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NIKI DEMAR / BREAKING INTO HER SOLO ARTISTRY

October 28, 2020

Read the full interview on Flaunt.com!

Niki DeMar is here to prove her worth as a solo artist, one hit at a time. Coming up as one-half of Niki and Gabi alongside her twin sister, the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania native is making her mark in the music industry, inspiring and entertaining the masses all over the world. Boasting over 3.8 million followers on Instagram alone, Niki is a walking testimony that you can do anything you set your mind to, as long as you work hard and stay passionate.

Debuting her down-to-earth personality, unique style and fashion, contagious sense of humor, and of course, undeniable vocal talents, Niki is now focused on herself more than ever before. This entire year has been about “who is Niki?” because for the longest time, she was dependent on career success and financially on her twin sister. While subscribers and followers always saw them as one thing, she quickly got a taste of what she wanted from their Youtube channel — taking it even farther.

With an unwavering love for music, Niki reveals she wanted one thing while Gabi wanted another. She states, “I felt if she didn’t go with me, I didn’t have those opportunities because nobody wanted Niki without Gabi. It was a really confusing, hard, emotional, sad time. It really took a toll on my self-esteem. I thought ‘oh, I’m not relevant or important enough on my own.”

Now, Niki unveils another layer to artistry, opening up about her own struggles with mental health and bipolar disorder. From her different hair colors to her lifestyle vlogs, she finds confidence in herself as a powerful, bisexual woman navigating through this thing called life. Today, she releases her vulnerable new single titled “Bite Of Me,” following the success of “Alone In My Car.”

Flaunt caught up with Niki at the Kandypens House in the hills to discuss coming up in her hometown in Pennsylvania, how she found herself amidst the fog, singing and playing piano since way before Youtube, her new singles, her philanthropy, and more!

When did you and your twin sister Gabi start doing Youtube?

2015 we really hit a million subscribers. I didn’t start my side channel, NIKI DEMAR, until 2015. I call it my side channel, it’s my main channel now. [laughs] I started Niki and Gabi in 2012, then my channel in 2015. By all means, I didn’t take it seriously until this year. I put Niki and Gabi before myself, I literally neglected myself which goes into my new single. I’m singing about that experience, this is the most honest I’ve ever been with my fans.

Being from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, what were you seeing growing up?

I’m one of the YouTubers who didn’t just pick up and move here, because I was tied to my sister who bought a house in Pennsylvania. Obviously, we want completely different things. Not going to lie growing up there, I didn’t fit in. I’m bisexual, I’m creative. I’m also a twin, we’ve made YouTube videos before anyone ever put their faces online. We started in 2011, literally so early but that’s what we loved. We didn’t fit in. It’s so interesting now to see kids be so accepted for coming out and being on TikTok, it’s a whole different world. Me and my sister almost had to pave the way in our hometown, we literally dealt with so much shit. Now it’s so accepted, so crazy.

What did you have to deal with?

Our teachers would watch our videos in class and kids would make fun of us. Our house got egged, we got pumpkins smashed on our cars. Crazy shit. People were really conservative and jealous. When someone’s different out there, they made you feel bad for being different. Being different is what makes you successful in the end. Back then, you’re supposed to be like everybody else.

What was the moment you girls took off?

My parents would always give me and my sister shit for not going to football games or school dances, but we knew what we’re doing. We had a plan. We’d come home every weekend from college and film videos instead of partying like normal college kids. They’d be hard on us until 2013, we had our first Meet & Greet in our hometown. The line wrapped around the same block multiple times in our city. Once they saw the fans in real life, they started becoming momager and dadager. They went from not supporting it to wanting to be so involved, so it’s definitely been a lot.

You said your sister wanted something different, what is it that she wanted?

At first, my dad bought us biology books for Christmas. They wanted us to be dentists because they’re dentists. My parents would always say “Niki’s the attorney of the family, Niki’s the lawyer.” Excuse me, what? [laughs]  Anything professional is what they wanted. Now that they see everything we’re doing without having a college degree, they’re in shock too. In order to be where they are, they had to go to so many years of school. It’s a big pill to swallow for my whole family.

