Fast-emerging, multi-faceted singer, producer, model and artist nayahlone stops by to talk to VIPER about Xbox One, early influences and being vulnerable making music.

What five words define your sound?

That’s actually so funny because I had a pretty similar discussion with one of my friends yesterday on FaceTime. He described my sound as “out of pocket.” I don’t know how to properly define that term but I guess it just kinda means out of control, unconventional or a bit wild; breaking the mould of expectation if that makes a bit more sense? I would describe my sound as weird, random, messy and free-spirited, I think that’s what makes my music stand out though because I feel like there’s beauty behind it, beauty even behind the rawness and imperfections, beauty behind the madness; I feel like my sound is game-changing too. Ultimately, I would much rather people listen to my music and come up with their own interpretation of me and my sound.

Tell me something unique about your creative process.

I don’t know whether this is particularly unique or not but I rarely ever put pen to paper, i rarely even plan out my songs for that matter, I kinda just freestyle everything and go with the flow of it. I usually start off with a guitar riff before adding any other elements to the track; drums, synths, vocals, samples etc. I only ever write songs and plan songs out when I have a specific message to send or feeling to portray, my next project should feature a lot more cohesive song writing as well as more thought-out song structures.

Which song of yours would you like people to hear first?

‘J’attenderai’ for sure!

What inspired you to make that song?

I don’t really talk about it often but I wrote ‘J’attenderai’ for my girlfriend at the time, so my ex-girlfriend today. We always felt like we never understood each other. We were in love but we were lost. ‘J’attenderai’ means “I’ll wait for you” in French. It was my way of saying I’ll wait for days to get better for us. It was my way of saying I’ll be there waiting for us to weather the storm, in our case the storm of life, adolescence and all the pressure we had on us growing up as young adults.

What’s the most vulnerable you’ve allowed yourself to be when writing/making music?

I feel like my songs almost represent how I feel in life at the exact moment the song was made. I’ve been through a lot as a person so I feel like no matter what I do my vulnerable side will seep into the music because it’s basically a part of my identity. ‘*blink’ is a vulnerable project. There was a point last year in December where I was in a very vulnerable place, I felt really lonely, a lot of the music I was making around that time was melancholy and dark but beautiful, it’s some of my best work but definitely not ready to put out music like that just yet. I feel like feeling an emotion through music and putting that emotion into storytelling are two different skills in themselves, it’s definitely something I need to work on a bit.

What’s the best/worst experience you’ve had on stage?

I’m quite shy so I’ve only done a small handful of shows, I would say my best experience on stage was a show I did at the Camden Assembly, everyone was just on vibes and energetic, it was my second time on stage too, it was only a crowd of about 60 to 70 people but everyone there made me feel safe, that was the first time I felt like I was made for music. My first performance happened a year ago and it was awful, i was about 19 at the time. When I was done, I got no pop from the crowd, no cheers, no boos, nothing. Literal awkward silence and I just stood on stage and took it with shame. Granted my music was completely different back then. Honestly I’d rather they had boo’d me off the stage.

What is your favourite song to perform?

Right now, ‘sex on fire’ for sure! I have a song on this next project called ‘chop my money’ too. I love performing that song, it’s definitely between those two.

Which artist/song/album made you want to make music?

I wouldn’t say that there was a specific album, song or artist that made me start making music. I love music and get inspired by music everyday. Growing up I would listen to a lot of Young Thug, Radiohead, Gorillaz, Playboi Carti, JPEGMAFIA, Jai Paul and Skepta. Everything But The Girl is my favourite duo of all time but I also loved The Smiths and the Cocteau Twins growing up. I also really love dexter, as in dexter in the newsagent, her music is amazing, she is inspiring.

What’s the meaning behind your name?

Back in the day my dad had bought me an Xbox 360 for Eid, this was around the time I was in year eight. It was the same year the Xbox One came out, back in those days my parents had never bought me a game console as they couldn’t afford to so I didn’t even care if it wasn’t the newest one, I was just glad I finally had an Xbox; to me was amazing. I played it till my thumbs fell off. Every night. I had a group chat with my buddies in it called “Die Alone” and we’d all use it to play Black Ops 2 and a bunch of other games that we shouldn’t have been playing at that age. My gamertag was nayahlone. It was a play-on word mix between the name of our chat and my actual name. Eventually that name became my social media handle and then my artist name.

If you weren’t making music, what would you be doing instead?

Honestly, I don’t know, I’m currently in my final year at university. I feel like my life would’ve just gone the regular academic route if I never did music, music has always been in me so i’ve never really considered a plan B, the only plan for me is making plan A work. I wanted to be a WWE superstar when I was little though, specifically a heel, like I wanted people to boo me when my theme music hit. Ahah! I was a weird little kid.

What’s success to you?

That’s such a tough question because success is really subjective. In my eyes as long as my friends and family are happy or on the path of achieving it, I cannot complain. I wanna see everybody up!

What moment in your life/career forced you to change direction?

Definitely moving out of my parents house, that definitely forced me to be an adult but also act like one and see things from a more mature perspective.

Where can people keep in touch with you?

@nayahlone pretty much everywhere, instagram, tiktok, spotify, all of them!

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