Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Nikka Costa: Nothing Compares 2 Nikka Costa

Nikka Costa
Nikka Costa

On her new album, “Nikka & Strings: Underneath and In Between”, flame-haired soul vixen, Nikka Costa strips down some of her all time favourite songs; re-arranging them for a string quartet and live band. Inspired by the orchestral arrangements of her late father Don Costa, who during his own career arranged music for icons including Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, Nikka's serves up a new sonic slant on her own original tracks alongside some classic covers. While paying homage to her musical lineage and her own collaborations, Nikka presents an album with a palpable intimacy that is both raw and deeply personal. The definition of a veteran - Costa's first song was recorded by age five, with her debut album released by age of eight. For Nikka, music was clearly the right path but it wasn't until the release of 2001's “Everybody Got Their Something” that Costa found mainstream success. The critically acclaimed album which featured the hits “Like A Feather” and “Push & Pull, a song which later became her now legendary live duet with Prince. Catapulted to fame, Nikka began touring worldwide with the likes of Erykah Badu and D'Angelo. Albums including “Can't Never Did Nothin’”, “Pebble To A Pearl” and more recently the “Pro Whoa E.P.” also dropped while Nikka continued to establish herself as an in-demand songwriter, writing for Prince, Eric Clapton and Mark Ronson. Now Nikka chats with B&S about her life in music, her new project and everything underneath and in between.

“We'd been doing “Nothing Compares 2 U” in live shows before Prince passed away and we were excited for him to hear our version, but during the course of the months that we were doing the shows he did pass away, unfortunately”, Nikka notes about the recording of the iconic Prince penned song. “Then the song took on a deeper meaning for me obviously and also a deeper meaning for the audience so I just felt like I wanted to include it on the record, it's such a cool version and a beautiful version, we thought - people were really appreciating it at the shows. But the day of recording was intense. We recorded the whole record in one day so we were moving fast through these songs, doing two or three takes and then moving on. It was a special time, it was kind of weird and emotional for everyone. There were a few people in the control room that had a little tear…I was trying to sing and not cry but that's part of making art, coming from a truthful place”.

The new album, recorded in one day, features a string quartet and a close circle of musicians and friends including Jamie Lidell and Nikka's husband, producer Justin Stanley. “There was only a few moments of stress”, Costa says of the recording process. “There were a few songs that were difficult and some songs that didn't really work, so we would just move on and ‘those songs’ end up on the record. It was a day we didn't think about too much because I think if we'd have thought about it, we probably would have chickened out. We really only had enough money to record in one day so we had to get it done but we'd been doing shows so we did it like a live performance”.

Nikka, formerly signed to Virgin and Stax Records, has released the latest project with the help of crowd funding website, Pledge Music. She explains “I didn't have a record deal and I wasn't even planning on this being a record. We were doing shows and people were responding so well, so we thought we should record this. Without a label, there's no way to afford to record and my manager suggested doing a crowd funding thing, I said “Oh, God I feel so weird asking the fans for money” so I had to find a funny angle. (In the add asking for donations) I was trying to find a way that felt very real to me and how I feel about it so I was just like “OK, just give me your money” (laughs) In the end it's really a beautiful exchange, it makes you so in touch with your fans. I've never had so much connection with them (before) it's a really cool thing because the fans feel a real part of it”.

You can read more from our interview with Nikka Costa in the current issue of Blues & Soul Magazine - click the link below to order straight from our shop or read on for high street retailer details.

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Words Karen Lawler

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