Jazz music is a genre that doesn’t get as much attention as it should. The music is more than just words or a sound, it’s the definition of soul. It’s music that makes you feel and creeps deep inside you, without you even knowing it. Some of the most powerful artists and musicians come from Jazz, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong and even Amy Winehouse.
Jazz artists, have something to say and know a lot about what they are saying. They somehow instill history and wisdom into a rhythm that has the listener swaying and dancing to the music. Nikki Y is a Canadian Jazz-Pop singer/songwriter who has a voice so powerful, seasoned and calming for a young 23-year-old. She has worked with Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder.
It’s no suprise that her voice has given her extraodinary opportunities like singing at a Jazz Festival at just 12 years old!
Since then, Nikki Y (née Yanofsky) has released two studio albums, 2014’s Little Secret (executive-produced by Quincy Jones) and four years earlier, her self-titled album (produced by the legendary Phil Ramone) which went platinum in Canada. But with her newest release, the Solid Gold EP, Nikki is finally getting personal. The album chronicles Nikki’s relationship with her longtime boyfriend, broaching the topic of love through a spectrum of themes and sounds, her emotions as in-the-moment as possible. “My goal was to have no goal,” she says. “Last record, I wanted to bridge pop and jazz. This time, I wanted to get introspective—however that came out. It’s more about voice and not about a genre.”
One of Solid Gold EP’s greatest achievements is its lightning-in-a-bottle ability to, at once, capture her technical prowess and vocal soulfulness. Much of that is a credit to her collaborator Wyclef Jean, who co-produced the album alongside Nikki. “The first time I worked with him, I was 13,” she says of Wyclef, whom she met at a charity event. (Nikki, who’s raised more than $10 million for charities, continues to devote herself to causes such as The Children’s Wish Foundation, The Montreal Children’s Hospital, and MusiCounts.) “He got me, not just my voice. After I worked on ‘Me, Myself, and I’ with him, I knew I had to do the whole album with him.”
“I’ll never forget the first song I ever wrote,” Nikki says. She was just seven years old. “I asked my parents, ‘What did The Beatles write about?’ They said, ‘They wrote about what they feel and what they see.’” So she wrote a song about the fairies on her purple pajamas. “I always felt different when I was young. Kids my age were hanging out together. But I would listen to music in the kitchen and teach myself songs. I was connecting to these songs.” Throughout her career, Nikki has endeavored to create music that would have the same impact on others. “I always had a really old soul,” she says. “And now, I feel like I’m growing into it.”
Here’s a song called “Miss You When I’m Drunk” that Nikki tells Variety Beat she wrote in the shower!
I wrote this song about an experience I had… but what’s hilarious is that I wrote it in the shower! If you were to hear the original voice memo of it, you’d hear the water running in the background. I find it super playful and fun, maybe that’s because those are the types of songs I sing when I’m shampooing my hair, haha!
LISTEN TO NIKKI Y’s “MISS YOU WHEN I’M DRUNK”