenly that’s extremely appealing to every guy I came across. It’s very frustrating because it seemed like my sexuality and my appearance became something to be gawked at. That record was definitely born out of that frustration, wanting to take that experience and put it out there. No, this is not about you. My body’s for me, my sexuality’s for me, my expression’s for me.

You actually made this in quarantine on your iPhone X, best memory from the video shoot?

I didn’t want to do it. [laughs] I was actually in LA when the pandemic really started to take off. Countries started announcing travel bans, I had to cut my LA trip short to go to India. Since I flew back, I had to quarantine myself. Within that quarantine, India announced this massive lockdown saying you can’t leave your home at all. Unless you’re buying essentials, you’re not allowed to step outside. Extremely strict, way stricter than Los Angeles or any part of California. I had all these plans to shoot this video, even contacted this director I wanted to work with. It fell apart obviously. I wanted this song to have a proper video.

An A&R friend within the industry visited my home in India and said ”your house is really cool, why don’t you shoot inside your house? You can do it on your phone, it’s not that bad.” I’m like “I don’t want to do that!” I grossly underestimated the capabilities of a phone, and my mind putting all the angles together. We started shooting and it looked so good. It felt really great because my family banded together around me like “okay, we’ll do whatever’s needed to help you out.” My dad’s holding the ring light, my mom’s holding the stool, it was a cool family experience. They got a chance to see a small bit of what it’s like to shoot a music video, edit it and put it together.

You edited it yourself? I tried, it’s hard!

I edited it myself, color corrected, everything. I had to learn real quick. In the beginning, I’m like “I don’t know how to do this!” It looked so intimidating, but I had to go for it.

 

What’s one thing you want fans to get from “Goddess”?

All of my music is about empowerment. I actually received a DM from a fan the other day, she reached out saying “I heard this song first thing in the morning and thought to myself ‘wow, this must be what it feels like to be a woman who loves herself’.” That really inspired me, she hit the nail on the head. That’s exactly how I want people to feel about their femininity. Whether it’s a male, female, non-binary, you should feel that way about yourself.

What is it that you want fans to get from your story?

Anything’s possible. It’s possible to carve out your own niche. Sometimes, the only thing that’s really getting in your way is you. Starting off, I wanted to do pop and R&B but what am I going to do? I’m a brown girl, how’s this going to make any sense? I realized you have to put that doubtful part of you aside and go for it. When you do, amazing things can happen. You can actually have an amazing career the way you want it. The empowerment and self-love bleeds through the music, I really hope people get that.

3 things you need in the studio?

I love incense, it feels so calming. Non-judgmental people, because I talk a lot in between takes and say really silly things. I get really goofy, so I need people not judging what’s coming out of my mouth. Third thing, I always need water.

What would you be doing if you weren’t doing music?

I’d be dancing, those were my first 2 loves. I started doing those almost at the same time growing up. I started singing and taking lessons when I was 3, started dancing when I was 4. I was a part of a dance company for a very brief amount of time in my late teens, took that more seriously for about a year. If I wasn’t singing, I’d definitely be dancing.

How would you describe your fashion style? 

I was raised to wear whatever makes you feel super confident. My mom had this experience with her mom, where my nana would stitch so much of her clothing by hand herself like dresses and tops. My mom instilled that in me too. She’d either do herself or go to the tailor down the street. She’d let me design my own clothes, let my mind run with what I wanted to do. There was no restriction of I had to look like this, or this is what’s trending right now. She encouraged me to wear whatever made me feel confident and good about myself. If it doesn’t make you feel good, chuck it out the window. [laughs] It’s not important, don’t do it. One thing that’s always in common for me: if it doesn’t make me feel confident or good about myself, I won’t wear it. Point blank period.

Goals yourself as an artist at this point of your career?

During the lockdown, a lot of independent artists lost the ability to both make and release music. A lot of them either don’t have the funding or don’t have access to studios. The biggest goal is to be consistent with releases. I feel blessed to have enough space in my home to have a little setup on the side. I can record my own vocals, produce my own shit, and put it out. That’s really great.

I want to definitely create a notable space for myself. The first few releases are always the introduction of the artist, announcing you’re here. In the independence space, you’re carving that space for yourself. It inspires other brown creatives who are wanting to do this.

Anything else you want to let us know?

I hope you guys stream this song and watch the video. More importantly, I hope everyone’s safe. Stay safe and stay aware because there’s too much happening in the world.

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