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Featured Interview | Music Artist Nikki Hill Bringing Rock ‘N Roll Back With An Attitude


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Two weekends ago I attended the first annual Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival in Mississippi and it was a blast. I enjoyed great music by well-known artist and artists I’d never heard of, some of which I even got the chance to chat with. By far, the most intriguing performer I saw was American roots artist Nikki Hill. I can totally see this chick topping the charts one day. With a voice from the past, fierce attitude and an unstoppable work ethic, she has everything it takes to make it. And, oh yeah, it doesn’t hurt that she’s gorgeous. When I caught up with Nikki she was on the road, this woman stays busy, so I was grateful when she squeezed in an interview for PSLoveCharli.

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LaTonya >> Hi Nikki, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for pslovecharli.com.  First I wanna apologize because I didn’t make it back for Saturday’s performance at the Jackson Rhythm and Blues Festival. I was worn out from the night before so I got a late start that day.  But I gotta tell you my first impression after Friday’s show- you are an amazing talent and I applaud you for not following the trending sounds prevalent in today’s music.  That takes guts.

Nikki Hill >> Of course! Don’t even worry about it, thank YOU for hanging out on Friday! We had a great time and I’m glad it wore you out hahaha! I really appreciate the compliments. That’s so sweet. I do it because I love it and sometimes that means not everyone is going to ‘get it’ or be into it. But, for the ones that enjoy it, that’s more than enough for me!

LaTonya >> Your sound is very nostalgic. It’s a throwback to 1950’s music and a tribute to that era.  When I hear you, I can’t help but think of Etta James.  Do people compare you to her or anyone else?  If so how does that make you feel?

Nikki Hill >> I’ve definitely heard that before. I get a lot of comparisons to artists like Etta James like you mentioned, and other artists of the 60s like Nina Simone, Barbara Lynn. I also get comparisons to rock and roll artists like Little Richard and Rachel Nagy (of the Detroit Cobras). I consider it to be in really good company hahaha. It honestly blows my mind that I even get those comparisons to people with so much soul and attitude in their music. They are the idols. The f****** kings and queens! And then there is me.

LaTonya >> In the way that there’s no one out like you right now, you remind me of Janelle Monáe. She has her own sound as well as a signature style of dress.   Describe your style, and are your cool head wraps your signature?

Nikki Hill >> Hey that’s pretty cool! Thank you! I really admire Janelle Monae and her style and grace and the way she works the stage. I like the way she dons a ‘uniform’ as well. I think about doing that sometimes too, but more out of laziness hahah. That’s kind of what leads to the head wraps. Updos are always a great go-to when I can’t quite get my hair to style how I want, and the head wrap just added a nice touch. Now it’s kind of stuck. And now as I get busier, it is a great way to add an element of style that also saves me time! I am a huge fan of vintage clothing, so sometimes I’ll break out one of my pieces I’ve collected on stage. However, the risk of my movements and sweat and keeping vintage pieces protected and time to get dressed and all the other shit that goes with traveling have encouraged me to fall into the other side of style that I love, which is tight jeans and cool shirts. I have enough attitude to pull it off hahaha and it works really well for me on the road and ensures that my vintage clothes last a lot longer. It also keeps me from being restricted to certain things. Sometimes you start wearing a lot of vintage and then that’s all people want to see and expect. It’s nice to be able to change it up freely, and plus, I want people to listen first! I like the rock and roll element of hey, I can wear whatever the f*** I want if it looks good, and here’s a song to back it up!

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LaTonya >> Because your sound is so different from what’s out there today, I want to know if you sometimes see the surprise on people’s faces when you deliver something different from what they were expecting to hear when you perform live.

Nikki Hill >> Oh, ALL the time! Especially when I see online that a venue or people promoting a show say something like ‘Lauryn Hill meets Erykah Badu’. Those ladies are great of course, but I’m like ‘oh sh**, now what are people going to say when they’re looking for THAT kind of hybrid’ hahah. It used to kind of freak me out at first because I would think ‘damn, people are really not digging our show’. Turns out they come up afterwards raving about it, and it’s just that they were in shock! Haha I mean it’s cool and I totally get the surprise factor. I’m a brown girl singing rock and roll. And I guess in this time that’s kind of odd? I don’t know. But shit, I don’t really think about it that much more than other people think about it FOR me, you know? I just do what I love, and I love rock and roll. But it’s cool to surprise people as well. It definitely doesn’t hurt us. And more than anything, I just hope it makes people realize that in all reality, it’s NOT that odd. Let’s not forget those who really began rock and roll. As far as I’m concerned, I’m just continuing what people like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Memphis Minnie, Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, and Etta James started!

