The Close Up: Nyanda! Brick and Lace goes solo!

As seen in the COCO Magazine!

“Cry me a river cause your love is wicked! Can’t sleep at all cause if your love is wicked!”

I know for certain I am not the only one who has blasted this song on my iPod at the gym or in my bedroom, hip and booty shaking, moved by both the beat and the lyrics of this song! What is there not to love about sister duo, Brick and Lace? Gorgeous looks, JAMAICAN backgrounds, great dancers, talented singers, hot music, and humble! Brick and Lace are best known for their singles “Love Is Wicked,” which spent over 48 weeks on the European charts, and “Bad To Di Bone.”

In 2013, we were getting the chance to see just how ‘bad to di bone’ these sisters really were – individually!  Nyanda launched her solo career this year with her first single, “Trouble,” a Reggae cover of the Taylor Swift original. I caught up with Nyanda to talk about her recent video release for her second single scandalously entitled “Slippery When Wet (Jump in the middle),” to hear what her solo career life has been like, and to find out what else this Jamaican hot girl has been up to this year launching her solo career.

Ms. Betty Lou: Nyanda, it’s so great to be able to connect with you! You just released the video for your latest single entitled “Slippery When Wet.” First of all a big congratulations on that! The song is catchy, and the video is upbeat, hip and racy. Tell us a little bit about what the creative motivation was for this single.

Nyanda: Thank you! Well my dirty minded producers were actually singing, “He wants to jump in the middle, middle.” So they came up with that part of the song and that’s how the concept started. I collaborate a lot with Black Lion (https://twitter.com/blacklionmg), producers based out of Miami, and I was like, “Okay fine but be careful where you step cah mi slippery when wet.” (Laughs) So that is basically how the song came about. It’s fun, it is sexy a little bit and quirky. It was my first video coming out as a solo artist so I would be lying if I said I wasn’t feeling pressure that the video had to be really nice. I worked with directors from Boss Playa Production Company. They were really cool and very professional. We wanted to keep it colorful, sexy, and playful. I’m happy with how it came out and the song has been doing really well so I’m excited. 

Ms. Betty Lou: We are excited for you and love the song as well as the video! So how does Nyanda define herself as a musical artist? What genre would you put yourself in, or how would you describe your sound?  

Nyanda: I am actually on a path right now to discovering more sides of myself. I am challenging myself creatively to go deeper and find what is really there. The creative process reveals layers of oneself. I’m from Kingston, Jamaica so dancehall and reggae music is at the core, and is the foundation for me as an artist. Even in Brick and Lace, I definitely used a lot of dancehall and reggae influences in my music. There are a lot of other genres of music I’m exploring as well and the fans will get to see different sides of me. 

Ms. Betty Lou: We are looking forward to witnessing all of those layers! Something people may not know is that you are involved in the writing of your music. What is that experience like for you? What inspires you in terms of song writing? 

Nyanda: Oh yes definitely. I’ve been writing songs since very early on. It’s very important to me, and a very important part of the creative process as an artist. I get inspired all the time. Just through conversations I may have with people, and finding out about the human experience. I feel like those make the best songs; the ones that come from a real place. Anything my girlfriends are going through or I’m going through I may put it in the music; it’s kind of therapeutic, being able to express yourself that way. “Footprints”, a song I recorded with Assassin (https://twitter.com/AgentSasco) was one of the first songs where I felt to go solo. I wrote that song to empower and inspire myself. 

Ms. Betty Lou: Nice. Now, you have worked with artists overseas in the US as a songwriter. You are a member of the songwriting team Bloodline; tell us a little about that. 

Nyanda: Bloodline consists of my three sisters and I. We have written for Jennifer Lopez, Wisin and Yandel, we wrote a song called “Follow the Leader” for them. We have written for Christina Aguilera on her last album. We have written for Nicole Scherzinger (https://twitter.com/NicoleScherzy), and Lea Laval, a Pharrell’s new artist. So there is definitely a lot of writing going on behind the scenes. 

Ms. Betty Lou: Definitely multitalented! What was it like being in the musical group Brick and Lace with your sister? Was there sibling rivalry? 

Nyanda: We are so close and we are always together. Even last night people were teasing me saying, “You guys don’t have any friends outside of each other.” When you have sisters like that you don’t really get more friends. I have a few friends. It was great, to be honest, especially in the beginning. Just being able to travel with your sister. Being on the road can really take a toll on you emotionally, so it’s good to have company there to go through everything with. We would do our make up together and get ready together etc. Of course sisters get on each other nerves as well (laughs) I think everybody knows that. 

Ms. Betty Lou: My sister and I are 13 months apart, so I can definitely relate! Nyanda, what led to the decisions to pursue solo careers and what has that experience been like in terms of defining yourself as a solo artist? 

