Today, we sat down with musician Nia CC to talk music inspiration, advice for young musicians and much more! Be sure to check out her latest track on Youtube below after the interview!
Here is the interview:
What is your inspiration to write your music? Is it your surroundings?
I always say that my songs are my diary. While some people get their feelings out through journal entries or venting to their friends, one of the main ways I debrief is through songwriting. Now this isn’t to say I only turn to songwriting when I’m angry or upset, but to say that songwriting is my way of telling the stories that are close to me and on my mind out, whether they be fiction or not. Outside of songwriting and singing, one of my favorite things to do is read. I was that kid who would sneak and stay up into the late hours of the night because I didn’t want to put down my book. I would be so invested in the story, and refer to the characters as my friends, as if I was experiencing the story too. So it’s not uncommon for me to write songs based on these emotions that may belong to fictional characters, but that I also feel deeply, especially when I was younger. I’ll never forget writing “Forget” when I was 13 years old, also the first song I ever recorded and filmed a music video for. After playing it a few times downstairs, my mom ran down and yelled “did you write that song?!” And when I told her yes, she asked me to play it again. After playing it and a beat of silence she said “who are you writing songs about and missing so intensely? You’re 13!” and I laughed told her, “No one, but I read about it in a book.” I think it was my love for books and movies and art that pushed me to want to write my own stories too. Create my own characters in a song. Make a new world for everyone to enjoy and listen too. In this way, I guess you could say that I’m not only inspired by the events happening in my real life, but also by the stories I get to be the author of.
What type of music did you listen to growing up?
I grew up the youngest of 3 and really close to my siblings: my sister Kiara who is 10 years older and my brother Sanford who is 8 years older. Both of them love music and I thought they were the coolest people in the world, so I listened to a lot of what they listened to growing up: Ciara, Usher, Alicia Keys, TLC and so many more. I’ve also been a pretty big Taylor Swift fan since I was about 7 years old, so she really had influence on my journey as an artists and a songwriter. She was someone who inspired me to not just play the piano, but to pick up the guitar too. That said, growing up in Northern Virginia I listened to a mix of music from Imagine Dragons, one of my favorite bands, to Drake, to Carrie Underwood, to Ed Sheeran, to Corinne Bailey. For a while, I even struggled with a bit of a genre crises because every song I wrote was so different. Was I a country artists? An R&B artist? Did I want to get into Rock? Maybe pop music? It was something I was so insecure about for awhile until I ultimately decided to see my diversity in sound as a strength, and find the through line in the stories I tell with my music and who I am as an artist.
Is there someone you looked up as a hero?
This question is always difficult because there are so many people who have served as heroes to me. I guess when it comes down it though, I always say my family of 5. I look up to all of them for different reasons. My mom is a doctor and the daughter of two Haitian immigrants, and she had both my sister and brother in undergrad while her and my dad were both at Cornell University. Nobody thought she’d be able to finish undergrad with two kids, let alone go to a top medical school. She’s someone who taught me perseverance and the importance of following your dreams, even when the world is rooting against you. My dad is my biggest supporter. Despite being a lawyer, he’s always found a way to come to EVERY game I play in and show I perform, no matter the time or distance. He’s taught me the true meaning of love and commitment. My brother was the first one to teach me how to play piano and sing at the same time. Even though he’s a doctor himself now, he continues to find time to push me and encourage me artistically. He’s taught me the importance of having balance in life and confidently trying new things. Lastly, my sister is the definition of a girl boss. A lawyer, an author, a model and so much more. She’s taught me how to not place limitations on myself and reach for all the things I want in life, no matter how far they may seem. Together, they are all my heros and I couldn’t be more grateful for them.
If you weren’t a musician, would you be doing today?
I come from an extremely musical family. I’m the youngest in a family of 5. My mom sings, my brother sings, my sister sings, and my dad is our biggest supporter, so pretty much came out the womb musical. My siblings are 8 years and 10 years older than me, so I grew up going to all of their concerts and recitals, and it doesn’t just stop at my direct family. My mom comes from a very musical family. She’s always singing with her two sisters, one of whom, Jeannette Bayardelle, is an acclaimed Broadway actress currently starring in “Girl from the North Country.” Going to family events and watching everyone sing and perform was something I’ve been doing since before I remembered, and it was always something I wanted to take part in too. In fact, it was my sister and brother who convinced my parents to not let me quit piano when I was having doubts about it in middle school. That said, my family is just as athletic as we are musical. I love sports. I watch a lot of college and professional sports from football and basketball, to baseball and lacrosse. I grew up playing basketball, lacrosse and running track. Of course I’m always rooting for the University of Virginia, my alma mater, athletic programs, and for the Lakers and the Yankees. If you follow me on Twitter you know if I’m not tweeting about music, I’m live tweeting sports games. So if I wasn’t doing music today, I guarantee you I’d be working the sports industry. Always looking for a way to get free tickets.
What advice do you have for our fans out there that want to create music?
Music is subjective, so do what you love. It’s so easy to get caught up in trying to please other people, but ultimately, music isn’t an objective thing, and that’s what makes it so special. There’s not only one right answer, there’s a million different answers for each person, and a million different wrong answer for each person, and that’s okay! Now that doesn’t mean don’t take critiques from anyone, but to say you can’t make everybody happy. So as you work with others and people begin to offer their opinions, don’t forget that it’s not just about them, it’s about refining and creating the music that you love.