Previously performing as half of the experimental r&b duo Tidelines, Niomí has taken a path of her own with her debut EP ‘Susurrus.’
At the core of this forest of songs is a reflection on heartbreak, mental health, loss and finding a light at the end of the tunnel. “I heard the word on a radio show one day, described as ‘the sound of the wind moving in the trees’, ” she explains.
I thought it was so beautiful to have a word for such a subtle and tiny thing and I related to that concept. Susurrus is about finding my sound. My voice is quiet and soft, as are parts of my personality. I can struggle with that and often feel I need to be bigger, louder or brighter. The word reminded me that there’s beauty in the small, quiet things. ‘Susurrus’ perfectly sums up where I am right now personally and musically.”
Tell us about the genesis of your project. How did you get to where you are now?
The songs on the EP are a real mix of old and new. Some I wrote recently like ‘Snow’ but ‘Advantage’ is almost 10 years old. I wanted to release a collection of works after my singles and I recorded them all over 6 days in the studio last February. When the pandemic hit, I paused working on the production for a while so coming back to them a few months later gave me a slightly different perspective which I feel makes the project really special as I’ve been threading it together slowly over a long period of my life with lots of changes.
How would you describe the highs and lows of being an artist?
The unpredictability of being an artist can be quite scary and lonely at times. Often when you are creating, it’s in private and it can feel a bit pointless. However, getting positive responses to your work when it’s out there makes it worth it. I keep screenshots of messages I’ve had from people about my work to remind me to keep going.
Who are your all time musical icons?
Growing up I was obsessed with the piano and I loved Alicia Keys and Nina Simone. Watching them play and sing really inspired me to write my own songs to start singing.
What are some things to do to keep your inspiration alive?
I love reading and find books really help me keep inspired and in touch with other people’s stories as well as my own. New music helps too: when I hear something new I love I can’t help but be inspired in my own work.
Who is an artist that you look up to more than others today?
Solange is an artist I really admire. I love how her music is so free and how she isn’t afraid to experiment in what she is creating. Her visuals are also stunning and so unique, which I’ve been personally very inspired by. I was lucky enough to see her perform live a few years ago too and it was my favourite live show ever!
Favorite activity to blow off some steam?
Going out for coffee and cake is one of my favourite things to do and helps me unwind. Or cooking helps me take my mind of things. Basically anything food based!
Tell us about your latest release Susurrus and how it came about.
I heard the word on a radio show one day, described as ‘the sound of the wind moving in the trees’. I thought it was so beautiful to have a word for such a subtle and tiny thing and I related to that concept. Susurrus is about finding my sound. My voice is quiet and soft, as are parts of my personality. I can struggle with that and often feel I need to be bigger, louder or brighter. The word reminded me that there’s beauty in the small, quiet things. I also like to use organic sounds and samples in my music so this word felt really fitting to name the work.
What are some things you do to deal with anxiety and creative blocks?
I really struggle with this and wouldn’t say that I have found a way to totally deal with it! One thing I am learning to do more of is prioritizing resting and being self-compassionate. I can be a perfectionist and beat myself up over feeling like I’m not doing enough which then becomes a vicious cycle.
What’s the future looking like for you?
I have another project in the works at the moment that I’m excited to be sharing this year and I plan to spend the summer writing. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to play some proper live shows too!
Who inspires your style and aesthetics?
As I mentioned before, I’m a huge fan of Solange’s whole aesthetic. I also love Kelsey Lu’s beautiful music videos and I love fellow South Asians Joy Crookes’ and Monikh Dale’s sense of style.
What is the achievement or moment in your career you are the most proud of and why?
I’m still really proud of my first single, Sugar. It was the first time I’d produced my own work and felt like it was a true reflection of me which I’ve been building on ever since.
What do you think is the best way to make it as an artist nowadays?
I think ultimately being authentic and true to yourself and your work is the most important thing. It can be so easy to get caught up in what other people will want to hear or see or what you should be doing to ‘make it’ but you can’t sustain yourself creatively that way. You need to listen to who you are and do what works for you.
What would you change in the music and entertainment industry especially after this past year? I’d love to see more opportunities and support for independent artists. There was a lot of amazing support from PRS, Help Musicians and other British organisations for artists and musicians whose work was affected by the pandemic which was great but I’d love to see our government support and fund the arts further so that more people can have the opportunity to go into a career like this.