Nicki Nicole (Rosario, Argentina, 2000) is one of the most popular figures of the latest generation of Argentine pop music. Her songs accumulate millions of plays on Youtube and Spotify, she appeared on Jimmy Fallon's TV show and has been the first artist from her country to be part of the Coachella lineup. On July 15 she visits Noches del Botánico to present Alma (2023), an eclectic third album, influenced by pop, r'n'b, tango, bolero or electronica, in which she has collaborations with musicians like Rels B. He tells us about it in a zoom interview.
The first impression when you start listening to the album, especially knowing that it is called Alma, is that it has some soul, although in reality it has many other styles.
The truth is that Alma is born from what I am, in essence, and it has a lot to do with different styles in music. I like to listen to jazz, soul, r'n'b or hip hop, and the truth is that when doing collaborations and making music, I don't set limits for myself either. I try to evolve through music and try different genres, and if this album was going to be called Alma, it has to be one hundred percent who I am, I have to put all that I like, put my favorite artists in it too, and I loved to start with a song like "Ya no", which I feel that you listen to it and it takes you on a journey from beginning to end through the whole album.
Do you feel that you have ever been pigeonholed into any particular style?
There are many people who to this day tell me that I do trap (laughs). But I think they are older people who don't really listen to the artist. They see a 22 year old like me and they say "well, he's in the trap camp, he does trap". I understand that too. But that's not what gets me out of genres. I can do a cumbia with Los Ángeles Azules or an afro with Rels B and I do it because I feel like it, you see, I never did it because of other things. And that makes me happy.
This album comes out of a complicated moment in your life. Has it helped you to overcome a complicated stage?
At the time when I started doing it, I was very little connected with myself, in a moment of very little self-confidence, with little self-esteem, also going through losses of people I loved very much. And the truth is that, through music, I feel that I did a lot of catharsis, and that I healed many things. And nothing makes me happier than this album coming out. And, as it was good for me, may it be as good for the people. People's reception is incredible. I released it so that they would understand the concept, so that it could reach them. And it did. So it's a pleasure.
I am surprised about your self-esteem, because you are only 22 years old and have a tremendous international projection. I would have taken for granted that if there was anything you had to spare it was that, self-esteem.
Actually, the problem is not musical, but more personal. When we come to a loss of a love we feel insecure, and I think it is also part of the mourning, so the album was very useful for me as a catharsis.
The album features collaborations with Milo J, Young Miko, Rels B and YSY A. How did they come about? Were they born from songs that you had already outlined previously or did they emerge later?
There are two and two. Two songs, which are "Dispara" with Milo J and "qué le pasa conmigo?" with Rels B, which I had already planned with the artists. In fact, with Rels B I got together in the studio to do it, and with Milo J, who is also Argentinean, I did the song and then he came to the studio to finish it. With YSY A, who is Argentinian, with whom I did "Caen las estrellas", I had the song and I wanted to count on him, but it wasn't so planned because I didn't know if he was going to say yes. And with Young Miko, who is from Puerto Rico, it's a song, "8 AM", which was not going to be on the album, and at the last minute he came to Lollapalooza in Argentina and the collaboration happened. The truth is that, luckily, I was able to achieve it with the artists I listen to the most now, and the concept of Alma came out, which they loved.
Did any of them surprise you in particular?
I think everyone, but who I've been listening to for the longest time is Rels B. I've been listening to him since 2017, and it's really crazy when an artist who I listened to so much is doing a song with me in the studio. And on top of that, two weeks after releasing it, he played at the Foro Sol in Mexico and invited me to sing this song live and it was crazy. I was there 50% as a fan and 50% as an artist, because the truth is that I admire him a lot and seeing him sing for 60,000 people was crazy. I try to enjoy these crazy things in life, which put me in front of people who are part of my inspiration and my history. Because I listened to Rels B so much, it's like you see him a little bit as part of your family. The artists you listen to a lot, you love them even if you don't know them. And today, being friends with Rels, I feel that I admire him even more, because I see the effort behind each of his projects.
