Niki (singer)

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NIKI
NIKI 2020.jpg
Niki in 2020
Born
Nicole Zefanya

(1999-01-24) 24 January 1999 (age 22)
Jakarta, Indonesia
Alma materLipscomb University[1][2]
Occupation
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Musical career
Genres
Instruments
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • ukulele
  • keyboard
  • piano
Years active2012–present
Labels
Associated acts

Nicole Zefanya (born 24 January 1999), known professionally as NIKI, is an Indonesian singer, songwriter and record producer. She is currently based in the United States and signed with the record label 88rising.

Early life[edit]

Nicole Zefanya, born 24 January 1999, was raised in Jakarta, Indonesia.

At nine years old, Zefanya taught herself how to play the guitar.[5] At 13, she began writing original music.[6] Although her music is partially influenced by her mother, who exposed Zefanya to soul, gospel, and 1990s' R&B like Destiny's Child and Aaliyah when she was young, Zefanya's earliest original music skewed towards the folk and indie genres.[7][8][9]

Career[edit]

At 15, she was the opening act for Taylor Swift's The Red Tour in Jakarta after winning a competition arranged by Swift and the ice-cream brand Walls, called Ride to Fame.[10] Zefanya maintained a YouTube channel throughout her teenage years, which gained over 40,000 subscribers. She uploaded many original songs and covers, most of them acoustic/stripped, including ballads "Polaroid Boy" (2016) and "Anaheim" (2017), which were eventually released and on Spotify under Nicole Zefanya.[11][12]

In 2017, Zefanya moved to Nashville, Tennessee to study music at Lipscomb University.[1][2] She released two singles, “See U Never” and “I Like U”[13] under the American mass media company 88rising as an artist under their label.[3] She released the song “Vintage” in May 2018 as the first single for her debut extended play titled Zephyr.[14]

Zefanya has stated that she tries to empower Asians and Asian Americans through her music.[15] In the first "Head in the Clouds" music festival, NIKI took a moment to address the 10,000-plus audience gathered in Los Angeles’ Historic State Park. “I just want to say, as an Asian female, I do not take this day and this stage for granted.[16] My hope is that above everything else today, that you feel heard, you feel understood, but most of all that you feel represented." NIKI's mission is to empower young Asian artists under-represented in the American music industry.[17]

After 88rising announced their collaboration with popular food festival 626 Night Market to curate a food section at their second "Head in the Clouds" music festival, Zefanya made a special guest appearance with a meet-and-greet at the 626 Night Market event at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California on 11 August 2019.[18]

In September 2020, Zefanya released her debut genre-bending concept album Moonchild.[2] In an interview she was quoted saying,

In terms of genre or sound, I wouldn’t even know how to describe this album. It doesn’t really fit into any box and I’m completely ok with that. I personally love projects like that – ones that push boundaries and don’t adhere to any convention. Music is expressive; it’s art. Formulas get old and boring. I think that’s how this project differs from my past projects. I sort of just let go of any and all preconceived notions, rules and limitations I had in my head and just let my creativity take the wheel in any direction.[2]

In December 2020, Zefanya dropped "Hallway Weather," a holiday single reminiscent of her folk/indie roots. She says the song is in “the style of music & songwriting [she remembers] feeling most like [herself]. It is genuine & it is true.”[19][20]

Zefanya was involved on five tracks for the soundtrack of the 2021 film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

Artistry[edit]

Zefanya's music influences ranges from folk/indie to '90s R&B artists, such as Boyz II Men, Destiny's Child, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Kirk Franklin, and Aaliyah.[21][7][22] She grew up very exposed to music as her mother sang church gospel music as a backup singer.[21] Zefanya has been exploring new sounds outside R&B since the release of her debut album Moonchild. She has also said that she listens to and is influenced by all kinds of music.[2] She cites growing up in Indonesia as influencing her worldview, and in turn, her music. [22]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

List of studio albums, with release date and label shown
Title Album details
Moonchild
  • Released: 10 September 2020
  • Label: 88rising, 12Tone
  • Formats: Digital download, streaming

Live albums[edit]

Title Album details
NIKI Acoustic Sessions: Head In The Clouds II
  • Released: 12 November 2019
  • Label: 88rising, 12Tone
  • Formats: Digital download, streaming

Extended plays[edit]

List of EPs, with release date and label shown
Title Album details
Zephyr
  • Released: 23 May 2018
  • Label: 88rising, Empire
  • Formats: Digital download, streaming
Wanna Take This Downtown?
  • Released: 17 May 2019
  • Label: 88rising, 12Tone
  • Formats: Digital download, streaming

Singles[edit]

