By Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
Goth/pop, soon to be superstar, NYXX, is one of the most promising, talented and visionary new artists in music today. Her uniquely dark and heavy music style mixes elements of industrial, alternative and pop, combined with catchy chorus lines and infectious mesmerizing hooks. You can hear this on her brilliantly composed, 5 track, 2016 EP- ‘Nightmare.’
In addition, NYXX is a true DIY artist; a one-women, music making machine. She writes all of her own material, performs live by herself to recorded tracks, and directs and films her own videos. Impressively, NYXX’s video for the song, “Nightmare,” has over three million views on YouTube.
NYXX is currently working on writing new material to be released soon.
What follows is an exclusive Rock Music Star interview with one of the most uncompromising and revolutionary new artists out today- NYXX.
RockMusicStar: Hello NYXX, I want to start the interview by talking about your unique musical style. I’ve seen it referred to as, “Goth Pop.” How long did it take you to find your musical identity?
N: I mean, it’s been kind of brewing since I started. I went through different variations; I wasn’t happy with the stuff I was writing in college. It was very singer-songwrity. So then, I kind of just swallowed my pride, and decided to collaborate with people. I have control issues. So, once I started collaborating with people, I was able to write the music that was stuck in my head that I don’t know how to program on the computer. Since then, I’ve been learning. That brought me to when I started writing, ‘Nightmare.’ I had, in my head, the sounds that I wanted to make. Luckily, when I first started writing, I was working with my friend, Danny, who understands my language of, “I want it to sound more like this,” and making weird noises with my mouth. So, he can figure it out and help me. But, since then, I’ve kind of upped myself on writing on logic. I taught myself more about the program, and I’ve been producing my own stuff now, so that has given me a bunch of freedom to explore without anybody else’s input.
RMS: That was one of the things that I found pretty impressive, was the fact that you’re self-taught and self-produced. When you perform live, it’s just you and some pre-recorded music tracks; that right there is pretty incredible. Is that intimidating at all, or was it intimidating when you first started? All of the focus is 100% on you.
N: Oh, yeah. I hadn’t played out much before the tour I went on last year, the, “Industrial Pop,” tour. For the first show, I was throwing up before, and I had really bad stage fright. I get really freaked out if I haven’t been playing very often. I was excited, but it is intimidating- just you. I did have a whole set-up, when I started that tour, of how I was going to play it. I wanted to play some aspects of it live, and it just didn’t work. Part of my equipment got fried during the second gig, which was Tiajuana. I was like, “Alright, we’re doing tracks.” I do want more people on stage with me. I’m actually looking to hire a keyboardist, so I’ve been auditioning people for that. Again, I have to release a little bit of control about the live performance. I program my lights, I program exactly how the show goes, like the timing in between them; everything I have meticulously down to time. Having somebody else come in- you have to kind of lean a little bit.
RMS: Not to take this in the wrong way, but would you consider yourself a control freak?
N: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
RMS: That’s not a bad thing. Was there any consideration, in the very beginning, to form a traditional band, with a drummer, bass player, and guitarist? Or were you just like, “No, I want to do it this way?”
N: I’ve never really wanted- I’ve played in like, a duo. I had a band for a little bit in high school. For my solo project, I just want it to be me. In my head, I very much have an idea of what I want my ultimate show to look like. When I first moved out to LA, I auditioned for a band that was very comparable to Circa Survive. I auditioned for a Paramore-type band. I have experience with it, but it’s just that I’m a control freak, so it’s better if it’s just me.
RMS: I could really see more female artists taking this road- not that it’s an easy road to follow- but I can see you paving the way. You have so much going for you. If I was a major record label president, you’d be my number one priority, without a doubt.
N: Thank you so much! You’re making me blush over here. I mean, there are other girls that are out there. There’s a new artist who is under William Control’s record label called, “LVCI”,” and she’s awesome. She’s very pop, more EDM mixed in, but she’s kind of doing the same thing I am. I love that there are so many girls that are out there that are like, “You know what? I don’t need to be solo artist begging a record label to get me in sessions. I’m going to do it myself.” I love that. If you’re a female, it doesn’t excuse you from musicianship. You’ve gotta earn your strife; it sucks, but you gotta.
RMS: I want to talk about your first release, the EP, ‘Nightmare,’ which you released in 2016. There are five songs on it. You released the, “Wicked,” video, which did really well. Then, you released, “Nightmare,” which was just unbelievable- 2.9 million hits to date on that. How much of a surprise for you was that? That must be great gratification, to have that many hits for an artist that is brand new, doing it herself. That’s incredible.
N: Thank you, thank you so much. It’s weird, because all of this started in the past year. Yes, I’m a new artist and I haven’t been in a band that has done well before, or anything. So, I’m kind of learning and navigating how to deal with the public, and how to deal with fans, and how to run a business. I’ve been preparing for it, but once it just happens, you’re like, “Oh, now I have to do it.” I had a lot of insecurities about being an artist and a singer, and to have my little EP that I recorded in my bedroom, in my closet, and at a friend’s house be doing as well as it is, with not even pushing it that hard, is so gratifying. It makes me feel really good, that I’m on the right track, that I kind of made (laughs).