What music are you listening to lately?
Well, the truth is that I'm one of those who always listen to the same thing (laughs). I listen a lot to Amy Winehouse, Lauryn Hill, a lot of jazz... of the more recent artists, the other day I was at Primavera Sound seeing Rosalía in Barcelona, and although I had already seen her twice before, it's always like the first time, it's always a pleasure. I think there's nothing nicer than seeing an artist playing in your city. It's like there's magic when that happens, and the truth is that it inspires me a lot. Whenever I finish seeing a show I feel like playing. I'm already counting the days to play in Madrid.
Do you think Alma is your most stylistically varied album?
I think that in terms of sound, yes. The truth is that it is like a much more experimental search, and I feel that it is the album that most represents me personally.
Also the number of plays of your songs on Spotify, for example, is very uneven. You never know how the songs are going to perform, do you?
Well, an album is a growing body of work, and it's a progressive thing. And also, obviously, some songs came out a few days earlier and the promotions are different for singles or for full albums. Some are still waiting for their videos to come out. With so much music, you have to be there to reach people, but it's going very well. In Argentina it is number 1, so we are enjoying it.
I wanted to ask you about your famous collaboration with Bizarrap three years ago, in their Music Session #13. Then came Quevedo or Shakira, among many others. What do you think is his secret for his collaborations with other musicians to be so successful?
I think he has a very good strategy as a producer. What he likes the most is to take the artists he likes to another level. Take them out of their comfort zone. At least that's what he did with me when we did the Music Session. And also give them the freedom to do what they want to do. He enjoys it and I think that's the most important thing, and what people notice. That's why it's all so genuine, you see?
Are there any musicians you would like to collaborate with?
From Spain, I really like Bad Gyal. I love her. The truth is that I would like to make a song with her.
How do you feel in Spain and with its public?
The truth is that every time I come here I feel at home. It generated a bond with the people of Spain that I do not know how to explain. I don't feel like I'm in another country when I'm singing here. The people are very respectful and dedicated to the show, and I enjoy it one hundred percent. It is an audience that is not afraid of not singing any song. They give their all, and I love that. It's always a pleasure to be here.
In fact, the public español also sings in English, even if they are not very fluent in it.
Yes, it's amazing. All the languages. They sing everything, they dance everything. The truth is that it is always a pleasure to be here.
What kind of show can we expect on July 15 at Noches del Botánico?
The truth is that everything is quite a surprise, because with this new album we are doing a new show, which goes hand in hand with an experience. That people can come to see a play, which is what Alma is. And that they can understand the concept embodied in the show, where we are going to connect a lot, obviously, with the public and with the sounds. What I am as an artist more than Alma, but with an album so serious and so personal that we want to take it to the show so that it will be like that, and have many surprises, great emotions and a connection with the people. We are rehearsing a lot, so it's going to be amazing.
Since you mentioned Alma as a concept, I wanted to know what your opinion is of the album as a format.
I feel that albums are fundamental for me. At least, I love to listen to albums by my favorite artists, and I don't usually settle for just one single. It's true that everything goes very fast, that's why the structures of the songs on the album are very different from the previous ones. In fact, the album is half an hour long. For that purpose and with that point in mind. Before, the songs were much longer. But I don't think there is no need to release more albums. And I think that in order to position yourself or mark an identity, it is key to have albums.
First Argentinean to perform at Coachella and among the ten most listened to Argentinean artists in streaming. Doesn't it give you a certain vertigo to be so popular at only 22 years old?
More than vertigo, I do feel a great responsibility. But I take it very seriously. I'm not afraid of having that responsibility. Before, when I was 18 or 19 years old, which was not so long ago, but it was all very sudden, I did feel that pressure. Not only do we have a great responsibility in music, but many people listen to our messages and the things we share, artists are also like a means of communication, and that responsibility has to be taken seriously. For the public. But I'm not afraid of it anymore. It's not a negative thing.
You would dream of being where you are now when you were a child.
Yes, of course I dreamed about it. To live from what I love, and for people to enjoy it, is a pleasure.