Typically sporting a colourful mohawk with a bass guitar casually saddled to her side, Nik West is the perfect example of females bossing up. Described as "electric" and "explosive," West lives up to her reputation with the release of her latest EP Say Somethin.
As West gears up for the debut of her upcoming album Catch Me If You Can, the bassist who was dubbed as the "female Lenny Kravitiz" lets us know about her future projects and why she turned down an offer to play bass for Prince.
How would you describe your current state of mind?
Open. Inspired. I just lost one of my favourite people, John Blackwell,
Prince's drummer so I have been trying to fill my heart and shows with
music I love and music that makes me happy to play without any thoughts
about what others think of me.
Growing up in Phoenix, how did you get into music?
There's not a lot going on in Phoenix so I had a lot of free time on my hands. I
picked up the bass and started practising daily. My dad showed me some
rhythm guitar and I applied it to the bass
You almost gave up a career in music at the age 18 when a couple of
guys said that you 'sucked', what made you pick up the bass again?
A guy. Ironically. He said that I need to do something that not many girls
were doing and just see where it goes. My sister also kinda forced me in a
direction of picking ONE thing and sticking to it. So I decided music.
Being a female bass player is uncommon, but being a black female bass
player is a rarity, why do you think this is?
Not much representation for little black girls to see. We do what we see.
We emulate those that look like us. My dad inspired me and my mum gave me
the confidence. When I found out about Rhonda Smith, I knew that it was
Tell us about your latest EP Say Somethin?
This was the first project that I wrote and produced with the exception of
one song. That EP was just an introduction of what is to come. Some funk,
some rock, some out of the box music.
If the whole world knew one of your songs from this album, which one would it be?
'Say Somethin'. That song was written about a famous guy that everyone knows,
and he always had someone call me and relay a message rather than calling me
himself, I later found out that he had a crush on me and wrote this song about him.
What message would you like to get across in your music?
Creating good, clean music is okay. I like to write about life. It's never
about anyone else when I write, it's my real life.
You were working on a project called 'Funkalaya' with John Blackwell & Tomo Fujita, can we still expect to see anything come out from that?
That project won't be finished as we lost the drummer John Blackwell to
cancer. But I hope to release a tribute project in the future. For now, I
am working on an album called Catch Me If You Can. Due out next March.
Featuring Macy Gray, Larry Graham, and a few other surprise guests.
So what was the initial meeting with Prince like?
Scary. I couldn't play for him. I was nervous and I never get nervous. He
was kind and generous and kept trying to feed me. I couldn't eat.
Do you have any interesting stories with Prince?
I was offered a job to play bass for him and I had always wanted to do
that, but I knew that being a solo artist is what I really wanted to do so
I didn't take the job. I beat myself up over it because being a solo artist
was so much harder.
He then told me a story of Jimi Hendrix being offered a job
as Buddy Miles guitarist. He turned it down because he knew he was his own
artist. He respected me for that decision and often invited me to work on
projects with him and bands that he was working with.
What would you do to make the world a better place?
I think I'm doing it. Being myself. Creating clean, fun music.
Entertaining live. Giving others an experience and inspiration. It starts
with everyone doing their part.
What would you fill a swimming pool with if it could be anything?
Knowledge. The answers to everything I want to know. The why's.
So what's next for you right now?
More collaborations, more music, my wedding, and world domination!
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