The 22 year-old RnB singer hailing from North London, has recently released the video for his single “Right Now“ off his (as-of-yet) untitled debut album, out this winter.
At the age of 19, Nyakz released a self-produced 7 track EP while he was studying Politics in university. The EP was met with positive reviews and helped the young singer gain a lot of attention, giving him the opportunity to perform alongside acts such as Wretch 32, Devlin, Mr. Hudson, Starboy Nathan and Loick Essien.
After doing over 300 live shows and singing in one of North London’s leading youth choirs Nyakz, has been working on his debut album. The first release is the catchy “Right Now” which has an infectious beat that is quite similar to Jim Jonsin’s production style with a mid 90’s twist. Although the lyrics are not too complex, they combine well with the songs stylistic quality.
I recently had the chance to interview the talented Nyakz who shares a similar interest with me – the NBA. As a teenager he had dreams of playing in the NBA but that all changed when he picked the microphone at the age of 15.
Nyakz, can you tell us why you picked that name?
I picked the name Nyakz because of my friends in secondary school. I asked teachers to call me by my surname which is ‘Nyakuma’; and my friend Klayz, one day in English class, called me ‘Nyakz’ the rest is history. All my friends started calling me Nyakz and it stuck with me for all these years.
Okay. You mention your mother made you take instrument lessons when you were younger, is your family musical?
My family was not, is not, and probably will never be musical [laughs]. They are all about education. My mum even said if you’re going to do music for a living, you need a degree to show people you have the skills. I told my mother I don’t want to go back to university [laughs].
I know exactly what you mean [laughs] – Tell us how important music is to you.
It is very important, because music allows you to tell your story and express how you are feeling. Melodies can brighten up your day and make you feel sad. Not only this, music is a release. When you are stressed you can sit by a piano or whatever instrument you play, and create a melody that will last a lifetime.
I agree. In your biography it says you were inspired by the likes of R. Kelly, Joe, Tyrese and Trey Songz who are RnB singers. But has anyone else inspired you from another genre to do music?
I like a lot of pop/edm music. It is extremely catchy and well produced. I also like Japanese composers such as Ryuichi Sakamoto. He is a pianist and oh my gosh is he dope. He has got melodies for days.
I’ve never heard of Ryuichi Sakamoto before but I’ll research his music. Have you got a favourite song / album from that particular artist?
I think if I had to pick a favourite album it would TP2 by R Kelly. I say this because he really speaks on life. He takes you from the club to the bed room, to the streets and even church, all in one album. And this is a life most people are living. And that is what music is meant to be. It is boring when artists only sing about one thing all the time. It needs to be diverse because our lives are our story. We do not party all the time. We go through dramas as well. I also like Nas’ Untitled album. I think the production is dope and the message is strong.
That Nas album had a strong message for sure. What records did you grow up listening to?
My dad played R. Kelly and Usher; well that’s what I remember listening to in the car and around the house. I also remember being the biggest Will Smith fan in my younger days. His music was really cool back then.
Two of the best in the game and Will Smith had the hits back then! What is your songwriting process?
I write about life. That is the process. I have to write what I am currently going through. If today is a great day, I feel inspired to make great music. if it is a bad, then I will write bad music .
I think that’s what all musicians should do. You also produce your own music, how do you balance songwriting and producing?
The two work hand in hand. A lot of people do not realise that when you “make a beat” or “compose” you are also songwriting. Producing is just the natural next step. Being a producer just means finishing the record and making a product (taking it through the stages of production). But if you mean writing lyrics as well, for me it is very simple. The composing and songwriting, and producing go hand in hand. Once I start creating melodies on my keyboard, I start humming melodies and lyrics, and boom the record is made. So I don’t really need time to do one or the other, I just do them together as I am working.
You hit the nail on the head! So is that how you came up with the song Right Now?
Yes. Pretty much. I was searching through my sounds, as a composer should, and then I came up with the main melody. Once I added the drums to the melody, I started singing the chorus over and over again untill I was happy. Worked on the beat some more, and then wrote the verse.
Sounds good to me. Who are some of your favourite producers?
I have a list of favourite producers and I’ll explain why. In no particular order. 1. JUSTICE League. They are special hip-hop producers. They sample and compose original melodies which gives them the best of both worlds. They also know how to make records that are so simple but sonically they sound amazing. i.e Rick ross – Aston Martin Music or Rick Ross – Luxury Tax. They pick instruments that work with the vocalists (rapper/singer) and add/take away the instruments as the song progresses to make it sound epic.
Stargate – They are a special duo when it comes to producing. They will make Black And Yellow for Wiz Khalifa and then Fireworks for Katy Perry, and that’s why they are amazing. They again have a very simple sound but is very diverse at the same time.
Bryan M. Cox. – This is one of the best RnB producers to ever do it. He fuses gospel with RnB and people don’t even realise it, and thats what makes him unique. Trey songz – Last Time or Ginuwine – One Time For Love are perfect examples of B Cox work, he has a great sense of melody and has outstanding arrangements.
Another producer is Polow Da Don. He creates perfect records. The mixture kick drums and 808’s he picks are crazy. Lloyd – Lay It Down or Lloyd – Be The One. He can make a slow jam feel like a club record, and trust me that is a hard thing to do.
Good choices. Out of all the artists you’ve performed alongside, who would you work with if you had the chance to and why?
Mr. Hudson. I saw him live and he was so energetic I could not believe it. Also because he is in a different genre to music to me. It would be nice to see what would happen if we came together from different musical backgrounds and made a record together.
That would be cool. What are artists are you currently listening to?
Recently I have been listening to a lot of August Alsina. I think he is dope, and given that I have been following his career from when he started, it’s great to see him where he is now. Also a lot of Brandy, R. Kelly and Joe. I gotta keep that RnB inside flowing through me. I have been listening to a lot of the radio. It is so weird. I say I hate the way radio keeps playing the same songs but I find something very infectious about the songs they play. [laughs]. The radio will have you singing a song you hate like you wrote it. I also listen to grime. i.e Skepta etc. I have been listening since my secondary school days. I don’t think that will ever leave my system.
Yes August Alsina is pretty good, I’m also a fan. What can we expect from your upcoming album?
The album is going to be real RnB. And I don’t say that lightly. If you like Right Now then this album will be perfect. The album is also a picture of my life. I am going to make sure you understand my journey, and what I am about as a person, and musically.
I really like the sound of that. Will there be any guest features on the album?
As of yet there is not, but who knows how things will turn out in the next couple of months.
True. Are you planning to release another single before you release the album?
Yes, Of course! We have about another 2 singles before the album drops. One is a club record. It’s crazy. I have played it to some people and they can’t stop moving. And the best part about it is that it is still all RnB. I am still deciding what the 3rd single should be as I am deciding between two records.
I’m looking forward to hearing those singles. Finally, I can see you’re an NBA fan, you had dreams of making it big in that Sport before you fell in love with music. Can you tell us what team you follow? And what do you think about the Donald Sterling controversy?
I don’t really follow any team. Once I said I am going to be a singer to be honest Basketball did not matter. I don’t even miss it now. And serves him right. He made a stupid comment in an industry that has a majority of black athletes. Did he expect the comment to get swept under the rug? Serves him right. People should not be making racist comments of any kind in this post-modern era. Everything he is getting he deserves and more to be honest.