THEROXYONSUNSET.COM EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
WITH NIKKA COSTA
By: Brent X Mendoza
TONIGHT: L.A.’s own funky diva Nikka Costa will take the stage for a night of sexy soulful rock n’ roll.
Promoting the release of her brand new EP PRO*WHOA!, the lifelong music industry vet has said “Go Funk Yourself” to the major labels and struck out on her own as an independent artist.
With a game changing new plan and popin’ new material, Costa is set to return to the spotlight, kicking things off with a multi-night cameo on Prince’s epic 21 Night Stand Tour, and a home show at the world famous Roxy Theatre.
We got the new record PRO*WHOA! coming out later this week. Want to tell us a little about it? Where did the title come from, etc?
Well, it’s an EP and it is the first of many that will be rolling out throughout the year. We’re releasing it on my new label called Go Funk Yourself Records, and it’s exciting cause it’s our first independent release. So it’s kind of a new frontier for me that’s both liberating and creative.
The record is called PRO*WHOA! and it’s basically after a song on the EP that’s… it’s pretty much autobiographical and it’s kind of not really meant to be taken too seriously. In a way, it’s kind of like I’m rapping, and I’m sort of “blowing myself up” as rappers do [laughter]. So I just sort of talk all about my life, and the end (of the song) is “I’m a pro. Whoa!” It’s tongue-in-cheek.
So a series of EPs?
Yeah we just decided to kind of change the normal formula and just do EPs throughout the year, instead of waiting two years and doing a full length album. That way we can keep touring… cause usually I kind of go away for a while and I make a record. So were trying to always keep something out there and current, and ya know just sort of changing the traditional model.
Having been with the majors on and off, and now being on your own… and with the current state of the industry, are you looking at this as a sort of new model for independent artists?
Well I don’t know if it’s like a way to follow… I know that a lot of people have been doing it this way now. I think it’s better in a way for the fans cause they get new stuff, and then they get you on the road cause you’re promoting your new stuff, and then it’s only a few months and the whole process sort of starts over again.
I think it just suits our ADD culture that we’ve inherited with virtual media, and for me it’s good cause I don’t have the daunting task of making an entire album and I can release things as they come to me, and in the moment that I’m feeling them, cause sometimes when you make a record, and it doesn’t come out for a year and a half and you’re sort of over it. I mean… you like it, but you’ve moved on, and you’re maybe into something else. It just sort of keeps things rolling.
Is that a little more pressure on you when you’re only releasing a few tracks at a time? Pressure in the sense that they be more singles oriented, or the real “breakout tracks.”
I actually find it to be less pressure because, I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel with each EP. For me, it’s more daunting to have ten or twelve songs that I really, really love on one album… It’s kind of like, “this is where I’m at right now, so hey here it is!” I’m always very precious about what I put out anyway, so regardless I’m definitely wanting it to be something that I’m really proud of.
Having grown up in the music business and starting your career as a child, how do you look back on that? Was it a positive experience?
Yeah, it was… it’s a lot of work and I was lucky enough to sort of be able to handle it and ya know not end up being on heroin as a teenager. But I think a lot of child stars just can’t deal.
But I also got out of it though too; and I stopped singing when I was eleven or twelve and I wanted to take a break; and I didn’t do it for like five years, and kind of had a normal childhood. I just sort of got lucky the way things turned out.
I think it’s very hard to be in the adult world in that way, being looked at, and criticized. Cause you don’t even know who you are as a person, let alone as an artist.
I heard you got up with Prince recently at the L.A. Forum?
Yes! I got up a couple times with him and we opened for him one night. It was great! He’s been a good friend and mentor throughout the years, and it’s always so crazy and fun to get up with him. Opening was awesome, the crowd was totally with us, and it just felt rad to be up there doing your thing in front of 17,000 people. And then you get to sit and watch a whole Prince show!
What songs did you perform with him?
I got up and did “Whole Lotta Love” and “Love Bazaar,” it was amazing!
And you guys have had a relationship for a long time?
Yeah probably since 2001 or 2. I don’t see him all the time, but I’ve opened for him before, and recorded with him before, written with him and stuff… Late night conversations about business. And yeah he’s been very awesome with me imparting advice and knowledge, and stuff about how to sort of keep things moving in this crazy business.
Finally, you grew up with Roxy owner and operator Nic Adler. Any good stories we can embarrass him with?
[Laughter] I did, I did! Every time I think of Nicholai and Cisco… they used to both be really blonde, both of them, and they used to just run naked around Malibu. That’s all I remember is those two running around naked on the beach.
That was our summer. I used to stay at a friend’s who lived down the beach and I was there all summer, and we’d just meet like half way, or meet at their house; and yeah, I just remember these little tow-heads, little naked boys running around.
NIKKA COSTA performs tonight, June 23 along with L.A. based rock-pop band Capra, the soul inspired Allen Stone. Doors open at 8:00 p.m.
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