Artist Spotlight: Nikki Pope and her Powerhouse Poise
You haven't heard a voice quite like Nikki Pope's -- the British singer-songwriter is a powerhouse. Lucky for you, we've got the scoop about her unwavering talent.
Born in Britain but in love with everywhere, Nikki has shared her talents with the U.S. and the UK for years, a troubadour of soul. She's currently working on her third EP -- releasing this summer! -- but we're still gushing about her first two. Just a few years ago, Nikki released her debut EP, Electric Energy, which gained major praise and international buzz. Just three tracks, Electric Energy is jam-packed with high-powered zest and flavored with soul.
"London / New York" marks the start of the EP, a bittersweet doo-wop tune that finds Nikki at war with London love and NYC newness. It's our very first introduction to the talent Nikki Pope boasts, but it's not quiet or modest: it's in-your-face, it's here-I-am. Her voice is a powerhouse, flawless in its execution and impressive in its range. Later, "Blue Lagoon" mimics the vocal prowess we were treated to with the EP's first track. Here, she starts soft and soulful over a light piano rhythm before a guitar strum comes in followed by a burst of percussion as her desperate howls soar.
Last year, Nikki released her sophomore EP, Karma Deja Vu, another three-track record with an extra acoustic tune this time. In the same vein as her previous record, Nikki kicks off Karma Deja Vu with its best track, "Champagne Taste." This is the song that convinced us Nikki couldn't possibly be real; the echoing pop harmony, the layers of rollicking percussion, those pipes. Later, we get the acoustic version where the introductory vocal warbles are dulled over a powerful guitar line, though somehow Nikki's vocals are just as forceful and robust as always. On "Mantra," things get slow and sincere as she delivers an emotional swan song to a past lover, singing "If you ever need me, I've moved on without ya." The softer moments here -- where she pulls her voice down from its heavenly height -- are gorgeously raw and real.
Though she only has a couple tracks out, we are impatiently awaiting what she has for us next. With relentlessly dynamic pop-rock arrangements and her unrivaled voice, Nikki Pope is a superstar and she's not dimming her light any time soon.
The Music Mermaid: First, can you tell The Music Mermaid a little about yourself and your music?
Nikki Pope: Sure! I am a British born singer-songwriter from Leicestershire. I moved to London at 16, LA at 18, and then New York City at 21 where I lived for 7 years. When I released my first EP Electric Energy in May of 2016, which I co-wrote with my amazing music producer Austin Bello, it caught international attention which led to a really exciting platform with BBC Music Introducing in the UK and Sirius XM in the USA.
I decided to take some time back in the UK, so I moved to Cardiff, Wales in April 2017 to follow some new and exciting paths. I've been doing some live performances for the past year all over the UK with a run in Europe also -- it's been non-stop since I got back to Britain.
My music is predominantly pop but I'm influenced by many different genres so you'll hear a mixture in there. I have two EPs available on all online music stores with a third set for release in a few months!
TMM: You’re from the UK but you recently spent a couple years in NYC. How do the music scenes differ in each place you’ve lived and how have they influenced your work at all?
NP: Well yes, everywhere is different -- some places are better than others but what sticks with every music scene is the fact that a "scene" for music exists because there are people in there that love music! So that is what every music scene has in common: music lovers!
If you can find like-minded, driven, and talented people in your chosen city, then that's amazing. To have venues that predominantly support musicians in pursuing their goals, dreams, and ambitions... the more the better. I'm excited and proud to say that Cardiff was just announced as the UK's first "music city" meaning it has and will have a vital role in encouraging music to the city of Cardiff. Its scene will be protected and its international profile will be boosted!
Living and working as a musician in New York was much easier though, in general. Culture of all dynamics exist at the tip of your fingertips in New York. If you need a drummer or a bass player or something then you don't need to look very far! It's much easier to make things happen but that all depends on your work ethic at the end of the day.
TMM: You’ve released a couple EPs and you’re working on some new music. What is the production process like for your work?
NP: Fast. I'm quite impatient so teaming up with my producer Austin Bello has been fantastic for me. Not only have I learnt a lot from him in regards to building songs from scratch but he also gives me the confidence to speak my thoughts and helps me to put them in the context of the song itself.
I tend to write a lot about past experiences and [about] me as a person so we build from the subject upwards. All three EPs (the third coming this summer) were done in three weeks, one per week over the course of about six months probably. I would travel from New York to Virginia and we would spend the first day building the track and writing the lyrics. The second day would be about recording it and adding in the backing vocals before moving onto the next track on the third day and so on.
I think having done such a fast process right at the beginning has really set me up well because when we're granted more time in a studio, we benefit more. If we can accomplish the music we have in the short time we have done it in, then more time would only mean even better results. I've still got bucket-loads to learn but I couldn't be happier and I'm so thankful for the experiences I have had so far in making my own music. I can't wait to get back in the studio to do more!
TMM: How has your music evolved since your debut EP, Electric Energy, back in 2016?
NP: I have a lot more to talk about now. I've learned a hell of a lot and my life experiences are much different now having moved on from the last two EPs and what they meant to me at the time. I was in a raw place writing those and so this next EP has a little more edginess to it, a bit more pop-punk, maybe? I'm pulling from new aspects but keeping in mind my past with a song I wrote about leaving home to follow my dreams called "Home Of My Own" that I'm hoping people who have been in my position will relate to. It will be on the next EP -- it's very vulnerable and totally different than the other two tracks -- it took us a few times to record it from crying throughout it! All three songs on this next EP are totally different so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it works!
TMM: Which of your songs do you feel closest to and why?
NP: Mmm that's a really interesting question. I feel most protective of "Fire & Ice" because I wrote that [when I was at] a very raw place in my life. The message is very plain and simple, to the point.
I feel closest to "London / New York," though, because it was written when I met my fiancé and that was such a beautiful time in my life but would ultimately lead me into feeling torn between the UK where he lived and the USA where I lived. We were long distance for the first year and a half of our relationship because we met when he was on holiday in New York -- I was lucky, though, that I was able to move back to the UK under musical circumstances.
TMM: Who are your biggest inspirations, both musically and personally?
NP: Musically I am drawn -- for different reasons -- to Fleetwood Mac, Amy Winehouse, Gin Wigmore, and Etta James. Most recently I've felt pretty connected and influenced by Dua Lipa also.
Personally my biggest inspirations are my family and friends. As cliche as it sounds, I wouldn't be who I am today without the everyday influences of everyone in my life -- all of the men and women in my life are strong, dependable, trustworthy, and supportive. Those that haven't been so much in my past aren't in my life for long -- I try to eliminate as many negative attitudes as I possibly have control of in my life. I tend to keep my circles small.
TMM: What has been your most memorable musical moment so far?
NP: Ahhh! I have three -- can I do three? Is that breaking the rules?! -laughs-
Performing my live session with BBC Introducing. Performing my live session with Sirius XM in New York (then meeting Michael Buble after). Performing for my hometown in front of 20,000 people at the Leicester Christmas Light Switch On.
The Music Mermaid: Finally, what’s next for Nikki Pope?
Nikki Pope: Stay tuned!!! I'm not allowed to say yet! In general though, I'm planning my first UK tour in 2019 which I'm so excited about!