One night earlier this month, I clicked a random link from a retweet on Twitter and started listening to a song called “Sigh” from a Minneapolis-based rapper, singer, and producer, Ness Nite. After hearing the song, it piqued my interest and I wanted to listen to more. I then found out that “Sigh” was from Ness’ new EP, Nite Time.
If you asked her to describe her sound, she’d tell you braless music. Once hearing, Nite Time, you’ll get why that is the perfect description of the music she makes. In this Q&A, I talk to Ness about her production process, her EP, her inspirations and more.
Vince Valholla: Currently, you’re based in Minneapolis, but you also lived in Chicago for some time. Did either city directly inspire your sound?
Ness Nite: I’m living in Minneapolis right now, but I lived in Milwaukee until is was 15, then moved to Chicago to finish high school, then moved to Minnesota for college. I dropped out this past semester and am now exploring the music scene in the Twin Cities. I would almost say that my sound is more inspired by the fact that I don’t necessarily call one place home and that a sense of exploration can be felt in my music; sonically and emotionally.
Can you describe the music scene in Minneapolis?
The hip-hop scene here is small but there’s no doubt that we’re thriving and growing. I haven’t lived here very long at all, only two years, so I have a somewhat unique perspective on things. The scene definitely has a culture of its own, probably more DIY than most places and in general, most local acts are very supportive of one another, which has been really cool for me to experience. Having transplanted myself here I was worried at what the reception might be to my sound and I’ve gotten nothing but support from fellow artists and people that I’ve met since my arrival and that’s been extremely motivating to me.
On top of you being a lyricist and singer, you also produce your own music. Explain how the production process works for you?
When I’m making songs alone, I start by making a beat. I use Ableton. I work on an instrumental until it moves me in some way; physical and/or emotional. The words are always inspired by the sounds. I don’t really write things down anymore, I come up with a hook usually and I just sort of record myself speaking on whatever the concept is. Concept is super important to me.
You released your Nite Time EP under Braless Records. Do you plan on developing other artists in the future?
I had to make up a label name to distribute my music through DistroKid. I would love to develop other artists in the future. I’m obviously still developing my own sound, but I want to play a part in others executing their vision as well.
What major label would you consider signing to if the opportunity presented itself?
In theory, I think it would be pretty tight to sign with Republic because they’ve signed many of my favorite artists that I dream about working with, most pressing being Lorde and Kid Cudi. I also think it would be cool to stay independent and run my own shit.
I can tell you’re very hands on with your music. Who are key members of your team?
My team is Mike Frey, he’s my friend and he co-produced, mixed, and mastered Nite Time. Then there’s Jazmayne Lynn who is kind of my second brain works on artwork and cool things with me. If I’m not with one, I’m with the other. I was doing this alone for awhile but they both are vital to me now.
What song on your new EP was the most fun to record?
I think that Divine was the most fun to record because for the longest time i wasn’t able to sing it how I knew I wanted to so when it came time to record the final version I just felt ready and had such a good time recording because I could feel that I was doing it exactly how I wanted it to be done as I was doing it. It was really exciting to me.
What song took you the longest to write?
“Sigh” actually took me the longest to write. For awhile I just had the “this business is my pleasure, babe” part recorded and the sighs in the hook and I couldn’t some up with any verses. Then I went back to it one day and forgot how much I liked it and was able to write/record both of the short verses in about an hour. About 6 hours of total work went into it (initially, before Mike re-mixed & mastered it), but it technically took a solid 3 months to finish.
If you could remix any song on your new EP, what artist would you have featured on it?
If I could remix any song it would definitely be “Sigh” and I would want Willow Smith to be on it. I’d let her name it cause it would be cooler for sure. I honestly don’t know what it would sound like, but I know it would be my favorite song.
Can you explain your song “Lilith”?
I’m currently working on shooting the music video for Lilith and I think that the video will serve as the best explanation for the song. There’s just so much meaning packed into the song that I believe only the visuals will be able to do it justice.
I loved your video for “Yes” featuring Nick Jordan. What’s one fun fact about the making of that video?
The most fun part of shooting my music video was that everyone involved loved the project and wanted to put their everything into making it happen and that felt so special to me. I hope that my future endeavors can produce energy like that.
What’s next for you?
Well, now that my project is out, I hope to do a lot of out of town shows and just play my music wherever I can. I’m really excited to share more of the music that I’ve been working on soon!
Listen to Nite Time and Buy it iTunes