List of singles, with year released and album name shown
Title Year Album
"Awali Hari Dengan Cinta" 2014 Non-album singles
"Polaroid Boy" 2016
"Anaheim" 2017
"See You Never"
"I Like U"
"Chilly"
"Newsflash!" 2018 Zephyr
"Say My Name"
"Friends"
"Spell"
"Vintage"
"Dancing with the Devil"
"Warpaint" Head in the Clouds
"Lowkey" 2019 Wanna Take This Downtown?
"Indigo" Head in the Clouds II
"Shouldn't Couldn't Wouldn't"
"La La Lost You"
"Sugarplum Elegy" Non-album single
"Switchblade" 2020 Moonchild
"Selene"
"Lose"
"Hallway Weather" Non-album single
"Every Summertime" 2021 Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings (soundtrack)

Guest appearances[edit]

Year Title Album
2018 "Little Prince"
(Rich Brian featuring Niki)[23]
Amen
2019 "No More"
(Higher Brothers featuring Niki)
Five Stars
2020 "Forever"
(End of the World featuring Niki)
Chameleon
2021 "COMING HOME"

(HONNE featuring NIKI)

Let's Just Say the World Ended a Week from Now, What Would You Do?

Tour[edit]

Opening act[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "NIKI and Rich Brian set to be the first Indonesians to perform at Coachella". Coconuts Media. 3 January 2020. Retrieved 3 January 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e "BAEwatch: NIKI The 88rising artist talks about the concept behind her debut album, 'MOONCHILD.'". hypebae.com. 2 May 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  3. ^ a b Methanisa, Katyusha (29 September 2017). "Meet the Latest Indonesian R&B Singer Trying to Take Over the US". Vice. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  4. ^ "SINDHÈN INTERVIEW: NIKI". 4 October 2017 – via YouTube.
  5. ^ "Indonesian singer Niki opened for Taylor Swift when she was 15 | The Star". www.thestar.com.my. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  6. ^ "NIKI interview: on Taylor Swift, Halsey tours and new EP 'Zephyr'". NME | Music, Film, TV, Gaming & Pop Culture News. 28 May 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  7. ^ a b Harfenist, Ethan (14 November 2017). "We Talked to Indonesia's 'R&B Princess' NIKI About 'Going International,' and '90s Nostalgia". Vice. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  8. ^ "Niki Zefanya: Not Stopping For Any One". Music Press Asia. 23 July 2019. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  9. ^ "Check out 88rising's new R&B starlet, NIKI". lab.fm. 5 May 2018. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  10. ^ Bartleet, Larry. "NIKI: "Name one Asian artist that's popping right now. I want to be the girl that sets that up"". NME. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  11. ^ "Nicole Zefanya". Genius. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  12. ^ "Nicole Zefanya". Spotify. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  13. ^ "In The Studio with NIKI". milk.xyz. 1 January 2017. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  14. ^ "NIKI Reminisces About a Former Love in 'Vintage' Video: Premiere". Billboard. 2 May 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  15. ^ "NIKI Opens Up About the Value of Creative Freedom and Pushing Past Her Anxieties". Popspoken. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  16. ^ Morin, Natalie. "NIKI Wants Asians To Own Their Heritage". refinery29.com. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  17. ^ "Indonesian singer's mission to break America's bamboo ceiling". South China Morning Post. 5 July 2018. Retrieved 31 October 2019.
  18. ^ "Jackson Wang, iKON, DPR Live, Dumbfoundead Join Head in the Clouds 2019 Festival: Exclusive". Billboard. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
  19. ^ @nikizefanya (14 December 2020). "'Hallway Weather' out tomorrow 🎄" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  20. ^ "Listen to NIKI's melancholic new Christmas song, 'Hallway Weather' | NME". NME | Music, Film, TV, Gaming & Pop Culture News. 15 December 2020. Retrieved 5 February 2021.
  21. ^ a b "Niki's Debut Album 'Moonchild' Is Her Own Otherworldly Safe Space". W Magazine | Women's Fashion & Celebrity News. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  22. ^ a b "BAEwatch: NIKI". HYPEBAE. Retrieved 2 February 2021.
  23. ^ Maher, Natalie (30 January 2018). "Rich Brian reveals track list for debut album 'Amen'". Billboard. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  24. ^ Cung, Danie (5 June 2014). "Lautan Swifties di #REDTourJkt Taylor Swift di MEIS". Creative Disc. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  25. ^ Newstead, Al (26 March 2018). "Rich Brian announces debut Australian tour". Triple J. Retrieved 11 June 2018.
  26. ^ Jones, Abby (26 March 2018). "Halsey Announces Final Installment of Hopeless Fountain Kingdom World Tour". Billboard. Retrieved 11 June 2018.

External links[edit]