Have you always wanted to do music?

I’ve wanted to do music since before my YouTube success. Every school talent show, me and my sister would sing together.

Do you guys look exactly alike?

No, when we’re little we did. Now that we’re older, we have our own different vibes. Our parents always said “the twins, you guys are so great together.” Every parent wants to see their twins stay together. We always wanted to go our separate ways, but we never did because we had so many people around us saying “but what about Niki and Gabi?!” We always did music way before YouTube. A lot of YouTubers or TikTokers gain this mass amount of audience, they’re like “oh, maybe I’ll try music.” Which is cool because music is definitely fun and everybody should try it, but sometimes it’s hard making the transition to be taken seriously when that happens. I’ve been playing the piano, singing, writing, since before YouTube.

I played piano for 10 years, my parents made me.

Same, I had to play violin and piano. But I quit violin, I was so bored. [laughs]

I hated those recitals! 

For recitals, it was so awkward for me to have to play in a church in front of everybody’s parents. I hated those, I avoided them at all cost. I want to play guitar. I want to learn how to play guitar because that’d make my songs so much better. I’m not really an acoustic girl but guitar is my next project.

Are you already learning?

I want to, I keep saying that. I’m so busy, but I do need to make time for it.

Congrats on “Alone In My Car” hitting a million views! How does that make you feel?

Oh my god. Back in the day, if you would’ve told me that me on my own would get a million views, I wouldn’t believe you. I thought nobody cared about me, they cared about Niki and Gabi.

What made you think that?

I’d experiment on my own and upload things on my own but they would never perform as well as Niki and Gabi. I’d hear things from my family and friends, people around me glorified that channel too. Same with the subscribers. Whenever I’d try to do my own thing, it wasn’t as supported and didn’t perform as well. That broke my heart a little bit because I have such different passions than my sister. We’re very open about this, we fight all the time to find common ground to film. I hate associating my passion with negativity, it totally taints the whole experience. Doing my own thing has been completely peaceful to be honest, it’s no more fighting.

Talk about your new single “Bite of Me” being inspired by quarantine.

I actually had “Bite Of Me” written in January this year before quarantine, and once quarantine hit, I knew I needed to put it to the side and write about the unique situation of being in isolation hence the birth of “Alone In My Car”, which was released first.

“Bite Of Me” was a song I wrote when I realized why I was so unhappy and I wanted to break a people-pleasing cycle I was stuck in. The dark side to people pleasing, is that you neglect what you actually want and believe, in order to please others, because you don’t believe in your own wants or needs without the approval or acceptance of others. It is a form of extreme low self-esteem, and you start to forget who you are.

I had a moment last January at the start of 2020, where I “woke up” from my brain fog and realized what was happening. I was making others’ lives easier, while complicating and neglecting my own, to the point of utter numbness and depression. I realized I was giving all my best faces to everyone else, but when it was time for Niki, she had nothing left of herself, but an exhausted shell of herself. I wrote this song in that moment of understanding.

“If I disappeared, other people’s lives would fall apart without me.” I realized that even though people around me made me feel small, that wasn’t the truth. I began to claim my life back since I was neglecting it to please others and fill their needs- not my own.

Did you leave or stay?

I ended up staying. He’s my best friend and I know no matter what ends up happening, he’s an important person in my life. I love that he allows me to be so candid in my music, because what boyfriend will allow their girlfriend to make a song that’s “should I leave or stay?” He’s never complained about it, he’s supported me through the whole thing.

How’d you meet him?

He’s my videographer. [laughs] I know, don’t mix business and work with personal.

That’s so convenient! I’d be like, “take a picture of me!”

Right? Sometimes he’ll come up to me like “want to have a photoshoot?” Umm, okay! He cuts us out for our Youtube thumbnail, so he’s like “I know your hairline way too well.” [laughs]

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What have you learned about your sexualtiy during this time?

