November couldn’t get any better guys😁. We get to host the lovely songstress/vocalist Njeri Kariuki on our One on One segment. We caught up with her via mail as got to have a glimpse of her charming personality and charisma. We also get to know more about her as an artist as she walks us through her EP album Dimensions and her latest single Want You which she features the talented artist MI$TAK
Kindly share the part of your story that you feel the public should know about NJERI?
My full name is Njeri Kariuki Njau. I’m 20 years old and I’m a Sagittarius for those that enjoy astrology lol. I grew up in Nairobi, lived here ‘til I was 14 then moved back to Atlanta for high school. I came back to Kenya in 2019 to visit and I decided to stick around. My favorite meal has to be ugali, some choma, and kachumbari with a bit of avocado in it. Top tier meal that one. I’m really quiet at first but once you get to know me I become one of the most talkative people ever. I’m also the brutally honest friend, that’s a double-edged sword right there. I’m an only child. I’m naturally such a homebody. Chilling at home is definitely my cup of tea but going out once in a while is a whole vibe as well. I’m all about good vibes and good energy. I like making sure that everyone around me is okay, be it a friend or a stranger. That’s all that comes to mind at the moment ahaha.
How and when did you make your debut in the music industry?
I made my debut in June of this year(2021). I had been working on my EP, Dimensions(produced by Rahymn Lukwaggo), since February of 2021 – I know that sounds long for a three-song EP but it was actually supposed to be a ten-song album. The bit I released was just what was ready at the time. The first song I ever released was JUJU ft. Razor Man-super talented rapper- which was supposed to be on the album as well but I didn’t think it was quite ready yet. My assumption is that it put my name out there a little but I could honestly be wrong lol. I genuinely have no fixed answer as to how I made a debut but one thing I can say is that I have an amazing support system that’s been there from day one and even those I met along this journey have been nothing but a blessing. I’m honestly just thankful that I’m surrounded by so much love that keeps me going and that I’m surrounded by people that keep it 100. I couldn’t be more grateful for them.
Is music what you always wanted to do while growing up?
No, funny enough it wasn’t. I always was musically inclined but I was academically inclined as well. I had my whole life planned out. I was literally to follow through with my tertiary education, become an advocate and work a 9-5, get married, have kids, what I like to call the ‘African Auntie Dream’:/. It took me taking a break from law school to realize that none of these things were for me. I absolutely hate being boxed in, I love having room for creativity, I probably don’t want kids and I think there’s so much societal pressure on women to have children which I think is terrible. Anyway, enough of me going on a tangent, I think I always knew that deep down in my soul I was meant to do something more with my talent as opposed to just sitting on it. I got diagnosed with COVID 19 last December and it opened my eyes firsthand to the fact that life is so fragile and you could be gone at any given moment so at that point I made the conscious decision to do music. I’m the type of person that would rather live knowing I tried as opposed to just keep on having the ‘what if’ question constantly pop up in my mind. My mum always says that this life isn’t a rehearsal. I always give my all and I knew for sure I’d do the same for my music.
What have been some of your greatest challenges so far?
I honestly don’t think I could give a proper answer for this because I’ve only been in the game for a few months. Everything takes time and I’m sure the challenges will arise but as of now, I’m just taking everything as a learning curve/experience as opposed to a challenge because this is my first rodeo in the industry so I’m still learning.
How would you describe your style of music?
I would describe it as a work in progress but one thing that it will never be is emotionless. I like to feel and my music allows me to put those feelings out in a healthy manner and make them beautiful, despite the emotion itself. For me, if I vibe with a beat then I’ll write to it. It could be Afropop, RnB, House beats at times, you honestly never know. As long as it makes me feel something at the end of the day then I’ll know it’s for me.
In your opinion, what is it like being a debut artist in these times?
It depends on what angle you look at it from. In terms of sales, I’d say we have more room to reach more people nowadays through apps like Spotify, Apple Music, Boomplay, YouTube, etc but the number of plays one will get, I believe, solely depends on the marketing aspect of it. I know I need to work on that aspect of my work as well. I haven’t had a manager throughout my career so I’ve been doing the little that I can and social media’s played a huge part in getting the word out about my work. I’m so thankful to each and every person that has ever shared my work. It may seem like such a small task but it goes such a long way for us creatives/creators. Being a debut artist during the COVID period was honestly quite interesting because people were home more which was an advantage in terms of me being able to reach more people with something new, which would have more than likely broken the monotonous cycle that a lot of us were in. I came about when things were getting normal again so I don’t think I got a full taste of how debuting during COVID would’ve actually been. It’s been fun though.
Congratulations on your debut EP! What inspired the name Dimensions?
