A Chat with NYIKO (02.09.2020)

While he continues to pay homage to his influences, NYIKO pushes the sonic boundaries with his latest single ‘Call the Boys’. Wrapped up in shimmying guitars, the track looks to break down toxic masculinity and all the troubles it brings. This urgent message is neatly contained in a synth-pop single you will not soon forget. We sat down with NYIKO to talk about the single, his future plans, music and much more!

OSR: Was there a moment when you realised that you wanted music to be your career?

NYIKO: There is an audition tape of me from when I was about 8 years old and I’m rapping. At one point I say that I want to be a professional rapper. While my genre interests have changed over time, that’s one of the first moments I can point to where I made it clear that I wanted to pursue a music career.

OSR: Is there a backstory to your single ‘Call the Boys?’

NYIKO: After what felt like a barrage of school shootings in 2018, I was finding difficulty in forming words around how I felt. I read an op-ed written by Michael Ian Black called The Kids Are Not Alright and it seemed to crystalise a lot of the thoughts I was having. The idea that much of the violence in our country is a direct result of the internal suffering and insecurity in men. Suffering and confusion caused by an outdated and dangerous model of masculinity. Setting an example of masculinity that champions empathy, self-love and respect could transform the way our society functions.

OSR: ‘Call the Boys’ features Niles Gregory and Maggie Toth, what prompted you to draw them into this single?

NYIKO: Niles is a long-term friend and collaborator. He’s an incredibly gifted guitar player and he’s been featured on all of the recent singles as well as the upcoming full length. The story with Maggie is special. We were friends back in the early days of college. I hadn’t seen them in years until they reached out to my roommate needing a place to stay for one of their Vagabon tour dates in LA. I had just been working on the song earlier that day so I asked if they’d want to play bass on it. Once I showed them the part they laid it down in just a couple takes while adding their own wonderful style. For me, those bass runs really glue the whole song together.

OSR: What was the creative process for ‘Call the Boys’? Did you start with a melody or lyrics?

NYIKO: Like a lot of my songs, it started with the lyrics and melody together. I essentially voice-memo’d the entire first verse and chorus while I was on my way home. Once I had that, I produced the demo instrumentation and finished writing the rest of the lyrics and melody.

OSR: You also have a full-length album in the works, can you tell us more about this?

NYIKO: It’s called Honesty. It will have 11 songs that were whittled down from about 30 demos written over the course of two years. I wrote, recorded, engineered, produced and mixed it all from my bedroom. It’s the record I’ve been wanting to make my whole life up to this point.

OSR: Are you planning any further releases linked to this single such as an official music video?

NYIKO: I’d love to release a music video for the song, as I think the theme could have a profound visual interpretation. That said, the pandemic has made video shoots difficult, especially lower budget projects requiring several cast and crew members. For now, it’s hard to say when and if a video will be released.

Image credit to Niles Gregory

OSR: Proceeds from the Bandcamp digital sales will be donated to Big Brothers Big Sisters LA, what made you do this?

NYIKO: The mission of BBBS Los Angeles is to empower children to dream big. While researching local organizations, this seemed to be the most in line with the message and goal of the song.

OSR: If you could have people remember one thing about you, what would it be and why?

NYIKO: That I am kind.

OSR: Once the pandemic is over, do you plan to tour?

NYIKO: I am curious to see what touring looks like in a post-COVID-19 world. Once it’s safe to do so, I’ll definitely be setting up tour dates.

OSR: Do you have a message for our readers?

NYIKO: Continue to challenge gender roles. Check-in with yourself. Make sure you are creating a space for everyone to be their honest and true selves. Lift each other up. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed right now, but we always have the capacity to create change and have a positive impact.

Thanks to NYIKO for chatting with us! You can find more about him on his website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Spotify.

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