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Nicola Gaea Opens Up About Her Latest EP "Rise" and Its Significance in Her Artistic Journey

Nicola Gaea, a rising star from North London, possesses the exceptional talent that the area is known for nurturing. Through her soul-stirring melodies and introspective songwriting, she has captivated us all and left us craving for more. Her latest EP, "Rise," takes us on a personal journey through her artistic growth, a journey that showcases her free-thinking creativity and taps into the power of the mind, body, and soul.

"Rise" effortlessly blends soul, jazz, and UK garage across its six tracks, creating more than just sound-waves, it manifests as an embodiment of Nicola's artistic expression. Each track unveils a different aspect of her journey, delving into themes of self-love, overcoming challenges, and yearning for a disconnected existence in a chaotic world.

Boldly opening with the spoken-word intro, 'Heal,' Gaea sets the tone for the project, urging listeners to love themselves with ease and rise above life's trials and tribulations. The soothing combination of electric guitar chords and soft percussion establishes a therapeutic soundscape, allowing Nicola's soft, chant-like vocals to create a visceral listening experience. Her previously released single, 'Distractions', explores Gaea's feelings about the unnecessary noise we face in our daily lives and the desire to disconnect. Through ethereal vocals, Gaea transforms the angst-filled lyrics into a peaceful escape. '

Nicola artistry extends beyond her music, showcasing her versatility as a multifaceted artist. In addition to her talents as a singer and songwriter, she excels as a creative director, producer, and photographer. Through captivating music videos and collaborations with other artists and brands, Nicola brings her music to life visually, demonstrating her unique perspective and undeniable creative force.

In this exclusive interview, we had the opportunity to delve deep into the creative process behind "Rise" and understand how it represents a significant moment in Nicola's artistic growth.

Listen to "Rise" Below

Hey Nicola, congratulations on the release of your EP "Rise", We are thrilled to have the opportunity to chat with you and gain a deeper understanding on the project...

What were the key inspirations that drove you to create "Rise," and what do you ultimately want your audience to take away from this EP? 

As simple as it may sound, ‘life’ really was the inspiration that drove me to write and create this project. I first started writing the songs that you hear on the project in 2021. I was at a stage in my life where I was spending a lot of my time at home, alone, getting to know myself. The majority of these songs were born from journaling about my day to day feelings about the world and it’s a sonic exploration of my reality. This EP was written from my belief that we have the power to create anything we want. If even one person who listens to the EP feels that little more empowered to step into their power, that would be a true honor. But overall, there isn’t a specific feeling or thought I want people to take away from this, I hope it can be a unique experience for everyone and relate to people in different ways. 

We're curious to know more about your creative process for "Rise." Can you share some insights into how you approached songwriting and production? Did you experiment with any new techniques or explore different sonic landscapes?

The songwriting of these songs came very naturally. They were made over the course of 2 months and I was writing nearly every evening. I would just let my intuition guide me. When a song felt forced, I would park it and maybe return later if it felt right to. Most of the songs you hear on the project were songs written in one session because those words were ready to flow out of me at that time. After I had written to the songs on beats from my archive, I would bring them to the executive producer of the EP, Jason Robinson, who is also a close friend of mine. He just understood straight away what type of sonic journey I wanted to go on and he went with it, taking the ideas and developing them into what you hear today. From the very beginning, we discussed what we wanted, the mood we wanted to create with the project and the genres we wanted to play with. 

Could you give us some insight into the genres and artists that inspired you during the making of this EP? How did these influences shape your artistic vision?

I was listening to a variety of music when writing this EP but the likes of Alfa Mist, Cleo Sol, Little Simz, SAULT, Solange and the Sunday Service Choir were artists I was consuming A LOT of. Their free flowing sounds and experimentation definitely influenced this project. It gave me the confidence to experiment with different sounds myself - playing with things like tempo, fusing genres and the pitch of my voice. Early 2000s RnB, Soul & Hip-Hop will always have a special place in my heart too - artists like Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Alicia Keys, to name a few. Music like this influenced things like the acapella-like intro of Pain & Pleasure and adlibs on Seasons. 

