Nicki Wells, singer, songwriter and composer known as T U R Y A has announced the release of her debut single ‘Rain’, available now to stream and download. She takes inspiration from Indian Classical Music, which she studied as a teenager in India. The name comes from Turiya, a Sanskrit word, meaning a state of pure consciousness, the silence one experiences after sound. This influence is echoed throughout the new single.
Rain is a bewitching masterpiece of ethereal, melancholic electronica and has already featured in Ridley Scott’s ‘Life In The Day (India)’. With rich, immersive melodies interwoven into lyrics of yearning and poignancy, T U R Y A’s distinctive vocals spans continents and cultures.
With influences rooted in her personal experiences, Nicki was born in South London, but grew up in the foothills of the Himalayas.
T U R Y A’s vocal and songwriting approach is a cultivated collection of melodies, combined with uniquely captivating, bittersweet and moving vocals. It's these elements that have shaped ‘Ocean’.
In this interview she shares her inspiration and thoughts with us.
What inspired your debut song ‘Rain’, can you tell us about your personal journey?
Rain is fundamentally about acceptance. It symbolises that bad times will come and go anyway, so its about allowing one to just accept that the 'storm will come, the rain will fall’ and not to resist it because it will drench you anyway… So it’s essentially about surrendering to whatever needs to happen, even if its difficult or painful. These are feelings that I felt which inspired me ultimately to write this song.
What cultural influences are injected into the new album?
This record is an amalgamation of all I’ve listened to, so there are folk elements, soul, film music elements through to indian classical. It is fundamentally a singer songwriter approach because I grew up listening to a lot of songwriters like Jeff Buckley, Joni Mitchell, Nick Drake and Kate Bush. But it is a mixing pot really of all I’ve absorbed over the years.
Why did you choose to return to London to record and release your debut album and single? After all, the video was shot in Poland.
The record was actually completed way before the video for Rain was shot. It was created and recorded in London.
The video is beautifully put together and directed, can you tell us more about your inspiration behind it? And why did you choose the team you worked with?
Lukasz Pytlik directed this video and I resonated his creative approach. The narrative to his pitch for Rain was quirky, allegorical and symbolic. We used actress Marta Gawronska to be the protagonist of the video. I like the idea of telling the story of my songs through characters, not necessarily using myself as the protagonist but more, serving as the narrator of the story.
The album Ocean is very connected to you and your style. How long did it take to write and record the album? Was it more difficult because it is so personal, and do you have any anecdotes whilst recording it?
The record took quite a while to make… I made 3 drafts (essentially a whole album per draft) in 4 years and the 3rd draft is what it is today. Each draft had brand new set of songs and all in a different style. So it was a crazy journey of musical and self discovery for me. The first draft had some songs I had written ages ago, even some songs I wrote when I was 16. It felt too naive to me ultimately, so I moved on to produce the 2nd draft of the record, where I was given the opportunity to produce, program and create sounds, understand how a studio worked, pushed the buttons and twisted knobs for a year. That was a huge learning curve for me in terms of creating sounds from scratch. And that draft was more electronic. I then had to go through an emotional journey to get to where the current album is today: the third and final draft. It is stripped back, raw, organic and emotional. Nitin Sawhney produced it in an elegant manner whereby the songs were enhanced by production but not swimming in it.
Can you tell us more about your upcoming gig for Common and Kind at Union Chapel?
I was asked by Michael Williams of Common & Kind to be part of the event and I think it is for such a good cause. Its all about integration and unity and we’ve had such dark times in the UK recently with these attacks and now the Grenfell Tower incident. Its all so painful, so I think musicians do have a responsibility to come together, spread good vibes through music and create a unifying atmosphere. Music has the tremendous power to do that.
You have since released two remixes of ‘Rain’ since the release of the original single. What was the reasoning behind each remix?
I think the original song of Rain is very much like a spine or perhaps we can use the analogy of a bare mannequin which can be dressed up in different ways. You can put a colourful frock on it with elaborated designs or you could dress it up in a minimalistic, black and white, monochromatic style… In the same way, a producer can dress it up (remix it) in a unique way, adding their own personality to it and I find that interesting to do; creating a spine for other creatives to be expressive with…
As a woman in the music industry, do you think inequality is a major issue? Have you had any negative (or really positive) experiences?
Honestly, I can only speak for London, but as a woman in the music industry, I have been respected and treated equal to men as a professional. Luckily, I haven’t come across many misogynistic men in the industry… There are so many talented women and men who benefit by working harmoniously together. From my experience, music is the ONE thing that has no judgement, barriers or borders. It actually does the opposite, by bringing people all gender, race or cultural background together.
Does the London music scene inspire you? Is there enough support in London for independent female artists?
Yes, London is probably the greatest city in the world! There’s so much creatively going on and the music scene is thriving. There’s something to see and hear everyday. In terms of female artists, really, I think it was because of Amy Winehouse that females have been dominating the charts for these last few years. She paved the way for British female artists like Adele, Florence Welch, Paloma Faith, Emile Sande, Jessie J, Ellie Goulding and others to break into the US market and have the international success they have. Amy really broke the mould for women in the music industry.
What are your future plans? Is there anything else you want to tell us that we haven’t mentioned.
I’m going to start gigging as T U R Y A now and just continue writing, continue creating, continue discovering and continue evolving…
How do you plan to inspire others with your craft, and to what end?
I think the only way you can truly inspire others is when you have just been authentically and genuinely yourself in what you do. Without wanting anything in return for it, whether that be money, fame or success. I think sticking to your own vision and pure feeling is key. And when you see artist’s doing that in their unique way, without compromising their own integrity, it’s inspiring to watch. I hope I can try… in my own way, to be focused on my path and if that inspires anyone on the way, then that's more than I could ever ask for.
Singing primarily in English, ‘Ocean’ is a body of work and debut material representing an artist who is vast in her range, and clear in her emotional appeal. It brings out the bluesy sweetness of
T U R Y A’s vocals, and the beauty within simplicity.
You can listen to the two remixes of the single on Spotify here https://open.spotify.com/album/6EXf4TLSOW0qe6OFWBtYwF
Hayley Smith is the Owner of Boxed Out PR and Founder of FlowAid, a campaign providing free sanitary products to homeless women. Hayley has written for leading publications including The Debrief, The Pool, Dazed and Confused, Warrior Woman and F is for Feminism. Hayley was featured in the Elle 23 under 30 female entrepreneur list for 2016 and is a TEDx speaker. Hayley writes about women’s issues, business, politics and travel. And she isn’t afraid to shy away from the word periods.