Words: Laura Turnbull | Header Image: Ty Faruki
Ahead of releasing ‘Working Class Woman’ last autumn, Marie Davidson and Nina Kraviz got their tech-heads together for a remix. The result? A bitingly good retort to all the clingers-on. “I’m single woman and I like to work. I have zero interest in anything that you can offer.” So techno seems a tad distant from Nia Wyn‘s R&B, but the Welsh-born singer’s latest single has all that attitude. ‘Stay In Your Lane’ is exactly what we’ve been wanting to say to those know-it-all lurkers for a long time. Tons of gratitude to Nia for delivering it in such a deliciously soulful tune. Time to get comfy and get your gaze on five questions we fired over to the singer.
Laura: Hey Nia, thanks for taking the time to answer some Qs! Firstly, I wanted to ask about your record hauls in junk shops. I’m a bit of a hoarder so junk shops are my heaven. Have you got some favourite record finds?
Nia: Plenty! Junk shops and charity shops were my first introduction to vinyl and any music outside of chart music, and there weren’t many proper record stores left in North Wales where I grew up.
I’ll start with one my Dad gifted me from his collection first: ‘Two Sevens Clash’ by Culture. Quality album track by track. And a few I actually picked up myself over the years… ’The Pure Essence of New Orleans R&B‘ by Heavy Sugar, Bob Dylan‘s ‘Blonde on Blonde’, ‘Blue’ by Joni Mitchell, ‘Be’ by Common and Jay Z‘s ‘The Blue Print’.
Laura: Really cool to hear the R&B sound in your music. ‘Stay In Your Lane’ made me wanna go back and listen to Kelis’s ‘Tasty’ all over again, and really love that you’re into Lauryn Hill. What is it about that sound that made such an impression on your music?
Nia: Appreciate that! Great album. I think it’s because R&B is a fusion of all the music I love and grew up on – soul music, hip hop and the best aspects of pop. Lyrically I’m drawn to how direct R&B is. The way women in R&B sing or rap about sexuality, power and loss reminds me of some of my biggest early influences – blues singers like Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, Nina Simone.
When I’m writing I like to have that variation of melodies that carry themselves without too many words as equally as verses that use wordplay and snappy rhythms. There’s a few current R&B artists I always have banging on repeat – The Internet, Kehlani, Daniel Caesar.
Laura: In the new single you call out “dudes in the industry and in other areas of my life telling me what I should do and how I should do it.” Have you always found it easy to do things your own way or is it something you’ve had to fight for?
Nia: Haha! I don’t find it easy most of the time but I’ve gotta front! I think in this climate a lot of women artists are regularly fighting for it in many ways. I have so far found that in my experience it has mostly come from older men who think they know everything and what’s best for me. That’s fine with me if you wanna do that – but I’m not going to be easily influenced or put aside all the things I want and feel. It took a few bad experiences for me to get to that mindset. At the moment actually most of my team are guys and they know I’m strong-willed creatively and have my back.
Get your ears on Nia Wyn‘s new single ‘Stay In Your Lane’:
Laura: Do you get frustrated with people making a point of you being a female musician?
Nia: Well, yes and no. No in the sense that I am proud to be a woman artist and the issue of gender/sexuality is important to me and is represented in my music lyrically. Yes in the sense that in an ideal world the gender of a musician should not matter and should not be a descriptor when talking about someone’s art.
But that’s where we are at the moment, we don’t live in an ideal world and I do think some of the women who are coming through on the UK scene are really breaking down those perceptions of how a woman should be in music – Little Simz, Shura, Self Esteem just to name a few. That’s inspiring and that’s energy to feed off.
Laura: Lastly, Have you got any bits of advice for women just starting out in the music industry?
Hone your craft and learn as much as possible independently. Don’t rely on others too much but spend a balanced time working with others and collaborating. I felt I gained way more creative control learning how to use Logic myself and thinking carefully about production, so when I reached the studio with whoever I was working with I could articulate and express how I wanted things to sound, and then bounce off them.
Trust your gut about people too. People try to gas you up about “I can do X for you, I worked with X and X”. Only surround yourself with people who actually understand you and don’t have some dodgy ulterior motive.
I think a lot of women artists say this all the time, but we all need to do more to support women and non-binary artists – supporting each other, working together and not seeing each other as competition or obstacles. Things are getting better in that respect for sure.
Find Nia Wyn here:
Also! Nia has a headline show coming up this November at The Waiting Room in London. Get there:
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