Nyanda: We spend so much time together and I think we needed that break to explore. You tend to define yourself based on your sister. I had to find out who am I as a solo artist and as an individual, so its part of that journey. People would always say, “Here is Nyanda, she’s half of the group.” I think I wanted to see what it feels like to be the whole, you know? To be honest in the beginning it was exciting but scary at the same time. You wonder how will the fans respond. Anytime you embark on a journey there is always going to be a level of fear, but I try not to give into it. I remember I was talking to this guy and he said to me, “If you’re not scared a little bit, your dream is not big enough.” 

Ms. Betty Lou:  That is so true, very wise words. What about in terms of defining yourself as a Jamaican artist in an industry that is sort of stereotyped by the rest of the world? 

Nyanda: I face that constantly, even with my team. Coming from Jamaica it’s like people expect you to always sound a certain way. If I want to do an R&B song or a Pop song I feel like that should be cool, but its like, “No you are from Jamaica you have to sing about coconuts.” (Laughs) To be honest, I feel Rihanna broke a lot of that island stereotype. I think she has opened the doors for island artists to do other kinds of music. Growing up in Jamaica we listen to all sorts of music, so I am definitely not cool with the box, I hate being in a box. 

Ms. Betty Lou: Very true. How old were you when you discovered that music was your passion? 

Nyanda: I think my mom discovered it for us. She was the first to notice the talent and had us singing in church and at local barbeques and concerts in Jamaica. We were very young, so when your mom tells you to do something you do it. We fell in love with it and it has been my passion ever since. 

Ms. Betty Lou: Well your mom certainly has an ear for talent! Who is your biggest inspiration in terms of musical artists? Who do you look up to? 

Nyanda: I would say Diana King (https://twitter.com/DIANAKINGDOM). She had a song called “Shy Guy.” She was the first female artist that came out of Jamaica and was on an international platform. It was like “Wow, I want to do that,” it definitely had a big impact on me and in shaping my dream. I also love Mariah Carey (https://twitter.com/MariahCarey); I think she is one of the best vocalists ever. I love Lauren Hill (https://twitter.com/MsLaurynHill), as well. My dad used to play Bob Marley all the time; so Bob has been a big influence for me also.

Ms. Betty Lou: We hear you are doing some other awesome things aside from music! Is it true you were asked to be a Good Will Ambassador for AIDS awareness in Uganda? 

Nyanda: Yes. I am so honored to be a part of the initiative.  It’s definitely a message that people need to hear especially over there [in Uganda], where the incidence of HIV/AIDS is so high.  I feel really honored to be a part of it because this is where I can really get to make a difference and that is really important to me. 

Ms. Betty Lou: Definitely! Tell us something we may not know about Nyanda.  

Nyanda: I’m scared of lizards. There is a walkway to my house in Miami and it’s like the lizards greet me when I come in, I call them my security now, they freak me out (laughs). Also I’m superstitious, growing up in Jamaica I used to be very scared of ghosts.  I think I saw one once. I try to tell myself it was a shadow. Now I don’t like to sleep with the closet door open because it came from the closet. 

Ms. Betty Lou: Oh dear! (Laughs) Your first single in 2013 as a solo artist was a reggae mix of Taylors swifts “Trouble” which spent more than 10 weeks on UK’s club charts. How did it feel to have such an enormous response to your fist single? 

Nyanda: It was really exciting! It’s crazy when I first heard the song it had a little reggae vibe to me, but I really wanted to make it more dancehall and go in on it hard-core. I changed the lyrics because she says, “I knew you were trouble,” and I say, “You knew I was trouble.” For me that was my coming out song, it was kind of like “here I am to cause some trouble!.” (Laughs) The good thing about it is the song was fun for us and we didn’t take it too seriously. I think most times music has to be like that. I’m really glad how everyone has responded to that single. 

Ms. Betty Lou: We are hoping you cause much more trouble next year! So, what can we expect to see from Nyanda in 2014? 

Nyanda: Right now I have so many things going on. I have a song “Like a Pro,” “Footprints” with Assassin, “Boom and Raise” with Mr. Vegas (https://twitter.com/MrVegasMusic), and I have another song with an African artist Barbara Kanam (https://twitter.com/BARBARAKANAM10). There are so many collaborations that I’ve already done. You will definitely see more music from me, and a stronger visibility. I think I might want to do some acting. I’m sort of figuring it out. I feel like what is for me will be. I’m going to continue to work hard in the studio and just do me! 

Ms. Betty Lou: Awesome! We define a “COCO Woman” as a woman who embraces her unique beauty and is not afraid to show the world her true self. Does this describe you?

Nyanda:  Yes. I think all women have something unique about us, something innately beautiful at the core. Pressures of society and stereotypes can make us feel insecure, or feel like we have to fit into a certain look or whatever.  I think it’s so important for us all to tap into that core of what makes us beautiful. That is who I am becoming. It’s almost like coming out of a shell – showing yourself and overcoming those insecurities, and embracing who you are.

Be sure to check out Nyanda’s latest video for single “Slippery When Wet!” You can check it out on her website.

 

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