Born and raised in South Florida, singer-songwriter Neila is invading the music capital of Atlanta, GA with her irresistible voice and eye-grabbing visuals.
With heavy influences ranging from artists like Aaliyah and Micheal Jackson to Frank Ocean, Neila’s music reaches undiscovered planets. In 2018, she unveiled her debut EP, Sage, which was soon followed up by the 2019 full-length release Venus. Both projects serve as staples in Neila’s formidable catalog as she walks fans alike through her journey of self-discovery and betterment.
Last year, Neila shared her What’s Your Sign? EP, a nostalgic yet otherworldly 8-track offering that showcases her growth as an artist and alien. In our latest conversation, we chat with the songstress in regards to her musical background, influences, and new music amongst other things.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your musical background?
Music has always been apart of my life. I can’t remember a time that I didn’t want to be an artist. From the moment I could talk, I was singing. I wrote my first song at eight years old and I began classical vocal training around seven years old. I practiced every day, constantly pushing myself through shyness and stage fright. Until I became confident in myself and my voice.
Who did you grow up listening to?
I am Jamaican and Bajan (Barbados), first-generation American. My parents came to America when they were ten and eleven so I have a very strong Caribbean upbringing. So I listened to a lot of Caribbean music growing up. However, when they moved to America they grew up in New York so I have a lot of hip-hop, R&B influences. My parents wouldn’t be considered your typical Caribbean parents, they are super cool. I grew up with a lot of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Biggie Smalls, The Beatles, and Queen in my house too. And I gravitated towards those genres the most. I was exposed to a wide range of music from an early age.
You have a unique sound and aesthetic, how did you come up with it and what does it mean to you?
I consider the type of music I make “Pop Soul.” I write all my music and I tend to have a very direct writing style, which is very pop but my melodic choices are very much so R&B and soul. My brand is literally a direct extension of who I am in real life. I grew up in a very spiritual space, and I was never boxed in creativity so my imagination had eons to expand and wonder. My dad and I would watch ghost and aliens shows 24/7 and we would have conversations about what is beyond our naked eye. So the idea that there was more beyond what we can see, was something I took comfort in at an early age. So yes, I really do believe in aliens lol oh yeah and Neilá is alien spelled backward.
What was it like working on What’s Your Sign? amid the pandemic?
Working on my EP, What’s Your Sign?, was such a juxtaposition to what was going on in the world around me. I began the creative process for the project in November of 2019 in New York with my producer Spree Wilson, then we brought in Jeron Ward on production in December to January. The experience was so joyful. There was so much love and happiness in those songs. We laughed, we cried, through the whole process. It was the most fun I had creating in a while.
We put so much intention in each instrument and lyric. I started cutting the final vocals in February to March and that process was such a beautiful learning experience. I gained so much confidence in my vocal arranging ability because there was no one able to be there with me in the studio, I had only myself to rely on. It was beautiful and life-changing. We then began shooting the visuals for the project from May through August, each song has a music video. So I’ve worked, grown, and learned a lot through this pandemic.
WYS is a display of your journey of self-discovery—how do you think you’ve grown as a person and an artist since entering the industry?
Being an artist is consistently pushing yourself forward through doubt, uncertainty, fear, and insecurities every single day. You have to have the fortitude to wake up every morning and do something that takes you one step closer to your goals and dreams. With that being said, I am growing every single moment as a person and artist because I push myself to. I don’t want to correlate any of my teams and my hard work to the music industry. It’s passion and love that is the driving factor.
When it comes to working on new music, what’s your favorite part of the process?
My favorite part of the process when working on new music is the in-between part of the beat being made and the lyrics placing themselves like a puzzle to create a song. It almost feels like magic. You go into a session with nothing and begin to piece ideas together, that I believe can only come from God, to create a tangible piece of art, that affect so many lives. Something out of nothing.
Are you working on any new projects that you can tell us about
What’s Your Sign? EP came out in September, and so far, we’ve released two to three music videos and in total, we have seven. So we are focusing on pushing this project to the stars and beyond. Looking forward to touring and performing at festivals in 2021 and dropping a What’s Your Sign? deluxe with new songs and features. Really excited for that!
Lastly, what’s your New Year’s resolution for 2021?
I don’t really make “New Year Resolutions” but my goal for 2021 is to blast the f*ck off. To say it plainly.
If you enjoyed our interview with Neila, check out our conversation with Porcelan.