Were there any specific hurdles you faced while working on "Rise"? If so, how did you overcome them and stay true to your artistic vision?

Artistically there weren't many hurdles at all. This project has really been something we [me and contributing artists] have nurtured over time. Nothing was forced and there was no specific end date in mind when I was working on the music. I think that’s important when wanting to create an authentic body of work. As an independent artist, the biggest challenges were definitely financial. I was fortunate enough to receive funding from an amazing charity called Help Musicians. This funding really helped me push the project forward, especially on the music production side of things. However, I still needed to self fund a lot of the post music production work - the marketing, promotion and distribution of the project. It’s been challenging because I also have to live life in London which is becoming increasingly more expensive as the days go on. But, I have amazing friends and family around me who support me daily and have a close circle of friends who are incredible creatives themselves. They’ve really helped me to bring the creative direction of the project to life on minimal budgets and give me the strength to keep going. 

The title "Rise" suggests a theme of resilience and growth. Can you elaborate on the concept behind the EP and the significance of the title? How does this theme resonate with your personal journey as an artist?

It’s definitely about growth and healing. It is about resilience in a way too but in the sense that it’s ok to not have all the answers in your life, but being committed to growing and learning yourself is in a way a rebellion against a system that is good at keeping you distracted from doing so. This EP explores the complex feelings of being alive, but simultaneously acknowledges the responsibility to feel, to love, to heal, to rise for yourself and for others. I’ve been exploring who I am as a person and what makes me, me in therapy over the last couple of years and the project is an introduction to my world, my mind and my reality. The notion of ‘rising’ really resonates with my journey as an artist because I had to overcome years of minimal confidence to get to the point where i’m even able to finish a song, let alone release it. This project, to me, is my arrival as an artist and the body of work that  breaks down the barriers of my artistic insecurity. It’s my rising. 

Are there any specific tracks on the EP that you're particularly excited for listeners to hear? What makes them special to you?

This is a difficult question as I feel my favourite tracks on the project are always changing! But right now, I’m really loving Pain & Pleasure, Seasons and Home. Pain & Pleasure is about being at peace with all that life has to offer and having the power to create the life that you want. This is a message that I really resonate with right now because it makes the up and down journey of being an artist that little more peaceful. Sonically, I love that the song Seasons is a continuation of Pain & Pleasure and it’s like the peak of the project as it's right in the middle. I co-wrote this song with Holly James, someone I've known since nursery, so that always makes it that little more special too. Lastly, the outro, Home, is a song I wrote when I was on the beach in Cyprus. I’m quarter Cypriot and was brought up with Cypriot culture being a big part of my childhood. I felt that connection when I was writing this and the vocal layers and harmonies creates a warm feeling in this song. It almost feels like you’ve just had a long hug after listening to it and I love that. 

What are your expectations for the EP in terms of connecting with your audience? How do you hope it will impact them?I really try to live my life without expecting any specific outcome.

I of course have goals and dreams that I want to achieve in my career but I'm happy just taking things day by day, receiving and appreciating the blessings that patience and determination can bring. I would love to connect more with people in person this year, so I'm planning on creating spaces where I can hopefully meet and talk to people who resonate with my music.  I hope this project enables me to do so. 

What can your fans anticipate next, do you have any plans that you can share with us?

I’m planning on doing more shows towards the second half of the year which I'm really excited about. I really love performing live and having that physical connection with people. I’m releasing a vinyl for this project too, which will have an alternative cover to the original. I enjoy listening to vinyls, it creates a different experience and being able to have music physically exist in people’s homes will be very cool. I wish I could spill on all my plans but the best way to keep up with me would be to follow me on Instagram @nicolagaea where I'll be announcing more in due course.  


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