London-based R&B singer, songwriter and artist, Nia Chennai, follows up her recent single ‘So Pretty When You Cry’ with this VIPER Presents. Get familiar with her via this Viper Interview…

What five words define your sound?

“Nia-soul,” Smooth, Soulful, Fresh and Nostalgic.

Tell me something unique about your creative process?

My studio prep begins the night before, with some good sleep and a cup of tea in the morning to warm up my vocals. Once in the studio, I always start with a little catch-up with the producer to match our vibes. As they start making the beat, I dive into writing, keeping it organic and candid. After that, I lay down my vocals. By the end of the session, I have a demo that I get to rinse for the next eight months before everyone else gets to hear it!

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

It’s between ’So Pretty When You Cry’ cause it’s my new baby and ‘Since We Ain’t Together’ because that’s the song that got me recognised and it’s definitely a fan favourite.

What inspired you to make that song?

With both songs, I wanted to spill my thoughts on a relationship that turned sour, finding it rather therapeutic to let off some steam through my music. Ultimately, I’m an advocate for self-love and strive to make self-respect sound sweet.

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

There’s some unreleased stuff that’s super deep, but ‘Homage to My Hip-Dips’, the first track of my EP ‘Diary Is A Waste of Paper’, is about social pressures and body image. When I wrote it, I told myself I was writing it as a message to my younger sister. Although a conversation we had triggered it, ultimately, I needed to hear what I wrote for my own self-confidence, my self worth. At the time, I didn’t have a song or outlet that gave me that sonic hug like that track does.

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

My headline show was like a movie. I felt so alive in that moment hearing all of my supporters sing my songs word for word back to me but it wasn’t just that, I could see how much it meant to them. That was such a achievement for me. However, my worst moment was when my bamboo earrings bounced out my ear off into the crowd, and I had to try to play it off cool.

What is your favourite song to perform?

I can’t decide! ‘Tea Lady’, ‘Since We Ain’t Together’ and ‘S.I.S’ are definitely my top three. The crowd is always lit.

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

There is so many but so name a few, ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’, ‘Frank’ – Amy Winehouse, ‘Bday’ – Beyonce, Amerie, Erykah Badu, Tina Turner. Each of those women did something that sparked the artist in me.

What’s the meaning behind your name?

Nia Chennai is my real first and middle name, but Nia means “purpose” and I’d like to think that I’m putting that to work in my music. For the record, my name is pronounced “Nee-Ya Shen-Nay.” There’s been many mispronunciations so I feel I have to set the record straight as often as possible [laughs].

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

I would definitely be a food taster, I’m a foodie through and through. If not I’d work in fashion marketing as your girl is graduate #BeautyAndBrains!

What’s success to you? 

Success to me means becoming the best I can be in every aspect of my musical journey. I envision building on my fan base of ‘Nia-Soul’ lovers creating a community, But ultimately, I want to make a lasting impact on the culture, particularly in the UK , and establish a place in musical history globally and being able to positively impact someone’s life and give a voice to those who share similar experiences as mine is success for me.

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

This last year and a half has been a whirlwind. Between my health conditions and music, it has definitely given me time to reflect and see the path I want to pursue, and what I stand for, especially when it comes to those disadvantaged. Follow me on @niachennai across all social media platforms!

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