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NEVAEH JOLIE / KEEPING IT PLAYA AT ALL COSTS

September 22, 2020

Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!

Nevaeh Jolie has one motto in life: keep it playa. The R&B songstress is in her own words, a “nerdy, cool, artsy fartsy girl, who doesn’t take no for an answer.” Growing up in Florida but moving to New Jersey at age 10, the 19-year-old knows she’s different, with different things to offer and different people to reach.

She states, “I don’t really like comparing myself to people, especially with what’s going on currently, because everybody has their own path and it’s definitely not a race.”

Going back in time, young Nevaeh looked up to the likes of Gwen Stefani, Aaliyah, Avril Lavigne, Pink, Lady Gaga, and Outkast. When it comes to her energy and her music, she’s proud to embrace the woman she’s evolved into today – equipped with unwavering passion and drive in everything she does.

At the top of this year, she released her highly-anticipated debut single titled “Too Much,” via Artistry Records and Def Jam Recordings. Holding fans over until her forthcoming EP, Game On, Nevaeh paints vivid pictures of love and relationships in both her lyrics and everyday life. Flaunt caught up with Nevaeh at the studio in Van Nuys, chatting about how she got good at singing, releasing her debut single “Too Much,” wanting to be the next Quentin Tarantino, and more!

Born in Florida, moving to New Jersey at 10, what was the household like growing up?

I did a lot of my growing up at younger ages. By the time I was 10, I was very situated in my soul and my character. I already knew what I wanted to do, had my journals and bullet-pointed my life out. I’ve always been a super organized kid. I have crazy OCD when it comes to shit I want to do in the future.

Growing up in Florida collecting lizards and bugs, being a crazy kid rolling around in the dirt is way different than coming to Jersey. Brick houses, there’s snow. A lot more structure. 2 different environments. All my family’s still in Florida, just my immediate: mom, brother, sister are in Jersey. It’s wild, half of my life.

Writing your goals in a book, what were you envisioning for yourself back then?

Some of them were outlandish. I wanted to be an astronaut, but also a singer at the same time. At 8 years old, I made this book series called Space Girls, me and my friends would go up to space and sing songs. I focused on my schoolwork. I was always having my own personal journal, writing down my poems. “I’m going to have a TV show. I’m going to have a movie. I’m going to be in a play.” I learned manifestation at a real early age, I learned how to do that without anybody telling me to do it. We all have that power to make our futures come true.

You grew up listening to what your mom listened to, which artists?

She had a crazy CD collection in our minivan, ranging from Erykah Badu to Sade to Evanescence to Portishead to Outkast. My mom had a real broad range, soulful to heavy metal. Definitely got me into music early. I went to this private school: only 11 kids, grades K through 5. A whole bunch of kids in one space. Recess time, we had a stage in the back. I’d either go out on the stage or stay inside with my teacher, Ms. Osborne. She’d play me The Beatles because she was obsessed with Paul McCartney, that was her boyfriend. She went to concerts, she was a Beatles fan girl. She made me a Beatles stan at 8 or 9, so I’m an old soul forreal.

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When did you get into Broadway? That’s not easy at all. 

When I moved to Jersey, we were by the train. We were by New York City. All my life, I’ve prepared for this. [laughs] My mom got me into acting classes. My first few gigs on Broadway like The Wiz and other musicals, I was only 10 years old.

Wow, that’s crazy young! 

Because I wanted to do music so bad. My mom said “you have to do other things to get there, because this isn’t working.” I wasn’t born with the natural talent of singing. My mom would literally say, “please stop Nevaeh. You could model.” So many vocal lessons later, I’m confident. I found my tone, how to control my voice. My voice is so strong. It’s a muscle, you can’t take no for an answer. I didn’t classify myself as a singer until I was in my senior year of high school, 3 girl groups later, concerts later. I’m already making music, uploading music, but I was more of a flow. More of a vibe. Now, bitch I’ve got pipes. I worked so hard from where I started.

I was listening to “Too Much,” how did you fall into this R&B pocket? 

R&B is the main base of my love for music, I build from that. I want to make R&B that’s so much more dimensional. I pull so much from other genres because that’s how I grew up, that’s how I process music. R&B’s my heart, my soul. My lifestyle and my aesthetics happened to find their way to season it up. Eventually, that genre’s going to change around. I definitely like paying homage to the R&B legends like Luther Vandross. That’s my debut single, pre-Corona. I’m happy that’s what I came out with.

What took so long for you to drop? I can only imagine you’re sitting on hella music.

Yeah, but it’s all about patience. It’s not a race. I be trying to make shit perfect.

Talk about working with Jozzy on the record. 

When I first heard it from Jozzy, I’m like “I’m cutting this today.” This is exactly what I’m going through. I automatically had a music video, a whole visualization for it. It turned out so good. It sounded so honest. Even though I didn’t write 100% of it, I felt it so much. I connected with the lyrics and the passion of it all. It’s a vulnerable song about keeping it playa, my whole mantra I live by. I be stressing, then I’m like “keep it playa.” I have Post-it notes all over my room. It comes from anxiety, being able to keep it at a calm space.

