Photography: Tiffany Nicholson
Creative Direction: Alexandra Weiss
Styling: Jessica Roberts
Hair: David Cruz with Kevin Murphy
Makeup: Amanda Wilson with Milk Makeup
NIIA isn’t your average pop star. A classically trained pianist and jazz musician, the New York-based songstress crafts soulful bangers with a hint of ‘90s R&B. Her long-awaited debut album fuses technical ability with the catchiness of hip-hop production to deliver a poetic treatise on love and heartbreak. Through layered harmonies, the singer bares it all, voicing her innermost thoughts and insecurities. But that honesty doesn’t just relate to the album—NIIA brings depth and raw authenticity to everything she does. That’s what makes I so powerful. In a world of Insta-celebrities and shallow personas, NIIA is always herself.
With cutting lyrics and reverb-soaked hooks, I is an ode to the other side of love, an anthem for the crazy girlfriend. NIIA harnesses her vulnerability to create an unapologetic portrait of falling in love—the good, the bad and the undeniably embarrassing. In breathtaking falsetto, the singer weaves an unpredictable yet beautiful narrative that won’t get out of your head—just like all the best relationships.
BULLETT caught up with the singer to talk about feminism, her first album and finding her voice.
I went into making the album having this whole idea of what I wanted—this feminine, strong woman album. But it ended up all about me being this crazy girlfriend who’s jealous and insecure. Now, when I listen to it, I realize it is a strong female perspective, because I’m talking about things I’ve never talked about before. I usually don’t like to be as transparent with my lyrics because I’m a pretty private person. It sounds so cliché, but it just came out of me—I couldn’t not talk about it.
On writing about heartbreak:
I grew up singing jazz standards, which were all about heartbreak, and music was always my outlet because I was so shy—I could sing all these tortured Nina Simone songs, or Sarah Vaughn, or Billie Holiday, and hide behind these painful lyrics. But on this record, I really realized that sadness and and strength aren’t mutually exclusive.
On her lyrics:
As hard as I tried not to be personally invested in this record, I just couldn’t help writing about what I was going through—that’s probably why it took so long to write it. I really admire artists who take you into their experiences, and I really wanted to challenge myself to curate it that way—especially because I couldn’t help it.
On the album’s sound:
I didn’t want to make a retro album—that was really important to me. I just wanted to make something that felt fresh, but also nostalgic—a weird mesh of future and past.
On being onstage:
Ironically, I’ve been super into watching punk bands lately, even though I didn’t get into that music at all was younger. But now, I’m like, ‘Damn, they’re so free and don’t care about anything’—they do, but it’s so relaxed and they’re comfortable with whatever comes out. I’m so captivated by that because I want that freedom. I’m a little restrained and uptight—I always want to hit the notes perfectly, but the reality is, nobody cares if you do. It’s more about how much you’re feeling.
On the challenges of making I:
You just have to trust yourself—it’s a real learning process. Because these songs were so personal to me, I had a real attachment to them, and I had to let that go. But it’s really scary to reveal shit about yourself.
On being a woman in the industry:
At first, it was really intimidating and overwhelming. There’s so many female singers, everyone’s so cool and talented and beautiful—you question, ‘Who am I? Where do I fall? What is my story?’ It’s very competitive. That’s why sense of self and looking inward are so important, being like, ‘This is what I’m going through, I’m going to talk about it, I’m going to scream it, I’m going to do what I want and dress how I want—just totally be myself.’
On being a role model:
It’s important to inspire younger girls, especially in music. We all have our own perspective, but it’s cool when you try to write more personally so they realize someone understands and think, ‘I go through that, too.’
On growing up:
People always say I’m this strong, mysterious artist. But I just don’t really care as much anymore. I went to a private all girls school, which teaches you how to be confident. But it also teaches you to be well mannered and respectful—to be a proper lady. It’s great, because I have good manners, but I’m really trying to embrace being, not necessarily reckless, but more comfortable with myself and what I’m doing, speaking up, talking about the things I’m not supposed to—being a little more punk.
On being herself:
I’m all about mystique. I’m not a public person—not an extrovert. So, no matter how bold and crazy I get, I’ll always be a little mysterious and confusing.