Nikki Vianna will always speak her truth. Her new song “One by One,” a soul-baring, genre-bending confessional, asserts both strength and vulnerability. “One by one, I show you how / I used to break the others down,” she snaps on the hook.
Her lyrics are razors, slicing and dicing, but her vocal deceives her. There is an incredible amount of pain seeping in her inflection in equal measure. “It’s okay to be vulnerable at times, but you should never, ever let someone mistake your kindness for weakness, like I’ve done in the past,” she tells Audiofemme. “I’ve learned from my past experiences. Hopefully, you don’t have to go through something I have, and I can save someone from some pain.”
She doesn’t need to get specific about her experiences, opting for her music to speak louder than she possibly could. But she does take a moment to speak candidly. “I’ve been making music since I was super young, and it’s been a long road in my musical journey. It was hard to find the right team, especially a team where everyone was on the same page, working towards the same goal,” she admits. “I mean, no matter how long the road is to find it, when you do, it’s magical. The hard work is never done but when everyone gets it, gets who you are as a person, artist, and all that… it brings an aura of peace that my voice is being heard.”
With more than one million loyal monthly Spotify listeners, and millions of streams, Vianni’s voice is finally being heard. Previous endeavors in the rearview mirror, including an early record deal she signed instead of attending Juilliard, Vianna hooked up with Atlantic Records in late 2018. Her first offering was the slow-boiling “Done,” setting a new artistic standard later embodied with the Matoma-produced “When You Leave.”
Eighteen months later, she has already witnessed steady, marked growth to her artistry, as well as in her personal journey. “I would describe my growth as an artist and a person as soulful and meaningful. Don’t ever get caught up in the hype of something,” she advises. “Always continue to stay true to who you really are and always be grateful.”
Vianna tipped her hat to her Italian roots earlier this year with a song called “Mambo,” which samples “Mambo Italiano” ─ written by Bob Merrill and released by Rosemary Clooney in 1954. Since its release, it has been remixed by GATTÜSO, Herve Pagez, and Leandro Da Silva.
Such adeptness, sliding between genres like a chameleon, runs in her blood. Vianna’s great grandmother Christina Agostinelli was a prolific classical singer back in Italy, and those gifts can be traced to Vianna’s mother and then to her. One could argue musical talents are certainly hereditary, or at least, “God gives us our gifts for a reason,” as Vianna puts it.
Vianna, also classically trained herself, celebrates her heritage and upbringing while also continuing to push boundaries every step of the way. She could have very easily pursued a similar career trajectory, but she found herself entranced by pop music instead. “The training gives such a great foundation for a musician, but I always gravitated towards the music I am doing now,” she says, noting such artists as Whitney Houston being vital to her work.
She continues sharpening her songwriting and honing her particular brand of pop, finding great creative freedom through her many collaborations. To date, she has worked with the likes of Cash Cash, Flo Rida, and Poo Bear, among others, and each meet-up gives her further agency to express and be free. “My favorite times in the studio are when I’ve been going through something, and then your friend will play a chord and the melody and lyrics just flow from my lips so easily and you make the beautiful record so fast,” she says. “I feel like my favorite songs I’ve made came super easy and quick like we were not trying. It was natural and not forced.”
With songs like “Mambo” and “One by One” in her arsenal, Vianna eyes a body of work to come. “[These] two records show [my] many sides and the many things I’ve been through. I am not a cookie cutter kinda girl, so my music will show that. My records will always have something that ties them back to who I am as an artist but I don’t like to be put in a box.”
Trials and tribulations tested her, but she is not broken. She is more self-assured today than ever. “I’ll never give up. I will always stay true to who I am, always work hard, and always be grateful. With God’s grace, I believe things that are meant to be will be.”
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