RnB songstress Neila chats to Sammi Swinton about new music and opens up on sexuality during Grammy week!
RnB songstress Neila chats to Sammi Swinton about new music and opens up on sexuality during Grammy week!
Kicking off 2020 with our first interview of the year with Neila!
Neila, is a young daring beauty who hails from South Florida currently flourishing in the Music Capital ATL. With her eclectic and relate-able mix of classic R&B and Hip Pop; a new age genre taking the industry by storm, Neila enjoys the beauty in making her music, which is a dichotomy between emotion and feeling. With heavy influences ranging from artist like The Beatles, Aaliyah, soul from Micheal Jackson and Jimi Hendrix and plays on words from Frank Ocean, Neila reaches undiscovered planets. Making feel good music with story lines of love, unrequited connections, passion and pain which are all displayed within her newest EP ‘Venus’ produced by Spree Wilson, Neila gives us a taste with lead single ‘No’, follow up track Red Moon. and latest release ‘Chips and Salsa’
So I was in LA for Grammy week, courtesy of Music in Motion PR, Neila came over to our apartment for a chat and she was so lovely! Complementing me on my HYPE dress and Doin Fleek Shades – I felt comfortable with Neila straight away and could feel she felt comfortable talking with me also.
Neila started by telling me her name is an anagram – Alien spelt backwards, she loves watching scary movies in bed with a nice bowl of pasta. We went head first into the conversation around paranormal activity and protection, as I have followed Neila for some time now, I am aware of some of her main interest’s and this is why I was so excited to finally meet her in person!
Sam: So do you like hide under the covers after watching scary movies?
Neila: I love watching scary movies, I watch ghost adventures and paranormal activity all the time! Like Holy Shit! But I use Sage to smudge all the negativity out so if I get a little scared ill just Sage.
Sam: What do you feel that you gift others with, with your music?
Neila: When I’m making music i make music for myself, its like a healing process for me, kind of like a purging of whatever’s on my mind and through that, I feel like I heal people with my music, because it healed me and healing is universal, so if it can heal me it can heal others as well if you can relate. Through the connection of knowing that you’re not alone is like a healing process.
Sam: I felt that on Red Moon, I really love that track!
Neila: Thank you! I get so many messages and DM’s from people saying that they cried when they first listened to it.
Sam: I felt really emotional when I first listened to it, I really connected with you on that track (related to)
Neila: That’s one of my favourite songs, I was in a really shitty place when I wrote that song, I was drinking incredibly way too much, didn’t know who the hell I was and that was what the song is about, finding myself again, like where the fuck did you go sis, who are you now?
Sam: Do you still feel like you have elements of that person in you?
Neila: That song was written a year and a half a go now, and I feel like I’ve come a really long way, my spirituality really grounds me, that’s why I post all the time about meditation and stuff because that’s what helped me get back to myself, I’m definitely not there anymore thank god! I’m in such a way better place, I stopped drinking and just really got my mind together, I didn’t rely on a specific religion just spirituality and I go by a lot of Buddhist practices and philosophies.
Sam: So what music influenced you growing up?
Neila: Im Jamaican and Bajan, my dad is from Jamaica, mums from Barbados so I listen to a lot of carribbean music, but my parents when they came to America they went to high school in New York, so I listened to a lot of Biggie, I know majority of Biggie’s songs word for word. My mum was a huge Michael Jackson fan, so I listened to a lot of Michael Jackson, but through that I found Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles. My dad was also really into classical rock, I grew up with instruments all around me in my house, we had a jump set, piano, guitar so all types of music to be honest. I grew up in the suburbs where I was around people that didn’t look like me, so I also listened to their music, a whole bunch of stuff, I have like a really broad spectrum of what I listen too and what influences me.
Sam: Do you use those elements in the sounds that you create for yourself?
Neila: Yes, I just pick up certain things but I definitely love quirky different sounds, and the producers I work with are like my music soul mates thank God! So we’re all on the same wave. We have a bit of Frank Ocean, Jimi Hendrix little bit of The Beatles but we’ll also throw in some Pharrell and Timbaland too, its really dope.
Sam: Your style is so amazing and unique, how did this come about?
