Nasimiyu Interview: By Brandon Jackson
Nasimiyu (na-sim-ee-yoo) is singer who has broken the rules of what a new artist should be. Her style which has been defined as the “Nola” sound is a mixture of Esperanza Spalding and Nina Simone. She is a singer, songwriter, and a performer who has allowed her passion for music and her love for writing poetry to define what she does well: Creating music for the world to hear and making people feel special by her heartfelt lyrics. Nasimiyu shared some of her thoughts with Illholiday.com about her growth as an artist and what music means to her.
iH: How have you evolved as an artist throughout the years in an industry that looks more at image than talent?
N: I don’t worry about what the industry wants. I follow artists that put music first. I feel lucky to be a part of a community that does the same.
iH: Can you explain the Nola sound and what the world should expect from a new artist such as yourself?
Nola has a lot of different sounds, but I think the one thing they all have in common is grit. That has definitely rubbed off on me in my time here.
iH: Who were your musical influences growing up?
N: When I was a little kid I was obsessed with classical music, theatrical soundtracks, and top-40 radio. I loved Beethoven, Singing in the Rain, and young Mariah Carey.
In my early teenage years, when I had started writing songs myself, I was all about Fiona Apple, film scores, and underground hip hop.
iH:iH: Can you talk about the process for creating your album “Rules Aren’t Real”? What should listeners expect from this album?
N: You can expect a very colorful palette of sounds, styles, and moods. The eclecticness of my personality has been allowed to shine through in every way on this album, with literally no limits.
The process of producing this album has been a huge undertaking. At times it seemed like it wouldn’t ever be brought to fruition due to lack of resources, funding, and support. It’s really been an uphill battle to bring this thing into the world, but the music and the messages are so deeply important to me. I had no choice but to fight it out to the finish. I put everything on the table to make it happen.
I really have to thank the engineer Ben Lorio for saving this project when it looked like all hope was lost. He took on the project based on what seemed like sheer faith alone, and he helped make it the incredible album that it is.
iH: JuJu Association has done a lot as far as helping you launch your career. Can you talk about how you started working with them and what their vision is as an organization (Are they a label or just a company)?
N:JuJu Association was the first group of people to ever take a chance on me as a new artist. I believe in what they do because they are the only music media resource in New Orleans that actually has their ear to the street rather than in the press. JuJu isn’t a label, more so just a group of writers, musicians, filmmakers, and photographers, do-ers working to build a grassroots artist’s community and make cool things happen.
I started working with them after they came to one of my live shows. They were interested in my work, and wanted to shoot a take-away video with me, and that’s how our working relationship took off. It’s been growing ever since, and now JuJu is responsible for my management, as well. I couldn’t have asked for a better team. I wouldn’t be here without them.
iH: I had the pleasure of interviewing Stokley from Mint Condition last year. He talked about the Minneapolis sound and how it influenced a number of artists past, present, and future. What are your thoughts on playing there this month knowing that there is such a rich history there?
N: I actually grew up in the Twin Cities so it’s really exciting for me to be able to bring my sound back home to its roots, where it all began. I love how open-minded and art-oriented people are in Minneapolis. I’m really excited to find out what the response to my music will be like.
iH: What other projects are you working on this year?
N: I’m in an Indie band called Saint Bell, in which I sing back-up vocals and play drums. I’m currently producing that band’s EP.
In addition to that, I have been working on collaboration between an emcee, a guitarist/producer, and myself under the collective identity of The Almighty Open Mind. I’ve also been recording some stuff with Colorado-based producer, Paper Diamond, which has been a ton of fun! In my other time, I run a performing arts program for people with disabilities and we are producing a musical that I wrote based on their lives and experiences. All of these projects enrich me in completely different and amazing ways. I am super grateful to be able to spend all the hours of my day being creative.
You can learn more about Nasimiyu at http://www.nasimiyu.com/bio/.