Thank you so much! I really appreciate that, haha:D. I came up with the name Dimensions when I still had a full album in mind. The album was supposed to tap into the different aspects of life and the feelings that come with it but that idea didn’t come into fruition. I decided to keep the name for the three-song EP because I thought I would keep up the same idea and make a four-part series of Dimensions EPs, which I just might decide to continue with but that idea isn’t set in stone yet.
Was anyone else involved in writing, recording or producing the songs?
I wrote all the songs/write all my songs to date. The EP was produced by Mr. Rahymn Lukwaggo of Sounds and Pictures Studio. Through him, I was able to work with Mr. Chris Adwar who did some of the harmonies on the second track Never Be and I also got to work with Tee Jewel who did some background vocals and adlibs on Chafua(Dance).
When you create music, what is your personal purpose or goal?
My goal is to always articulate how I’m feeling in the simplest way possible and to hopefully make it timeless. I’d say that a lot of my music reflects a lot of my personality in terms of it being very mellow but I also have times when I want to go out and maybe party or times when I’m extremely sad and I just want to release that. No matter what it is, I’d want someone to be able to listen to it 30 years down the line and still be able to relate. Through my music, I feel as if I can be 100% transparent with my emotions, which is something I struggle with doing on a regular basis- not because I don’t want to but just because I feel as if I’m the only one that can deal with them and fully get over it. Music helps me release the emotion and through putting it out, someone else that might be feeling the same way might just find a sense of relief in it. Being understood is such an underrated feeling. Emotions are the root of our humanity in my opinion and being able to feel is the essence of living. So short answer, my goal is always to make a timeless piece, sometimes I veer a bit in the name of fun but that’s always the goal.
Who are you, favorite musicians? Who would you love to work with?
I really enjoy Tracy Chapman’s music(I grew up listening to her), Asa, Lauryn Hill, Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, SZA, Tems, Ayra Starr, Chloe & Halle, Dua Lipa, Jazmine Sullivan, H.E.R, Rihanna, Alina Baraz, Adele, old Ed Sheeran, James Bay, Sam Smith, Carlos Santana, Karun, Xenia Mannasseh, Ruguru, Iyanah Kiragu, Kinoti, Kahu$h, Korb$, Mask/Sabi Wu, Mi$taK, Ouma Wa Mafegi, Bensoul, Nviiri The Storyteller, Fancy Fingers and many more. I’d love to work with Manana, sun-El, Ayra Starr, Rema, YA LEVIS, Wizkid, D$F, Pink $weats, Kehlani, Nyashinski, Octopizzo, Karun, Steph The Rapper, Groovy Jo, Mumbi The Poet, Harry Kimani, and many maaaany more.
Let’s talk about your new single ‘Want You’ which you just debuted featuring MI$TAK. What inspired it?
Want You, which was produced by Michael Carpenter AKA Cap, is a song about a couple that is in separation after an argument who ends up missing each other. In the song, one party is trying to distract themselves by partying but it isn’t working because there’s the underlying emotion of missing their significant other which is beginning to show more and more as the party goes on. On the other hand, there’s the other party in solitude going through the motions, reminiscing on the good times. Basically, Want You is one big makeup text of two people who put their egos aside and reunite.
If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
The inclusivity and appreciation for women with no strings attached. Being an artist is one thing, being a female artist is another. I remember someone giving me advice on how to grow my fanbase and they said ‘sex sells’. I mean yes, that’s true and I’m all for whatever form of self-expression that one chooses but the part that bothered me with that answer was that it was right at the tips of their fingers. The entitlement that society has over the female body is something that is so bothersome to me and the fact that it’s been so normalized does not sit right by me. I’ve heard so many stories of people unsolicitedly making moves on female artists in professional settings in the name of getting favors and it’s sick. I would change the industry from being equal to being more equitable. How, is the question I don’t have an answer to.
How do you feel the internet has impacted the music business?
As an artist, the internet has had a major impact especially in terms of distribution. I use DistroKid to put out my music and it’s been extremely helpful in reaching the masses as compared to selling physical mixtapes. The music is accessible whenever and wherever one is in the world which creates a greater potential to make some sort of money back, be it 50 cents or 50 million.
What’s next for you? Any future releases /gigs?
I hope to drop a music video, a project, and maybe an album before the year ends. I’m featuring on Cap’s album which drops on November 12th, 2021 which I think will be one of the greatest albums of the year so stay tuned for that. I don’t have any upcoming gigs at the moment but I just had my first ever performance courtesy of Radio254, big shout out to them.
Lastly, what’s your social media handles. Where can people find you?
My Instagram is @itsjustnjeri_