Neila: well, I never wanted a regular hair colour, ever. So the moment my mum allowed me to dye my hair I originally went for blue first, tinted, but it was too regular. Then I went to dye my hair pink and then I changed my mind at the last minute to green. Everyone was doing pink, let’s do green… This was around 5 years ago. I did green and I’ve been green ever since. I wasn’t always like this, where I grew up I was really the only black person, in my hood in my classes etc, so growing up I really just tried to fit in most of the time. I remember when I was in middle school, I had my dad get me these colourful Nike duncs, I wanted them so sooo bad. I wore them to school one time and there was this girl and she was like ‘Oh look at her tryna be all ghetto’ that was where I lived, so for a long time I suppressed what I like to wear and how I dressed. when I got to high school I said fuck you! to all those kids and started doing my own thing. I’m a big advocate of just being yourself and saying fuck you to everybody. My parents already know, growing up they were like ‘just let her be her’ because that was my mentality, like I don’t want to feel like I cant be who I am, it’s the worst feeling in the world. One of my biggest things is letting people my age, older and younger, know that being exactly who you are feels so much better than trying to be something that you’re not. That’s where a lot of anxiety and depression comes from because we’re trying to be something we aren’t and it sucks!
Sam: So you’re about to drop ‘Chips and Salsa’, tell me a bit about that?
Neila: The song Chips and Salsa, I first wrote that without a hook or beat or anything, I was jumping up and down in my room, and saying something like ‘oh lite chips and salsa’ and then I was like ‘OMG everyone likes chips and salsa and everyone likes pussy!’ (epiphany) chips and salsa is that go to snack that everybody loves, vagina is a go to snack that everybody loves so hey might as well make a song about it. The video is super super cool! Like a home video, you know like porn hub (sexy blonde makes sandwich) you know like a home video for your boyfriend? That was the inspiration for the video 🙂
The video for chips and salsa is out now be sure to watch it above!
Sam: So you’ve released your ‘Venus EP’ with 5 tracks, what other plans/projects do you have?
Neila: OMG so many, I just added someone new to my team which I’m really excited about! We’ve already finished the production and writing for a new project so I started cutting that literally the next day. I’m going to be putting out more music, we’re having a pop up show in Atlanta which is planned for April, I’ve been talking about touring and festivals with my new manager so definitely doing that. I always say I want to take over the world.
Sam: I’m aware you have a deep interest in spirituality and sexuality, and you said that you felt quite Opressed growing up, what sort of things did you struggle with in relation to your beliefs?
Neila: Well, sexuality wise, I was actually sexually assaulted when I was 15 in high school, so that dented me from knowing myself sexually in general, for a long long time. Once I was able to move through that, it was a big thing. Where we lived growing up, we were the only black family for a long time, I feel like I struggled with my identity for a very long time, I’m also mixed and bi-racial but it was also hard to deal with. I felt that my sexuality was taken away from me at a really young age, I also didn’t know where I fitted in as the only black person in my class, trying to literally just fit in when you literally stand out, that for me was some of my biggest stuff I struggled with. Throughout high school and college I studied many different religions, I tried to figure out where I fit with that as well, I settled on the idea that I believe there is a God, a universe or a creator.. I like to take bits and pieces from what makes sense to me. I feel like my religion is more gratitude and kindness, rather than me saying I follow one thing. Everything has a beauty about it and you can take bits and pieces from all these different cultures and religions and make yourself a really happy solid place from that.
(Neila was so open and calm talking to me about these things… A truly brave woman with many interest’s thoughts and opinions – we salute you for your honesty and artistry <3)
Sam: If you could recommend me 3 books which ones would you recommend?
Neila: The four agreements – I read that like 50 million times and whenever I feel like I need to read it again I’ll just read it again.
The alchemist, I literally had been putting off reading it for years and I sat down over the past holiday and read it in one day, it was so good!
Girl, I love reading books and starting new books, right now I’m actually reading ‘Change your thoughts, change your life’ by Wayne Dyer it’s really good.
The Four Agreements is like a series, there’s 4 or 5 books including the mastery of love and the voice of knowledge. They’re really dope, if you do read them I’d start with the four agreements, that is what really pushed me on my spiritual journey and finding myself, it gave me a really different perspective, I love that book! I think everyone should read that book.
Sam: I heard you were part of a Sprite campaign last year, how did that happen and what was it like?
Neila: Yes! One day I got back from hiking and saw this email, from a casting agency I auditioned for like 2 years prior and they wanted me to turn up the next day at 10.30am, so I showed up and they asked me ‘hey, what part?’ and I literally had no idea but they sent me for the artist audition. They ended up using a rapper but said I had the part of an Uber driver, then they asked me if I knew my lines? I was like what nobody gave me any lines… they fed me the lines and I was on set for 2 days but it was really chilled and I ended up being able to pay off my apartment for the year from those 5 words. I’m really glad I did it, it was a dope experience. They’ve been playing the ad a lot and people have been hitting me up about it so I’m here like great I should get a cheque soon lol.
You can catch Neila’s feature in the sprite ad across TV , digital stores and Youtube but for now, be sure to watch Chips and Salsa above and Follow Neila here.
Post by: Sammi Swinton