Naïka’s venture into clothing can be looked at as an inevitable follow up to her budding music career; both had a profound impact on her childhood upbringing. More on that to come though. Aside from her hit song, “Sauce,” which Apple help go viral after featuring the track in a recent iPhone 12 advert, the singer/songwriter is known for embracing art on a widespread, global scale. Naïka travelled often as child, having toured though Africa, the South Pacific, Europe and the Caribbean before settling in the U.S. at the age of 16. The lens in which she viewed the world provided a glimpse into what her contemporaries were doing thousands of miles away. This exploratory study of how other communities made music formed the basis of Naïka’s artistry, and is considered the catalyst to her signature “World Pop” sound. The term not only reflects the admiration she has for other genres of music, but her willingness to sing in English, French and Haitian Creole.
Her journey into music is a lengthy one involving everything, from a noted institution, a musical bootcamp, and a record label contract with plenty of professional pitstops sprinkled in between. Naïka’s time at the Berklee College of Music was an eye-opening experience that almost dwarfed her willingness to create. Feelings of inadequacy built from comparing her artistic skill set from that of others sent her confidence in downward spiral towards the bottom. Times of turmoil can stifle creative output, however, can be used as a motivational tool to push past oncoming obstacles. The talented crooner ventured out to Los Angeles immediately following graduation, where she signed her first record deal and released her debut EP, dubbed Lost In Paradïse.
Split into two separate sections, Part 1 of Lost In Paradïse summarizes Naïka’s path to enlightenment. Songs like “Vultures” and “African Sun” provide a soundtrack to the insecurity Naika learned to navigate through en route to arriving in paradise. Part 2 concludes her soul-searching path to freedom, as evidenced through such tracks as “Sauce” and “For Gerard.” As a whole, Lost in Paradise is a worthy introduction to an artist keen on the virtues of unity. “My dream is to bring people together through my music. I want to shatter stigmas and to encourage human connection that goes beyond religion, ethnicity, and gender,” explains Naïka about her music.
The album did more than solidify Naïka’s place within music; it provided a platform for her capsule collection to stand on. Much like her affection for music, the singer harbors fond memories of clothing as a youngster growing up in Haiti. “I don’t know how to sew (yet), but I’ve always loved wrapping myself in fabric to create different outfits ever since I was a child. My grandma used to sell fabric and textiles in Haïti, so whenever we would visit her I would go in her room and grab my favorite fabric samples and wrap them around myself to put on fashion shows for my family and their friends,” Naïka tells us in response to her feelings on style. Spread out over an assemblage of streetwear staples are designs that address specific themes and songs from the album. Cover art, set lists, song names and thematic tones punch through each piece, resulting in a collection that is as expressive as is respectful.
urbancoolab had the chance to go one-on-one with Naïka to talk about her journey, inspirations and future goals.
Can you tell us about your craft and your journey as an artist?
My name is Naïka, I am an artist, singer/songwriter. I describe my sound as “world-pop” because it reflects a mix of my love for pop music with the different “world” music I grew up with. I reflect this by singing in my other languages which are French and Haitian Creole, and by using sonic influences from Caribbean, Afro- inspired, and French music.
What motivates you to create/do what you do?
I have been a creative ever since I could remember. It has always been my outlet and my way of expressing myself. Maybe it’s the Pisces in me, but I definitely live in my own little world that I’ve created in my head.
How did your journey as a creator begin?
I don’t know if I can pin point a specific moment as to when my journey began. Like I said, creativity has been something within me for as long as I can remember. I used to be quite shy as a kid, but with a very vivid imagination. Despite my shyness, I was obsessive when it came to putting together shows for my family and friends, whether it be singing or acting. Music has accompanied me throughout my life and has always been my great love. As I grew older, I started developing my singing and songwriting skills more and more on my own. Looking back, I do wish I had access to some type of mentorship because I didn’t have anyone in my surroundings that shared my passion, but I kept pushing and practicing. I later got into a music school for college, and this was my first time being around other like-minded creatives. I learned so much through my peers and surrounding, and was able to hone into my craft, develop my sound, and learn to find myself and grow as an artist.
What goals/objectives do you hope to accomplish with your craft?
I hope to reach people across the globe so that I am playing stadium world tours in the next couple of years. I want my music to connect with people from everywhere around the world across borders, and to bring a cathartic sense of togetherness through my songs.
What piece of advice you would give to someone following a similar story/path?
Persistence and growth are key. I think it’s important to keep pushing yourself to grow, and strive to be the best artist you can be. Take risks. I’m personally always pushing myself and my limits, I never want to be stagnant.
What is the main inspiration behind your capsule collection?
The inspiration behind the capsule collection is from my debut EP project called ‘Lost in Paradïse, Part I and II’. We put together different designs based on the theme of the EP and lyrics from the songs.
How does it tie in to your brand story?
It’s definitely a reflection of who I am, both in the music and the new collection. Both of my parents come from islands, and I grew up moving a lot, for the most part in countries that had astonishing natural beauty, so I have always had a very strong connection with nature. I find that I am the most whole when I submerge myself in it. When I was younger I lived in Vanuatu, in the South Pacific for 4 years. I think this is where my love for flowers and tropical plants came about, because living on the island my mom and I would always wear flower crowns on the daily that we would sew together in the kitchen. Whenever we would have people over for lunch and dinner, we would set up the table with with palm leaves, flowers, candles, and I would go in the garden and pick everything to set the table. My mom and I still do to this to this day. I don’t know how to sew (yet), but I’ve always loved wrapping myself in fabric to create different outfits ever since I was a child. My grandma used to sell fabric and textiles in Haïti, so whenever we would visit her I would go in her room and grab my favorite fabric samples and wrap them around myself to put on fashion shows for my family and their friends. I also have a bit of an old soul, so my brand overall carries a tropical / vintage/ timeless feel.
What was it like building your collection through artificial intelligence?
I’ve been fascinated by AI for some time now, and find it so interesting to see how it is changing the world as we know it. When it was first brought to my attention that the collection would be created through artificial intelligence, I was very curious and excited to see the result. It still blows my mind honestly.
What are thoughts on the increasing intersection between technology and fashion?
I think the increasing intersection with technology and every sector around us is crazy. I see the world and humankind changing in such a rapid way, and I find it so fascinating. A little scary, but fascinating haha. I’m very excited to see how technology will influence fashion in the next decade, and curious to see what the creative relationship will look like between humans and AI.