LaTonya >>  Nikki you must have an unreal work ethic.  I find it impressive that you’ve gone from performing your first live show less than two years ago to being an international touring act in such a short time.  Do things ever feel like they are moving too fast for you?

Nikki Hill >> Thank you! It’s definitely weird hearing it like that, but I guess I’m just living it and don’t know any other way! My husband tells me all the time this couldn’t happen without my dedication and work. I have great people on my side as well like my band of course and my manager, Harry Turner that get me through all of it. The good sh** and the bad sh**. Thankfully there is more good and then really just semi-annoying things that pop up. I just take a breath and say ‘girl, you are so f****** lucky right now! Just get over this little hump and keep on going!’. Things are definitely moving fast, but it took work to get it there and it’s going to take a lot of work to keep it there! I’m constantly on my phone and on the computer and just keeping up. This is a very grassroots thing right now, and thankfully people are supportive and understanding of that. It’s a one woman show as far as running my website and the social networking platforms and handling CD sales and other inquiries. It’s the hardest day job I’ve ever had because it is ALWAYS MOVING. But obviously I’ve been doing something right. I’m just going to keep doing whatever the hell that is. I just stay hydrated and hang on for the ride haha!

LaTonya >> Where are some favorite places you’ve performed and where haven’t you performed but would love to?

Nikki Hill >> I love performing at everything from the bigger festivals to the rock and roll dives and everything in between. So many of the cities I’ve never been too, so it’s cool to see who comes out and checks out the show. A lot of cities and venues just have their own vibe, and really, that’s what does it. It could be anywhere, USA, or the world, for that matter. We’ve performed in front of beautiful scenic places, like Portland and Hot Springs, VA. We’ve played by beaches in Florida and Spain, and we have played some funky dives in New York, Indiana, and the Netherlands. I mean really, could I be any luckier? I am really looking forward to playing in the South more. We have played a few shows here and there, and have a great time in Florida. It’s where my husband and I feel the most at home, and I would love to get a great response there, especially in my home state of North Carolina. We’re playing Texas soon which should be a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to come back to Mississippi and Louisiana!

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LaTonya >>  Let’s talk a little bit about the band.  Everyone was flawless. I especially loved how the guitarist, your husband Matt, ran through the crowd, out one door, across the deck and in another door then back up on stage without missing a note. Wow! Did you know that was going to happen or were you just as surprised as everyone else?

Nikki Hill >>Thank you! I think the band is pretty damn good too hahaha. He’s such a f****** nut. I never know what to expect out of him, but I always know he’s going to rock, so I let him go as he pleases. We have so much fun and he is always surprising me with how amazing he is! Matt has been playing for over 10 years and has his own solo albums as well. He’s been with me every step of the way and is my biggest motivation. We have always wanted to find a way to work together even way back when we were just friends in North Carolina, so we are just having a great time!

LaTonya >>  Who are the other members of the band and how long have they been with you?

Nikki Hill >> Ed Strohsahl is my bass player. He played bass on my debut full length album and did a few gigs with us here and there. He’s a serious badass and we had a lot of fun playing and working with him and so I’m glad he hooked up with us full time this year in April. Joe Meyer is the drummer and is the best damn young drummer I have seen in…. well, a long f******* time. Him and Ed make a great rhythm section which is essential. He’s been working with us since the beginning of this year.  They’re great players and a cool hang and get the job done and don’t cause me problems hahaha. Those types of things are essential when you’re out a lot!

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LaTonya >> What’s next for Nikki Hill and the band?

Nikki Hill >> We’re just going to keep doing what we do and play rock and roll! We have been on tour all summer and will continue into the fall. Our main goal right now is just to perform as much as we can. I’m also writing and working up the next album, so I’m really excited to start recording again at the end of the year/beginning of next year.

LaTonya >>  Nikki thanks again for giving me this interview, it’s been great.   Please tell the fans where they can keep up with you online.

Nikki Hill >> Everyone can keep up with us on nikkihillmusic.com and facebook.com/nikkihillmusic. Thanks so much again to PSLoveCharli! See you again soon!

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Comments

  1. I had never heard her music before and had to look her up after reading your post. she’s amazing! such an incredible voice and I love her retro look!
    xx

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