Hello everyone and welcome back to the Band of The Day interview! Today we’re talking to Nia CC, an Alt Pop Singer / Songwriter as well as an amazing storyteller with a lot of stories to tell. Joe us as we talk about her musical origins as well as the weirdest things she’s heard during a show.
If you could introduce yourselves for us, who are you?
My name is Nia C. C. and I’m a storyteller. Songwriting is like a diary for me. It’s the outlet where I’m able to be my full authentic self and tell my story, whether it be about Disney World or heartbreak. And as someone who tends to live in this world with a lot of passion and feelings, I have a lot of stories to tell with a lot of different messages. That said, I would say the through-line in my music is not necessarily the content I’m singing about, but who I am as an artist. As a Black woman in America playing the guitar and singing genres that are often times predominantly white, my message is that of reclamation. Claiming space where many Black artists have been pushed out of, and being a voice that brings us into this more diverse and inclusive stage in the music industry. So whether I’m singing about a break up, or explicitly singing about racial inequality or sexism, it’s important to me that my audience is able to walk away more empathetic, more joyful, or even more supportive about a more inclusive society, no matter how subtle and subconscious that may be. That’s the impact and importance of storytelling and songwriting to me. Not just the story being told, but the importance of who is telling it. That’s really what I want my first impression of me to be
How long have you been playing?
I began taking piano lessons at the age of 4, and wrote my first song, about Disney World, when I was 8 years old realizing early on that songwriting was something I wanted to do. I grew up listening to artists like Corinne Bailey and Taylor Swift, and I loved how they were always able to play live with their guitar on hand, something that was harder to do with an immobile piano. So at age 12, I decided to teach myself how to play both the guitar and the ukulele so I could carry them with me to open mics and to school. Throughout school I was very active in the performing arts from show choir, and to dance classes ranging from ballet to jazz and hip hop. As a student at the University of Virginia, where I just graduated from last month, I was the Music Director for the all female award winning A Capella group, the Virginia Sil’hooettes, and a writer and performer for the student run show The Black Monologues. With a degree in music and African American studies, I recently released my self-written and self-produced undergraduate thesis album titled “On Trial” that explores the history and dynamics of Blackness at UVA through a collection of songs. That said, songwriting is like a diary for me. It’s the outlet where I’m able to be my full authentic self and tell my story, whether it be about Disney World or heartbreak. And as someone who tends to live in this world with a lot of passion and feelings, I have a lot of stories to tell. Currently, I have a catalogue of 500+ songs to my name and I can’t wait to continue writing more.
What three words would you use to describe the music you play?
Authentic. Imaginative. Boundless.
What are your musical influences?
I grew up the youngest of 3 and really close to my siblings: my sister Kiara who is 10 years older and my brother Sanford who is 8 years older. Both of them love music and I thought they were the coolest people in the world, so I listened to a lot of what they listened to growing up: Ciara, Usher, Alicia Keys, TLC and so many more. I’ve also been a pretty big Taylor Swift fan since I was about 7 years old, so she really had an influence on my journey as an artist and a songwriter. She was someone who inspired me to not just play the piano, but to pick up the guitar too. That said, growing up in Northern Virginia I listened to a mix of music from Imagine Dragons, one of my favorite bands, to Drake, to Carrie Underwood, to Ed Sheeran, to Corinne Bailey. For a while, I even struggled with a bit of a genre crisis because every song I wrote was so different. Was I a country artist? An R&B artist? Did I want to get into Rock? Maybe pop music? It was something I was so insecure about for awhile until I ultimately decided to see my diversity in sound as a strength, and find the through line in the stories I tell with my music and who I am as an artist.
What’s the weirdest thing you’ve seen during a show?
I don’t know about the weirdest thing I’ve seen during a show, but I think the noises people make during shows are hilarious. Not even the sounds themselves, but the moments that they occur. Like someone laughing during a show is totally fine and normal when it’s a loud venue and the artist is rocking out and the audience is cheering. But put that laugh in the middle of an artist singing an angsty song with just their guitar, and suddenly everyone is looking around awkwardly and the artists is telling themself to ignore it and stay in the mood of the song. While those moments can be awkward, and maybe even annoying for some, I love that it gives the audience character. It makes the conversation between the audience more animated and real, and that’s what makes performing so fun.
Being away from the stages since last year, where is the one place you’d visit when the restrictions are lifted?
I tend to love places where I’m able to make a connection with the audience, so I would love to visit a place like that now that restrictions are lifted. There are so many places that come to mind, but the first one I’d love to visit is The Bluebird Cafe in Nashville. So many artists that I aspire to be like have performed there, and I’ve been to Nashville before and just loved everything about it, so I would love to go back there one day.
What’s the one record you own but wouldn’t ever admit to owning?
This question is so hilarious because I love so many songs and artists that some musicians look down on because they’re not as “hipster-like” or “indie” or “serious. I mean I grew up being a One-Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Austin Mahone “stan,” so I imagine there are a lot of records where people think I shouldn’t admit to having them. But, I tend to have pride and love all of the things I listen to, so I would proudly admit to owning everything I do. That being said, if I had to choose one record, I would probably say “See the Signs” from Elmo. It’s a BOP. And I have no shame in saying that. I watch the video a lot on YouTube because it’s that good. But you know, probably something people would make fun of me for. Definitely something they’ll make fun of me for. I’ll take it though. It’s a great song. No shame.
What have you been listening to in the last few weeks?
I’ve been listening to a lot of movie soundtracks lately. I absolutely LOVED the soundtrack from Cruella since it’s set in the 70s and I love the 70’s. The music, the fashion, the social movements. So I’ve been listening to Ike & Tina Turner’s version of “Come Together” by the Beatles a lot. I’ve also been listening to the In the Heights soundtrack a lot ever since I saw the movie, so “96,000” and “Carnaval Del Barrio” on repeat when I’m running, in the shower, in the car. You name the action and I’m listening to those songs in the background.
Are there any releases you have planned in the near future?
That’s always such a scary question because it feels like the future is always changing. For the immediate future, I’m moving to Los Angeles, California at the end of the summer. And in terms of music, my plan is to continue chasing song-writing and singing as full heartedly as I can, keep releasing new music, and start performing more sets to build a fan base. I also see a lot more recordings in my future which makes me really excited, and pushes me out of my comfort zone of just singing songs with my guitar live. I have a song “Animals” coming out soon, so definitely keep your eye out for the release date for that. Nonetheless, no matter what the future holds, singing and songwriting will always be a part of my life.
Check out Nia CC’s latest release, ‘Monsters’ below.
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