Q&A With Niqa Mor
The Long Island native, Niqa Mor, is making strides to create a sense of longevity with her sound. Fusing together elements of trap into traditional R&B, Niqa creates a gritty, hybrid sound that is unmatched. The rising songstress released her EP, Thursday Night, last year, truly displaying her songwriting skills and ability to produce high quality music that could be compared to the ‘greats.’
Her recent single “Damage” delves into her Jamaican and West Indian roots, creating an atmosphere of endless summer vibes. We sat down with the singer herself to discuss her goals, inspirations, new music, and the ups and down of being an independent artist.
I think it was just me taking like a step out of my comfort zone—that’s kinda been the theme of this year for me. It was just something that I was like: you know what? Let’s just try something that’s more fun,
Let’s start with your newest work, ‘Damage,’ what was the process behind making that song?
NM: So that song honestly was the most random because I usually don’t do songs in that genre. I think it was just me taking like a step out of my comfort zone—that’s kinda been the theme of this year for me. It was just something that I was like: you know what? Let’s just try something that’s more fun, because I’m so used to making songs about relationships to personal experiences and I also wanted something that was kind of going to match the vibe of the summer which—New York culture is going to brunch, going out partying, dancing, having have with your friends, warm weather, being confident in yourself—I think that was definitely a part of the process. The song was written in like half an hour, like 15 minutes, it was like a quick thing and then we just jumped in the booth and cut it, and then we’re like “we gotta drop it, we gotta drop it!” and honestly, it’s been my biggest song thus far. I like that it makes people feel good and makes people have fun.
Your EP, Thursday, came out last year—how would you say your sound changed from that to what you are working on now?
NM: I think you’re gonna hear a change in my perspective and growth as a person when you listen to the new music that’s coming out. Thursday is a project that I think is still dope till this day and I definitely would like to push it to have more people hear it. But, what you’re going to hear from the difference is—my perspective changed as a person. Before I was living in a fantasy and everything was kind of like what I wanted it to be and not what it was. Now I see things for what they are, and you’re gonna hear that growth and my mindset, the topics I’m gonna talk about now—I’m just growing as a person and I realized like everything isn’t just about a relationship or one experience, it’s so much more to life and I think music needs a person who’s going to expand on those topics.
Where do you draw inspiration from for the music you’re creating now?
NM: I think I have a way of romanticizing life and I definitely think that a lot of my inspiration comes from like fantasy relationships and kind of my own personal embellishment on what I felt those situations were, when they weren’t like that ever! We have a way of romanticizing life and I think now I’m actually drawing inspiration from the reality of life, and understanding that you can have anything you want. You can manifest things that you want to have like, you’re in control of your own destiny. You were always great, you didn’t need somebody else to make you great. Just life lessons and things that I feel like are gonna be a little bit more towards like the reflective side of what I’ve learned. I still dabble in the fantasy part of things because I’m big into creating your own future and your own journey, but it’s gonna be like manifestation towards what you want and not creating a fake situation out of something that’s not there.
Speaking of inspirations and influences, who do you look up to as an artist?
NM: Mariah Carey, for sure. She’s from Long Island, she’s like the greatest vocalist of all time. She has always been like my number one inspiration; she’s a songwriter, she has an amazing vocabulary, you can learn so much from her music. I’m also a big Lauryn Hill fan, a big Christina Aguilera fan, I love Selena. I kind of just mix all those influences but I really am just into pure artistry—people who write, sing, create and it’s just from the soul, from the spirit.
Would you say “Damage,” was influenced more by dancehall?
NM: So I think it definitely has a dancehall vibe. I’m Jamaican/West Indian so that is a part of my culture that I never really tapped into before. I have been travelling a lot, so when I go on vacation and I’m kind of in the element, I kind of feel like the different part of myself that’s a lot freer. I think I’m really tapping into the island vibes when I’m there and I always come back from a trip inspired. I’m always like, ‘Wow, this is just all about having fun, and eating good food and enjoying life and being around friends and family, and I think that’s something that I never really owned before. I always felt like I never knew enough about that culture to have a say on it. This is why music brings us all together—me being able to tap into my roots, you know dancehall artists have reached out to me now and I think that’s dope!
I do everything myself: my cover arts I’m designing, editing my videos, Instagram marketing, curating photoshoots for content. Figuring out features and things for other people, it’s all me.
On being an independent artist:
NM: Being an independent artist means you’re taking all of your time, all of your resources, all of your money and you’re investing in yourself. I do everything myself: my cover arts I’m designing, editing my videos, Instagram marketing, curating photoshoots for content. Figuring out features and things for other people, it’s all me. It can become a little tiresome because it’s like being an octopus and having one person, and I don’t even have enough arms to do the extra work. It takes time, and people come along and they want to help the process but you don’t want them to control the process. You want them to help your agenda because everybody wants to come in and give their two cents and try to change what you’re doing, but you know at heart what the people want because you have that direct relationship. Everything I’ve done so far has proven to me that my brain works—these ideas are working. It’s just making sure that you/re moving effectively with the right team and things are getting done the way they need to. I move better when I wake up and decide what I want to do, freely.
On longevity in the music industry:
There are no legendary people anymore. And it’s hard because it’s like, okay great everybody can do something that’s cool or dope for the moment, but where does it go beyond that?
NM: To me, the industry changed so much, I’m watching the VMA’s and I’m like, ‘Who?’ Who are they? Where are the classic people that we grew up watching? There are no legendary people anymore. And it’s hard because it’s like, okay great everybody can do something that’s cool or dope for the moment, but where does it go beyond that? So, I’ve spent a lot time really just developing my craft and making sure that I have years. Sonically, I’m going to show you guys something that’s more vocal. I’m going to voice lessons, I’m trying to expand so that I’m not hitting a wall where it’s like the same crap. It may not be played on the radio, but to me it’s about the culture and contributing to our kids’ generation of music like, what do they have?
What’s next for you, what can we expect?
NM: For me, I’m really looking to connect with my fans more. That’s very important to me. I want to create an environment where I could really be close to my fans and give them directly what they want. I think we all focus as artists on how we could get to the next level but we have to really give back to the people who are directly supporting us, and that’s something that’s important to me. So, I’m working I’m building on a platform that I could really help with that.
Definitely have new music coming, I don’t want to call it an EP or an album. People are consuming music so quickly, if I do another EP would people like really listen to it? Because there’s so much music that’s coming out. Am I better off just doing singles and seeing how people react to that? When I drop songs one by one, I do feel like people are able to grasp me more because they can handle it. I’m gonna find a way that I can satisfy my fans but also not oversaturate the market as well. I know that it’s gonna get to where it needs to be—just time and patience.