*We caught up with global artist, singer-songwriter, NAIKA to dish about her new single “H20,” which marks her follow up to the successful 2021 EP “Lost In Paradise Pt. 2,” and comes on the heels of her hit single “Sauce.”
“Sauce” was featured in the 2021 global Apple iPhone campaign and premiered during the 2021 Grammy Awards. The track also ran throughout the NCAA March Madness season.
Per press release, Naïka has earned international acclaim and attention for her distinctive fusion of sounds, a sonic approach she describes simply as “world-pop.” With over 40 million+ streams across Spotify and Apple Music, the Miami-born singer-songwriter has carved out a new lane in the pop genre.
Absorbing inspiration from her French and Haitian heritage, as well as her family’s wide-ranging travels around the globe, from Guadeloupe to Kenya, South Africa to Vanuatu and beyond, the influence of African, European, and Caribbean cultures has shaped her both as an artist and as a citizen of the world.
Check out our conversation with the artist below, and watch her “H2O” music video via the YouTube clip above.
Tell us about the inspiration behind this new single, H2O.
NAIKA: So the inspiration kind of came from… I have this mouth trumpet that I do and I just riffed a melody on it. And then me and the producer, Brian, we kind of built the track around the mouth trumpet idea that I had put down. And then from there it kind of came organically. The essence of the song, the lyrics, it felt very sexy. It felt fresh and light. So it just came about very quickly. And I would say we did it in three hours and the song was pretty much there and it all started from the sample that I did with my mouth trumpet sound.
What does this song mean for you personally, is there an overall message?
I definitely feel like my sound is evolving with time and it’s feels more confident for me. It’s a sexy song. It’s feels for me, I’m tapping into my divine feminine energy and… Yeah, just as a woman growing and blooming into my womanhood, it felt like just exciting for me to kind of go in that direction for this song.
For my readers who will learn about you for the first time with this interview, how would you describe your sound?
I describe my sound as world pop. I grew up being what you call a TCK, which sends for a third culture kid, which means I grew up away from my parents’ cultures and away from where I was born on my passport. I grew up moving every four years for my dad’s job. So I spent time growing up in Africa for seven years, in France, in the Caribbean, in the South Pacific.
So for me, my music is the reason I call it world pop is it encompasses all of the cultures that have made me who I am and shaped me. My mom is also from the Caribbean and my dad is from his own island. My dad is from an island called Madagascar on the coast of Africa. So my sound is encompassing all of the different cultures that make me who I am. I’ll sing in French and in Haitian Creole. It’s kind of blending my love for pop music that I found out in early age through Destiny’s Child, Britney Spears, Usher, Beyoncé. So it’s kind of a fusion of my love for pop and my roots.
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The American artists that have influenced you, what is it about their style and presentation that has fueled your passion for music?
I always just was fascinated by just the showbiz and the entertainment level of production that the entertainment industry had has in America and just the craftsmanship and the showmanship of it, and the level of it. For me, Britney Spears was, I think one of the first pop artists, that when I saw her, what she was doing, how she was dancing on stage with her backup dancers, with the outfits and the music, all of it. I just felt… I just knew that’s what I wanted to do from that very young age. And for me, music has always been my obsession ever since I was a baby. My mom says when I got out of the hospital after I was born, that was the first time they saw me smile was when they put the radio on. I’ve always had a very intense relationship with music. And I’ve always known it was what I wanted to do, but I think with American art, it was just the level of production and the quality of the art and the craftsmanship.
You come from cultures that have rich histories as far as social and economic strife, how much of that do you put in your music? Do you add any social, or political issues that have shaped and influenced your culture in your sound?
For sure. Well, one of my songs is called “African Sun” that I dropped in the first part of my EP and I named it “African Sun” as an homage to the motherland, but the lyric, off the hook is in Haitian Creole, I had written that song at the time, I think in 2018, there was a lot of riots in Haiti and political uproar. And the lyrics of that hook are saying, “I can’t let go. I can’t let go. I have to hold on. And I have to keep on persevering.” So I had written that when I was feeling… I’m a Pisces, I’m very sensitive, and my way of… My outlet of expressing all of my emotions and what’s going on in the world and my way of processing it is through my music.
