Every now and then, you run across an artist whose sound is so unique and authentic that you feel compelled to share your new discovery with complete strangers. For the past week and half, the ambient, atmospheric, and soothing sounds of Nikko Gray have had me convinced that every stereo, ipod, or mp3 player should be playing her music immediately! With production by Nevin Thomas and the ridiculously talented Afta-1, her latest album Love Seen is a collection of 8 songs that are nothing short of a sensual, cutting-edge masterpiece.
Nikko Gray is certainly not a stranger to music. The London-born, Los Angeles-based songstress has been making moves in the underground music circuit for some time now. In 2009, her beautiful and creative rendition of Aaliyah’s “4 Page Letter” for the SoulCulture Presents: Aaliyah Revisited EP grabbed the attention of music lovers all over the world. Her new album Love Seen is rich in that same creativity, seductiveness, and soul that made Nikko Gray stand out and become noticed in the first place.
With inspirational anthems like “Angel > Demons” and sexy ballads like “Rollercoaster” and “Eyelash Wishes”, Nikko’s sound adds a futuristic, but soulful feel to R&B music. Her voice is fresh and beautiful, adding substance to every track on the album. Her song “Nail Polish” is proof that a true talent can make a dope and meaningful song out of any subject in the book! All the songs on the album were written and arranged by Nikko Gray. Each song on Love Seen was produced by Nevin Thomas. “Angel >Demons,” co-produced by AFTA-1, was featured on the “Seasons Within” promo video for Gas’d. Check it out!
Intrigued by what we’ve heard, M.I.S.S. wanted to to dig deeper and get to know more about Nikko Gray. Check out the Q&A below that she was kind enough to share with us.
M.I.S.S.: Full name?
Nikko Alexandria Gray
This one’s always difficult to answer. I was born in London. We lived there until I was 7. Then we moved to Holland. Back to England when I was 10 and then to Philadelphia when I was about 13. Next up was Cali where we moved when I was about 15. I’ve been here ever since
M.I.S.S.: Zodiac sign?
Typical Capricorn with Gemini Rising and Scorpio Moon.
M.I.S.S.: When did you start singing?
My mom is a singer so I grew up around music and we’d make up little songs together all the time. I was around it so much I feel like I’ve always been singing. I think when I was about 7 I fell in love with Mariah Carey’s music and it was a wrap for me. I just remember singing in my room non stop for years after that.
M.I.S.S.: How would you personally describe your sound?
Personally, I like to leave it open for others to decide. It’s mellow. It’s real. It’s me. I know its difficult to get to know what kind of music I do based on those answers, but I can’t find a box or a description for it. So I’ve stopped trying. I like it. I can only hope you do to!
M.I.S.S.: A lot of people first became familiar with you through your feature on Aaliyah Revisited last summer with “ESP (4 Page Suite”) How has Aaliyah inspired you through your own personal music journey?
As an artist she was such a dope mixture of styles, not to mention her style of dress. I love that she had such a great mix of masculine and feminine. Girls and Guys love her the same way to this day. And the combination of her soft vocals on Timbaland’s beats was wonderous! There was no box for that style at that time. She was great!
M.I.S.S.: How did your collaboration with Afta-1 come about?
I met AFTA-1 through Imani Waddy, the owner of GAS-D a little over a year ago. A few months after we’d met he asked me if I’d like to sing on this Aaliyah tribute track he was doing for Soulculture. So we went in and knocked the track out last minute. He did all the vocal arrangements and I just kinda went along with the vibe. I think it came out alright.
M.I.S.S.: Why did you choose to name the album Love Seen?
The title “LOVE SEEN” was a last minute choice that I’m very pleased with. During the recording process I’d been writing “Memoirs Of a Muse” as the title on my notes but it ended up sounding incredibly corny to me the more I said and read it. “LOVE SCENE” is one of the last songs on the album and I felt it best described the story like theme in the songs. Changing the way the word is spelled put the finishing touches on the blanket of what these songs meant to me.
Its about a moment in time that I was a part of and that I allowed myself to experience and dramatize the whole thing into words. Its like a love scene that can be seen however the listener chooses to see it.
M.I.S.S.: A lot of the songs feel extremely personal and honest. Did you worry at all about giving away too much of yourself?
Yeah but fuck it. I understand myself better when I write. And the more I use the creative process to actually process things that are going on, the more comfortable I feel about it being what it is. Which is a process.
M.I.S.S.: What do you want people to know about Nikko Gray that they probably don’t know?
I do all my own Nail Art and went to Nail School for a quick second. I get all into it and then try to go about my day with wet nails. At the end of my day they’re chipped or smudged. But its cool.
Take a listen to the track “Love Shield”
Support good music and purchase the album Love Seen on Nikko Gray’s Band Camp Site!
Images by: SB
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