Nikita talks to us about her new song, her experience in the industry and her upcoming EP
Nikita Kering’ is an award-winning, 18-year-old singer and songwriter. She started singing at the age of 3 under the wings of Emmy Kosgei and has since developed her talent over the years. It is little wonder that she is often compared to Adele in the YouTube comments under her songs. In this interview, we discuss the comparisons, her inspirations and her upcoming EP.
I’m just waiting for people to stop the comparisons and be like this is Nikita Kering
Your new song, “Never let you go” is very RnB, it almost has an Ella Mai vibe to it, is this how you would describe it?
I think that is because of the music I had done before this release that made people kind of go “oh”. It also depends on whose song you are listening to. If you are listening to “Happy With You” you’ll think Adele, if you listen to this song (“Never let you go”) it’s Ella Mae, if you listen to my next song it’s a whole other different story. I’m just waiting for people to stop the comparisons and be like this is Nikita Kering.
How would you describe your sound?
I would say it’s mainly pop and RnB.
Are you listening to any new age RnB artistes?
Not new age per se; I mainly listen to Jasmine Sullivan, Bruno Mars and Arianna Grande. Those are my main inspirations when it comes to RnB. When it comes to Pop, I listen to stuff by Khalid, Zendaya…I don’t have one specific inspiration. You pick and learn things from everybody.
A lot of young people are yearning for inspiration so it’s an amazing thing to be an inspiration to many people
“I’m happy with you” is such a beautiful song and yet the video is simple. A love song with heart and no-frills, which begs the question, how do you put together a music video?
I was young at that time and we didn’t want to do 7 million things at the same time. You have to test the waters to see whether it works financially. You don’t want to put in so much work then get disappointed. We decided because the song is a performance song, a song that if I were to perform live it’ll just be me standing on stage, why not go with the same vibe in the video and let it speak for itself. Gladly it did.
How old were you when you released it?
Is it hard being that young in the industry?
I think there are some pros and cons to it. One of the pros is that a lot of young people are yearning for inspiration so it’s an amazing thing to be an inspiration to many people but there are disadvantages like people thinking that you are naive and don’t know a lot until you prove them wrong (laughs).
Also, there is the element of being forced to learn about the industry at a young age. Your standards become very high compared to other people’s. For me, that is also another huge advantage.
“Never let you go” is part of a much grander project. It’s me stepping out of my comfort zone
Did you have any mentors when you were going into this?
Definitely! When I was much younger I started with Emmy Kosgei but now that I am older I’ve been watching other artists perform and their documentaries. You don’t necessarily need someone’s hand to take you through every step. It is very important to be able to learn some things on your own and see them for yourself. Sometimes to learn how to swim you have to go to the deep end.
You’ve already won awards and worked with Nigeria’s Mr Eazi, does that make the process going forward easier?
It definitely does. I got a lot of experience and to be around more mature people. You learn things quickly that way and your brain becomes sharper. You also get very mature criticism. It’s not just, “oh congratulations, you are doing well” all the time. They will tell you when you do badly or well. I feel like sugarcoating sets you back; so being around people who will tell you, “waah umeimba sijui aje ama umefanya hivi,” it just makes it so much easier to know what to improve on. There’s also more pressure which has helped me grow and raise my standards.
As I understand it, “Never let you go” is part of a larger EP, what should we expect from that?
Yes “Never let you go”(NLYG) is part of a much grander project. Expect a lot of different vibes, a lot of new things which people have not seen from me. It’s just me stepping out of my comfort zone. People have seen a bit of that already with NLYG and I truly believe people will love it.
The most important thing is to keep consistently learning in the process.
Can you hint at some of the song titles we should expect? (Laughs)
I definitely cannot. (Laughs). But I will say I have gotten a lot of help from some people from Sol Generation who have been an amazing guide. They have helped me with my writing; helping me learn how to write better, and writing in Kiswahili which I was really and still am really bad at. (laughs). I can also share that I have also worked with SnowBall Industries to just make amazing content. You guys will see. For now, I cannot give names of the collaborations but I am super excited.
When is the EP going to drop? Is it later this year, Dec/Nov or early Jan 2021?
Aaahhh, no! (About January 2021). It is definitely this year. Way before Christmas. The announcements will be made soon. I don’t want to give too much away but I am excited to finally be back at it.
Do you have any college plans?
I have always wanted to enrol at the Berkey School of Music.
Fantastic! What does the future look like for you, say five years from now?
Hopefully, I would have released another album. That’s one. Two I’m hoping to start a few businesses that I will probably start advertising next year, more charity work where I can give back to the community in different ways and through my music. Those are my top goals although I don’t want to overpredict. One step at a time. The most important thing is to keep consistently learning in the process.
You mentioned charities, which ones do you have in mind?
I don’t have specific organizations but I would like to start my own institution. I am currently working with Brook House School in a project geared toward rebuilding a school in Machakos. I also want to give back in small ways like performing at events, speaking to younger girls and boys and any young people aspiring to go into music.
Who is on your playlist?
Burna Boy, Rema, Reekado Banks, Arianna and myself
If you were a song which one would you be?
I would be something between “Rora” by Reekado and Imagine by AG because those two songs talk about dreams, fantasies… I am in that phase…
What are you currently reading/watching?
Reading: Americana By Chimamanda Adichie
Watching: The Blacklist
If you were a food, what would you be?
Pizza; it can be done in so many different ways
Watch her new song here.