RMS: Were there any major labels that came to you, or did you shop your EP to any labels, at all?
N: No. I’ve had a couple of different offers, but they just haven’t suited me. I’m also super inspired by Chance the Rapper’s story. He’s the first fully independent artist to get a Grammy without any label. I’m like, “You know what? I think I’m gonna try to do that, but as a female.” That would be awesome. If a label came to me, and the offer was right, of course I would consider it, but right now, I’ve been offered publishing deal and a distribution deal, but neither really fit where I am with my career yet. With one of them, I had to tell them, “You know what, I’m a year into actually getting some traction. I don’t want to sign any deals. I want to develop myself as an artist and not have anybody tell me what I should sound like.”
RMS: That’s one of the stumbling blocks that young artists get- they’re so eager to sign that contract, and then they get so screwed on that contract down the road. They really regret it. It’s good that you’re aware of that, and you’re doing it on your own terms.
N: I’ve been screwed over many-a-times, so I’ve learned to be a little bit more weary. It’s very strange. Growing up, you’re like, “I want to be a pop star! I wanna get signed!” And that was the goal for so many years, up until maybe two years ago. I was like, “I wanna be signed to a major label. I wanna be signed.” Now I’m like, “I’m kinda doing it right now, and I’m kind of okay with it.” So, I’m just going to keep going until I actually really need help. It’s more rewarding to do it yourself, and build it.
RMS: Absolutely. You’re responsible for 100% of your success right now.
N: Thank you. I have other people helping me and pushing me. Daniel Graves, he puts me on everything, and he really pushes. He’s definitely helped me break into the industrial scene and the goth scene, for sure.
RMS: Have there been any plans to go out on tour? I know you just released the video for the song, “Voodoo,” three months ago. Any plans to go out on tour to promote it? Are you waiting for more songs to have a full-length release?
N: Next month I’m launching a Patreon to help fund a full-length album. Well, I’m promising a fat EP- like an eight song EP- but I have so many that I’ve already started that I’m in love with and I can’t part with yet, that it might turn into a full-length. I’m pretty excited about it. I’m motivated, and I’m hoping to get on tour in like, October or November because I miss it and I wanna do it. I’m actually meeting with an agent today to possibly sign on and get the tour rolling. I have an idea of people I would wanna ask to go with me. I’ve got stuff brewing.
RMS: So you’re looking at a headlining tour?
N: Not for me. I’m not at that point yet. By the end of this year, I would like to do a west coast couple of show thing. I would really love to do another six-week tour and see where that goes, but I’m not anywhere near a headliner yet. I just want to carry something that’s really special and cool. I was even thinking of like, and all-female tour. So, we’ll see.
RMS: That would be awesome.
N: Not make it like a, “Girl power!” More like, “Look at these badass bitches.”
RMS: Your songwriting is the biggest part of it; you’re a great songwriter. That’s why so many people love your music. What is the process like, for you? Do you do the music first? Do you have a lyrical idea first, and write the music around that? Is it different for each song?
N: It’s pretty different for each song. Sometimes I have songs started- for instance, “Voodoo”- I had an idea, or a sketch of a song, that’s what I call it. It has to be produced and made to sound good. It’s a sketch of my song. I’ll either write a melody along to it. For instance, for that song, I brought into Daniel like, “I have this one started, and this one…. What do you think we could work on?” We picked one of the beats I already had going; actually, the melody came from a song I wrote a few years prior that never got finished. So, it was easy, how that melded together perfectly. Now, I have 14 different things going that either have beats, or just ideas of a beat, or melody, verse and chorus, or just verse- it’s all over the place. I have a notebook that I carry incessantly with me, and I’ll write like, key words or things I hear, or just ideas. It’s just a jumbled mess in front of me right now.
RMS: Songwriter’s sometimes have the hurtle of “Writer’s Block.” Have you ever experienced that yourself?
N: Of course, I get writer’s block. I get it really bad, too, where I’ll just sit down and my mind is just blank. I’ll try everything all day to get something out, and it just doesn’t happen. I follow Rebel Society a lot; they’re more creative writing-based with poetry and stuff like that. They talk about how there is no such thing as, “Writer’s Block.” It’s a muscle, you have to use it every day. So, every month I try to do their 30-day writing workshop. I’ll print out their materials and do that every month. It’s a struggle, but sometimes, you just gotta force your way through it. I could sit here and be like, “Oh, I have writer’s block today, I can’t do anything.” Then, another week goes by where I haven’t written anything. I beat myself up if I don’t get work done, so I at least try to make some sort of improvement on something every day.
RMS: I want to discuss the video, “Nightmare,” again. Incredible response to that. Stunning video. Amazing song. Can you just tell us some of the background behind the video? Maybe tell us some cool things that happened, or any stories for that particular one.
