Interview: Nikita Bassi

‘When I’m singing, I feel my most relaxed, like I can just shut off the world’: says R&B, pop and world music mixologist, Nikita Bassi.

Nikita released her debut single, the silky smooth Satin, earlier this year in anticipation of her EP of the same name.

The five track release traverses a range of genres while incorporating her Punjabi-Indian heritage.

The next single taken from the EP tackles a toxic relationship and is supported by a striking video featuring  drag queen Santi Storm.

The tracks soon caught the attention of the wider media with support from Radio 1 and and a spot BBC Introducing’s brand new showcase Future Tense.

Here we chat to the rising star about the processes behind her debut EP, her inspirations and what she has lined up for the future…

How did you start making music?

I remember my parents saying I had a noticeable addiction to music as kid, even just being weirdly obsessed with having the radio on in the car and asking no one to speak while music was playing. I started piano lessons at five and singing lessons at nine, beginning more classical then branching out later on.

What’s the thinking behind the Satin EP?

Satin was my debut track, released in July. It was the first song I was ever proud of writing and did so at a time when I hadn’t started thinking too much about trends or what ‘would sell.’ At the time, I played around with some production ideas and it just happened. But after that point, I started questioning everything and second-guessing my sound and myself. I eventually came full circle and was like, ‘No’ – that was the track and that was the moment where I was completely fulfilled by and connected to my music. So I went back to the body of work I wrote around that period of time and it felt right to name the EP after Satin.

What’s your songwriting process?

It varies and it tends to go through phases. Sometimes I start with a poem, sometimes with a bassline. It’s random. I produce the tracks to a certain level, it’s definitely not a professional standard or anything, but I like getting the bones down and getting a feel for the track sonically. The basic production is a part of the songwriting for me, unless I’m doing something really stripped down.

How would you describe your music to the uninitiated?

I would describe my music as a little mixing pot of R&B, world, pop and electronic music. I play with a lot of Indian percussion, which represents my heritage (but I also just really like how it sounds.) It’s definitely not confined to Indian instruments. There’s a steel drum in Satin (which Cores added and I went mad for), a Persian santoor I used in Rescue (which I can’t imagine the track without), just whatever feels good for the song. But yeah, I spend hours honing in on the Wordly hints and waiting to hear something that excites me. If I’m feeling cheesy, I say my sound is a celebration of diversity.

How did you come to collaborate with Santi on the video for Rescue?

I met Santi through a friend – they dance together for House of Androgyny. I don’t know why I had an urge to mix a Bollywood vibe with drag in the visuals for Rescue – I could just really picture it in my head. So I asked around for anyone that might be interested in getting involved, while also thinking of the track itself and its meaning. Santi’s style is so bold and fearless, and the track is very, like, ‘I’m gonna do whatever the hell I want here.’ So it all fit together quite naturally. We ended up pulling the video together really last minute on a day when everyone was free. We just had a lot of fun with it and tried something a bit different.

Do you have any plans for a full-length release?

I’ve got some things I want to work on here and there but yes, I 100 percent plan on a full-length release. It’s hard to put into words but I still feel I have a lot to learn and I don’t want to rush anything going forward. Equally I’m loving the journey and it’s been incredibly fulfilling to have my songs out in the World.

Who or what is your biggest inspiration?

A lot of things and people have inspired me in some way. But I guess the over riding thing is just the genuine love I had for music as a kid. It’s a real safe haven for me. I’ve never been able to meditate and genuinely attempted a course then snuck out with boredom. But when I’m singing, I feel my most relaxed, like I can just shut off the world or something, and it’s always been that way. So I owe music a lot, as we all do. I half answered the question there but that’s genuinely a huge part of what keeps me writing and singing.

What’s the best piece of musical advice you’ve been given?

I think it was something that Cores wrote online a while ago! Now I’m answering your question, I realise how much the words have resonated with me recently: ‘The fact you may not fit in is no reflection of your talent. It just means that becoming comfortable with that is part of your journey and it may take you more time. But once you are, it’ll become your super power.’

What do you currently have on repeat?

On repeat right now – St. Vincent, Kyri, Sam Fender, L. Devine, Normani, Kanye.

What’s next for you?

So, I’ve written a Christmas song. I’m going on my local BBC Intro’s Christmas special in November and they asked if I’d sing a couple of Xmas tunes, and it inspired me to write one. Never thought I’d find myself releasing a Christmas song but why not.

Nikita Bassi’s Satin EP is out now.

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