What does it really mean to keep it playa?

It’s so many things. I want to be a full-on, whole piece of art. It rhymes with my name. At a point in time, I was Nevaeh the Playa. That’s what they called me in my neighborhood. That’s my personality, really calm and nonchalant. I’m a flirtatious person, but I’ve calmed down a lot. [laughs] It became so much more than being pimp and being cool. Life is really a game, you have to take one careful step at a time or you’ll have to start that whole shit over and try something new. I take most of my aesthetics from video games and old technology, so it all comes full circle. At the end of the day, gotta keep it playa man.

Was “Too Much” inspired by a relationship you were in?

Yes. I revolve my music around my hopeless romantic-ness and being heartbroken all the time. I’m in a good, happy, nice relationship right now. We’re both artists, we both go through crazy ass shit. I’ll be in the studio, he’ll be in the studio. We’ll go home, listen to each other’s music like “oh, so that was on your chest?” [laughs]

How’d you end up remixing John Lindahl’s “Honest”? He’s so sweet.

He is! I pulled up to John’s album release party to say wassup, say hi to everybody and congratulate him. We’re both on Def Jam. We vibed, got each other’s contacts. He said “I want you on this song.” This is after Corona breaks out. He sends me the song with an open verse, I’m like “okay, I got this.” The day I’m on the way to the studio, they said “actually nevermind, we want you on this song.” Then he sends me “Honest.” I’m trying to think of a verse because I already had my other verse written. I just freestyle. I got a pen and paper, and went in. I fed off his energy, we did it from long-distance without being in the same session.

3 things you need in the studio? 

Water. I wouldn’t say I need weed, but I do. Definitely need to spark one. And my notes. I lose my phone sometimes. I forget about it and don’t get a new phone for 2 months. Go MIA, isolate. I lost my phone for 2 months, people hated me. I was walking around, living my life. I’ll be having full conversations and my phone will be in the next building, next door.

How would you describe your fashion style?

Very different, a mixture of a whole bunch of things. Emo rocker, R&B 90’s, mixed with futuristic, mixed with non-gender conforming, monochromatic tones. I like patterns too. I’m not very much of a brand person, I like shapes. I like how things fit me. I like cuts of jeans. I like cool pants, cool jackets. I don’t really wear shirts. [laughs] I just put a jacket on.

I love all your tattoos, you did some yourself?

Yeah, I’m actually about to get a tattoo gun and go crazy. My own art. All of these [points to left forearm], I drew.  As a kid, I used to draw. Me tattooing people is going to be in music videos. I’m getting on this wave, everybody’s going to want a tattoo from Nevaeh.

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What’s your most meaningful piece?

My bluejay, for my little brother. Each tattoo has different meanings. The rose is for my sister. This is my mom’s name, also my mom’s birth flower. This is for my best friend, Millie. She found a hurt dragonfly on the side of the road and said “get up lil bitch.” While we’re talking about some deep ass shit, she stops in the middle of us walking to help this sick dragonfly. She’s hella gangster, so her being nurturing is funny. As soon as I came back to LA, I needed a “get up lil bitch,” because I need that reminder.

How did you find your way to Def Jam?

My manager, Max Gousse put me in dope environments. Me coming out here [to LA], 6 months later already working with major producers like London on da Track. He’s playing my music in the offices at Def Jam, showing them me. They’re freaking out: “we need to meet her.” Although I already got other stuff going on, they’re super adamant. I walk in there with my pants sagging and my tracksuit on, boxers showing, “hey guys.” They’re like “this girl right here is a rockstar.” I remember them being so excited, looking through my page and showing me stuff from 2017. They said “we’ve been watching you,” pulling up pictures of me with short hair. Y’all are funny, watching me. [laughs] They’re super excited, I’m blessed.

What can we expect from your new single “OTB”?

“OTB” stands for Old Thing Back. It’s a very nostalgic, emotional song. Me pouring my heart out, wanting the early stages of a good relationship back. Things are starting to go past the honeymoon phase, starting to get too used to each other. Take me back to day one. Can you act like you like me as much as you did on the first date, please? The video’s very broad. I do all my treatments, definitely want to move on to cinematography and make my own movies. This video’s going to be real futuristic, different shit. I’m walking through timelines, overseeing other people’s experiences of them missing a time. It’s going to take you back.

Talk about wanting to be the next Quentin Tarantino.

Yes, I definitely do. Once I’m fully situated and have my feet in the ground with my music, I’m going to be legendary in filmmaking. Real artistic shit: color scheme-wise, the way it’s shot, everything. I know my brain sees the world so cool and so different. I’m going to shoot movies how I see the world, y’all are going to be like “whoa!” I’m ready. I’ve got a lot of learning to do, a lot of ventures I want to venture off into before I fully engulf myself. I want to be fully focused. I don’t want to do anything half-assed, I want to give it my 100% all.

Anything else you want to let us know?

My project Game On is coming. Be prepared for fire visuals, fire ass music most importantly. Keep it muthafuckin’ playa!

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