Nikkole is back with a new sound on her latest record, Hallucinations. The first two singles, Gonna Get it Right and Zero have set fire to the Billboard Dance/Club Charts and her album has received acclaim from critics across the board. 2014 has been a massive breakthrough year for this talented diva and her star continues to climb with each release. Nikkole took some time out of her busy schedule this past week to talk to IshTalk about the new album, her dedicated "Nikkoldiers" and secrets on always looking flawless. Listen to the full interview in this Friday's IshTalk podcast.
This past summer, "Gonna Get it Right" peaked at number 20 on the Billboard Dance/Club charts. How amazing did that feel?
N: That was simply amazing. As a child, I always followed the charts, so when I would see my favourite artists charting, I was always so excited for them. And then to finally have that happen for me with my own music was a dream come true! And to be on the charts with so many other artists that I admire was incredible.
You were in great company! You're obviously so passionate about what you do. So what does your music mean to you?
N: My music is everything to me. I mean, I eat, live, drink, sleep music. That's everything that I've always wanted to do. I grew up as a young child singing in church and putting on concerts with my brother and cousins. It's just always been my life. It's always been the driving force within me. I don't do this for money or fame. I do it because I love it... and it's my life.
And that's how you have do feel about everything, right?
N: I agree - it's all about the passion.
So who inspires you as an artist?
N: There are so many great artists out there. But as a young kid, I grew up listening to various genres of music that my mom and dad loved. You know, rock and roll, country, R&B. So I always loved the greats like Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.
To bring it forward, I'm influenced by artists that aren't afraid to push the envelope and to be themselves. I enjoy Beyonce a lot. I love her style and her work ethic - I like the fact that she goes in full-force and she's about changing things and not being that artist that does the same thing over and over again. I also enjoy Justin Timberlake, Fergie's new project and Mary J. Blige's new record, which is amazing. I love what she's done. I love that she's working with Sam Smith. It's just incredible. I love artists that keep it real and inspire me to push my own sound forward.
Which you've done on your new record - it's definitely more pop than your past records. Do you have a favourite track from the new album?
N: That's so hard! I love everything. Right now, I'm really vibing on My Beautiful Man. Lyrically and what it stands for... about being in a relationship with someone and being able to be yourself completely with someone who loves you for who you are and they aren't expecting anything from you except being yourself. It's one of those tracks that I think is timeless.
After looking at the comments on your social media pages, you have some extremely dedicated fans. That has to be pretty incredible!
N: It's so exciting! I like to interact with my fans personally and get to know them. They've dubbed themselves "Nikkoldiers." I love the idea that people love your music and what you stand for and they will ride with you throughout your changes and evolutions as an artist. Like you said earlier, I have changed my sound and my style of music. As an artist, you have to keep it fresh and you have to be true to what you're feeling. My fans have really been with me from day one. With Hallucinations, I've gained a brand new audience of people who are loving the new sound. And they're going back to my previous albums I've released. It's just incredible.
What has the overall response been to the new album, Hallucinations?
N: Fans love it! They like the change and the idea that I went more pop than I have on previous releases, which were more R&B influenced. It seems that the audience is broader. They like the idea that the songs are catchy and easy to sing along for. I've been performing in a lot of big gay clubs and I've got to tell you, that is the most fun for me! I mean, people are so excited and everybody is there to have a good time. It's so incredible and I've found that a lot of people have said that they can relate to me as a person.
And there really is no higher compliment when somebody compliments how relatable you are.
Very much so. That makes it all worth it. Forget about awards, which are awesome. What greater gift is there than compliments like that from fans!?
You also just released new remixes for Zero, which are so fierce! I especially love the Moto Blanco and Crazibiza remixes which give the track two completely fresh takes.
I wanted to get a sound that everyone would enjoy no matter what kind of dance music you enjoy. People relate to all of them which is so exciting. And to have these amazing DJs work with me - they're all so talented! And for them to show what their take is on my original song is... it's phenomenal.
Now, along with the mixes, you also released a hot new video for Zero. How involved are you in the creative direction of your music videos?
N: This is my second video with director Ethan Lader. He and I have sort of a sense of camaraderie with one another in that he knows that I like and we aren't afraid to tell one another what we don't like. I wanted this piece to be cinematic and have an editorial vibe. We wanted this to be an honour to the work of Herb Ritts and what he was doing in the early 90's. You know, with Janet, Toni Braxton, Mariah Carey and a lot of those great artists because Hallucinations has a real throwback vibe to that time frame. We wanted something that was really classic and would stand the test of time. I'm involved heavily in the creative process whether it be visual or with the music.
Now this last question is a little off-topic, but you always look absolutely stunning. What beauty secrets can you share?
N: I was told a long time ago by my grandmother that you should always get plenty of rest. I haven't been following that lately, but the more rest you get the better. The one beauty secret I have been following is that you have to drink a lot of water. And you have to do a lot of cardio to sweat out those impurities. I think that's important and try to keep it as clean as possible. You don't want to drink or smoke if you don't have to. But most importantly, make sure to get that rest in if possible!