N: That was the first music video, obviously, I’ve ever shot. “Wicked,” was done by my friend, Kristen, for her film school. We ended up posting it, and now that everything has gained traction, that has, as well. I’ve done little video work here and there before that, but, “Nightmare,” was my first actual cohesive video. I shot it in my apartment, in my living room and my hallway. It was me and my friend David. I had those white contacts in. I didn’t buy the ones that are mesh, by accident. So they were blind. I couldn’t see anything. So, I’m in the hallway trying to do all of this performance, and he is just yelling at me like, “What are you doing? Where are you looking?” I’m like, “I don’t know! I can’ see!” That was pretty fun. We also set off the fire alarm in my building, because I didn’t know that fog set off the fire alarm; that was a little trial and error. I have the plans for it somewhere; I always draw everything up. It, of course, came out different in the end than I wanted it to. So have all of the other videos. That was a good one. That one, I had fun filming.
RMS: I love, “Voodoo,” too; what a catchy song and a great video. Your image changed a little bit in this one.
N: Yeah, I got bored with my hair. I went blonde and fried it. Now it’s short, and I just cry every day (laughs).
RMS: It’s a cool look.
N: Thank. It’s since gone back to black. It’s a short little mullet weird thing right now. I’ve learned my lesson- I don’t need to be blonde (laughs).
RMS: One of the interesting things that I read about you is that you are writing, or that you have written with Stephen Pearcy of Ratt. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
N: His new solo album is pretty much done, and mine is just the last song to be recorded. He messaged me, and I was like, “This can’t be real. Who is this jokester?” We were out somewhere- me and my boyfriend, and I’m just like, “I think the singer of Ratt just messaged me.” And he was like, “What?!” I was like, “He wants to write with me!” It was crazy, because I’ve listened to Ratt; I love 80s hair metal. That was kind of crazy. He gave me a couple of songs to choose from. He actually hasn’t heard my version of it yet. I’m excited to get in there and show him, and see what he thinks.
RMS: I can’t wait to hear that collaboration. That’s going to be incredible.
N: Mind blowing. I was kind of just like, “Ok… that’s weird.”
RMS: I have a feeling it’s not going to stop at Stephen Pearcy. I think you’re going to be getting a lot more offers down the road.
N: Oh, I hope so. That would be so much fun. I have a list of people I’d love to collaborate with.
RMS: Would you be happy with just being a writer and collaborator, and writing songs that get millions of hits, living in a mansion? Or are you pretty much, “I want to do it on my own. I want to be my own artist.”
N: I have always wanted to be my own artist. I actually had a friend of mine, when I first moved to LA ask me that. The song is terrible as I listen back on it now- one of the first songs I wrote with a producer here- I showed it to him, and he goes, “It sounds like Britney Spears trying to do a cover.” I was like, “That’s kind of rude. That’s just how my voice sounds.” He said something about how he doesn’t think I could be my own artist, and that I should consider being ok with just being a songwriter, and 10 years down the road, I’d be ok with that. I told him, “Absolutely not.” There’s no Plan B for me. This is what I do. I don’t know, it’s weird to sing other people’s songs like that. It’s even weird for me to just come in and sing the part for Rhythm Control because I didn’t write any of it. Well, I wrote part of it, but for the most part, Daniel had already done it. It’s weird, coming in and just using my vocals and not my songwriting. That’s a long-winded response. I wanna do it myself.
RMS: Who are some of your influences growing up? You already mentioned the glam metal scene from the 80s. Are there any other artists? Did you like Britney Spears, at all?
N: Oh, yeah. Since I was young- like a baby- I was obsessed with Richard Marx and Michael Jackson and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Once I started to form my own like, “This isn’t what my mom is showing me or what I’m used to,” I loved Shakira- the way she sings and her vocal techniques. And, of course, Britney Spears. She’s awesome. I remember many days, singing her and Alanis Morissette. Then, in high school, punk and hardcore, and a little bit of progressive rock. But, for the most part, Stevie Ray Vaughn, blues; stripped-down blues, I love. Britney Spears is a huge influence, obviously. I’ll listen to somebody and I’ll be like, “Oh, she kind of sounds like me. That’s kind of cool.”
RMS: You’re based out of LA, right?
RMS: What is the music scene like in LA, nowadays?
N: I’m kind of a hermit; I don’t really go out. I work part-time at a night club, and it’s primarily top 40s rappers coming in, or like celebrities. As far as live music, there’s a healthy scene, I think. I never get to go to nearly as many shows as I want to. It’s just full of amazing, ridiculous musicians playing super small, intimate shows. You can catch really big acts in small venues. I mean, it’s LA, so you can even just see someone walking down the street, and you’re like, “Oh my God!” It’s very weird. It’s doing well. As far as my radar, there’s a big goth scene here; huge. A lot of electronica. A lot of experimental, and a lot of classic rock, if that makes sense. My friends play in a really cool, almost psychedelic band. I think it’s smarter music that’s being produced, now.
RMS: Nyxx, I want to thank you so much for your time. I have to admit, I’ve only been a fan of your music for a few weeks now, but I’m going to stick with it for life, I think. You’re amazing, you have a lot of potential, and I expect to see you on the top of the charts one of these days.
N: Thank you so much!
For more on NYXX, please visit www.nyxxnyxxnyxx.com
Special thanks to Dana Kaiser for her awesome transcription of this interview!