Sometimes I release it. Sometimes I don’t, with “African Sun.” I did. I also had done when I had seen the war going on in Syria, back in 2016, there was a bombing in Aleppo. And I saw this photo of this child that had just lost his whole family and his home. I wrote this song called “Before He Falls” about that. Sometimes the songs will see the light of day. And if I find that it translates my emotions well. And if I think it’ll translate well to the audience, I’ll release them. But, yeah, music is definitely an outlet for me to express those situations as well.
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How would you describe your songwriting process? Do you need to be bitten by the inspiration bug or get in a certain mood before you can take pen to paper?
I would say I’m always receiving creativity, wherever I’ll be driving and see a sign and then think, “Oh, I can write this down.” I have a list on my notes of lyrics, concepts, just sayings that I’ll put down.
Then the writing process is different depending on the environment. If I’m at the studio, if I’m pulling up at the studio, I’m with the producer, usually, I’ll listen to beats and freestyle over them and then go from there. If it is a situation or a topic that I want to like hone in on, then usually it’ll start with the lyrics.
I usually prefer writing those songs, at least starting them on my own. I’m a big fan of collaborating. I love being in the studio with different writers and producers because I just love… I think it brings a song to a different place than if I were to write it on my own, but when it’s more sensitive topics, I’ll usually start the seed or even start and finish it on my own. And it’ll be more lyrically driven like for “Before He Falls,” for example, that was all lyrics first. But if I’m at the studio, usually I’ll start with a beat or a piano, then just start free styling, and then the lyrics will come after.
In 2020 you did a viral cover of “Don’t Rush.” It amassed over 13 million views and caught the attention of Jason Derulo and other big stars. How would you say social media has impacted your career so far?
It’s been hugely beneficial, especially with TikTok and the opportunities that the platform presents, it’s like everybody can see what you’re doing. So you really have a bigger level of playing field. I think I would say that I’m still developing my relationship with social media. I’m so grateful for the platform. And especially TikTok has been an opportunity to present myself and tell people my story and just kind of introduce myself and have people that would’ve never seen me have access. It’s still, I would say, a work in progress in terms of putting myself out there. But I love that, especially as an independent artist, I can kind of navigate and promote my brands and introduce my brand and who I am in my own way to my audience and to my fans. But it’s definitely a relationship that I’m still developing, I would say.
Your new single H2O, is this song part of a larger album or EP that you have coming up?
I’m still going back and forth between the singles and the EP, but yeah, it is part of a collection of songs that I’m dropping in the summertime.
Any plans to tour here in the States?
We’re working on it. I’ll have some news for the people around in a couple of months, I’ll be posting about it.
Here’s a two-part question: who would you most like to collaborate with, and if you could open a show for any artist, who would it be?
Okay. So obviously there’s a wide list of people I would want to collaborate with, but I would say my top one, and it would be the same answer for opening (act question). There’s a Francophone artist, called Stromae, who is a very big inspiration for me, and an artist that I look up to a lot. His name is spelled like Maestro, but backwards. He’s a big artist that has gained international claim through his art. And he’s incredible. So I would say opening for him and collaborating with him, but also like, I mean, Tems is one that I was thinking recently that I would love to collaborate with or Burna Boy or Beyoncé. Beyoncé is a huge, one of my biggest inspirations and favorite artists.
Lastly, what is next for you? Any other projects you’re cooking up that we should keep a look out for?
I definitely want to encourage people to watch, to listen, to stream to H2O and watch the music video. I’m really proud of the music video. It’s something that me and my good friend Ladi, we put together the two of us and as an independent artist, I’m very proud of like the hustle that we put into that and to the song and… Yeah, just follow me on social media and stay tuned for new, exciting announcements and news coming up in the next couple of weeks and months, my Instagram is naikamusic and N-A-I-K-A music and you can find me under that name on YouTube, on Twitter and Facebook and all of them as well. And on TikTok of course.