I felt like a tea kettle that’s burning on the stove. No one’s taking it off the stove, it’s burning and getting loud. I’m like “I can’t do this anymore.” At that time, it was me and my boyfriend. That’s when I realized holy fuck, I need to be honest with him. He didn’t know. I was in high school single as hell, didn’t have any interest in relationships which is weird because my two sisters were always dating. I was uncomfortable with any talk of that, I avoided it at all costs.

I was obsessed with Demi Lovato. I went to all her concerts, I had posters, but I didn’t want to date anyone. I did have a crush on Justin Beiber, which was cool. I felt a part of something because every girl wanted him. Justin Beiber’s the only male celebrity I’ve ever wanted. I don’t have a celebrity male crush, a lot of them are girls. What’s interesting is I wasn’t interested in my first boyfriend in high school whatsoever, I didn’t want a boyfriend. He literally gave me an ultimatum and said “if you want me to stay in your life, you have to date me.” I had no friends at the time, I was being bullied for my YouTube videos. I said “okay” because I had literally nobody else, he got me through that horrible senior year. I dated my first high school sweetheart.

Once we broke up, I was out and about. I’d go to the bar and hook up with girls. I met my boyfriend, saw him outside of work at the bar and we started getting drunk together. We’re both going through break ups. I didn’t want a relationship at all at that point. I was ready to experience the other side of me but I fell so hard in love with him. I didn’t get a chance to tell him, also didn’t want him to judge me. Such a touchy topic, a guy has to be hella confident to know they’re dating someone that likes both sexes. I realized during quarantine if I don’t say it now, I never will. Why would I plan a future with somebody who doesn’t know me 100%? I had to fucking say it. Saying it online was scary because my relatives all saw it.

How’d they take it?

My mom and dad never brought it up, but I hear things they say behind my back. My mom thought I was dating my best friend. She asked my sister, pulls her aside like “are they dating?” She said “she’s dating Nate mom!” She’s like “oh, you know Niki…” They don’t say anything to my face because I think they’re uncomfortable.

Are you still close with your sister?

Yeah, me and my twin sister are closer than ever now that we’re separating our careers. It’s like we’re married and our child is the channel, of course we’re going to fight.

What’s the premise behind The Trevor Project?

With everything I went through, I want to be able to bring awareness and raise money for that same exact situation. Depression and sexuality is so intermixed. I’d be really hard on myself for being depressed, and I never knew why I was depressed. It’s so crazy how there’s so many layers to you, you’re only at one level and there’s so many more layers to go to get some answers. A lot of people who are closeted or don’t know it yet, aren’t in a safe environment or don’t feel comfortable with themselves, their bodies, what they want, it’s really easy to not want to get out of bed and not try. You feel like, well why try if no one else is going to accept me for who I am? It’s so hard.

How does music help?

It’s so corny because every artist says this, but it pulls me out of dark shit. I’m very prone to depression, I’m Bipolar II so I have more depressive episodes than manic. When I’m down, whenever I start writing I go into a little manic. I can’t stop, I have to finish this song. I can write it in 5 minutes. I won’t let myself sleep, eat, nothing until I finish it because I’m that passionate. It distracts me and lets me dive into something else while expressing, it’s a healthy way to go through that stuff.

What can we look forward to next?

I know I’m 25, but this is the start. I didn’t know who I was. The early 20’s, what the fuck am I doing? I didn’t believe in myself, didn’t know all the layers to myself. I couldn’t be authentic. How could you be a successful artist before you know yourself? You have to be authentic. So much more music, I’m not stopping.

Are you independent?

Right now, yes. Obviously it’d be great to have a label backing behind the music. I’m really right now focusing on the music, the lyrics, the craft, really focusing on my audience because only good things will come from there. I don’t want to settle on anything or any deal. I don’t have an album planned, I’m really focusing on each single.

What are you most excited for with “Bite Of Me”?

I literally said at the end of the music video shoot to my director, “I’m going to need some kind of retreat to get my creative juices going because I don’t know how I’m going to top it.” It’s my best work, I’m so proud of it.

What are you dressing up as for Halloween?

I can’t spill, no one can be copying the looks. [laughs] I’m kidding. Me and my friends want to do Disney princesses. I’ve never done that so fuck it, I’m the little mermaid.

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