Hailing from London, British Nigerian native NISSI is an acclaimed singer, songwriter, musician and painter with super-human sonic shapeshifting abilities.
Initially bursting on the scene in 2016 with her acclaimed singles “Pay Attention” and “Criminal,” NISSI has garnered the attention of tastemakers in the UK, US, and Africa for her vibrant delivery, flow and vocal performance. However, her abilities stem further than the required skills needed to pursue a career in music. NISSI’s true gift to the industry is her ability to constantly reimagine her brand and transcend genre’s seamlessly without sacrificing the quality of her music. For that reason alone, she has gained hypefresh’s attention due to her honest perspective on free-creativity, versatility and art mirroring her life.
Artists and humans in a general context have issues with the concept of evolution. Listen up as NISSI gives us all a lesson in exploring sonic variation and artist metamorphosis.
Q: To start, please tell us about yourself.
A: My name is Nissi Ogulu and i’m a London based, singer/songwriter and visual artist. I am a graduate of engineering from Warwick university. I’m goofy, very creative, sometimes nerdy but also a very serious person. I’m inspired by a lot of things, but primarily by my family and my upbringing.
Q: Your music has been referred to as R&B, Soul, Funk, Pop and Regagge. How would you describe your sound?
A: This is always a tricky one for me. My music is a blend of genres into a unique yet relatable sound with the vocals and delivery remaining the point of identity. I struggle to define my sound because I see myself as being on a journey where my sound evolves as I do as a person and even as the world around me changes. As much as it is clear what my genre influences are, I am always careful to think of my sound more as something that is understandable (despite its fluidity) but not “definable”, because it is constantly evolving. My roots of music creation from when I was a child started with jazz because my grandfather believed it possessed the most complex of musical sounds and so was the best starting point for me. Over the years I have experimented with several other sounds and that has led me to this point where I am, but I stay very careful not get comfortable and box myself in.
Q: Since your first two singles, “Pay Attention” and “Criminal,” how have you evolved as an artist?
A: I have evolved in my sound, my expression of thought and emotion and even my delivery. These things take a lot of practice. I also am more opinionated about a lot of things, particularly with the directions I want to take my music. One very important thing is that I have also learned to accept that as an artist I will always chase perfection in my craft but at the same time I must be able to identify when it has hit its mark in the creation process.
Q: “Criminal” has a jazzy / blues and reggae sonic identity, while “Pay Attention,” feels much more Pop, Funk and Reggae. Do you ever feel pressure to create a specific type of sound?
A: Not at all. Like any other artist sometimes you may sometimes feel coerced into following a trend because executives are hounding hound you about it based on their “marketing strategy”, but the most impactful music made are the ones that set trends by being different from the factory line of same-sounding offerings in the market and that is what I hope to do continually.
Q: How did you find your sound amidst the wide range of musical influences?
A: Just by focusing on myself musically and trying to blend all the sounds that appealed to my tastes over my years of development. It’s all about experimentation and finding what speaks your truth as you develop.
Q: Do you think it is possible to evolve as an artist without changing your sound?
A: That probably depends on your niche. If there is a market that demands the same old sound from you and that’s your core market, then yes. But generally, the market changes and artists change in their personal and professional lives. Your music and your sound have to be an accurate representation of these things, because that’s the point of relatability. I definitely believe and practise versatility in my sound because for me, there is no question about the fact that an artist has to evolve as the world around him or her does.
Q: How much of your time is spent contemplating sounds versus creating freely?
A: Interesting question. There was a time that contemplating sounds was what I did most and honestly in that time I created the least amount of music ever. I realised that as much as I wanted to always critique sounds and search for all things new and old, creating freely was what was most important to a me. I just needed to find a starting point and soar from there.
Q: If you could narrow down three tips for upcoming artists, what tips can you provide in regards to the phases of sonic and artistic evolution?
A: Explore sounds and give yourself time to experiment enough to know who you are as you perfect your craft. Your sound will be appreciated. Love your music.
Q: Any last words?
A: Thank you for having me, I hope you stay tuned to my music and art. I’m excited about what is to come, history in the making.
A special thank you to NISSI for kicking off hypefresh’s refined initiative to inform and inspire the next generation of creatives. For more of NISSI’s insight and creative genius, follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Soundcloud.