Nissi: “I’m constantly breaking barriers to do the things that I love”

Following the release of her EP ‘Ignite’, Zoya Raza-Sheikh chats with Nissi about the roots of her music, the importance of self-reflection and her goals.

Leading with the stage name Nissi, Nissi Ogulu is a force to be reckoned with. Drawing on her experiences from life in Nigeria and London, the singer-songwriter is ready to share her music with the world. 

As an upcoming artist, how do you like to describe your music?

I would definitely say it’s just random. It’s a fusion of Afrobeats, dance and other influences in the pop space. Growing up, I was very inspired by Bredna Fassi, Alicia Keys, Nina Simone.

Your experiences in and from Nigeria and London must give you a unique perspective. How do you channel that towards your music?

I think it’s just about life and to take from my experiences here and back home. I’m definitely always channeling my own self-expression, that of people around me, the stuff I’m seeing and telling stories about it in music. At the end of the day, everyone’s human and we’re all going through the motions, but how we experience life is completely different. Influences will always come from different spaces like art, fashion, the way people behave, or other languages. Culturally, it’s very different. I definitely get influences from the cultural differences between the African space and Europe.

The single ‘JUDI’ was released last month. Can you tell us a little about your inspiration and the meaning behind the song?

To be very honest, in the same way I’m talking to people in my music, I was talking to myself on this track. You know, a lot of my time is spent working and doing things that I love to do, but at the end of the day it’s still work. Looking back for years, I don’t think I’ve ever been like “Nissi chill out for a bit”, so it was easy making a track that was talking to myself saying we all go through the motions of life having to continually work ourselves to the ground to get what we want, but it’s always important to consider the silver lining and you must exhale sometimes.

You’ve just released your EP ‘Ignite’. Can you tell us a little more about it?

I wanted it to be kind of like an appetiser into the Nissi sound. First of all, I call the EP ‘Ignite’ because it’s literally the first flame being set alight into my account. I want it to instigate a message of inspiration to people and have everyone understand that my message is to push the limits of work, society or yourself. I’m constantly breaking barriers to do the things that I love to do without anybody calling me. I have music on there that talks about my journey, offering hope to people, and it ends with a prayer. It’s still traditionally rooted and it goes into proper pop and dance music. 

At the end of the day, all I really want to do is inspire people, so I hope to resonate with people more. It’s more than going to listen to a track. I want to be able to connect with the person and have them take something away that’s beyond a fleeting experience. 

You’ve been involved in music from a young age.  What’s been your most memorable event or moment in your career today? 

My showcase in January this year because it was the first event I’ve done in an intimate space. I was connecting with everybody in the room and having a one on one conversation with them. It was my first time having such an intimate performance. It was very emotional.

You’ve been gaining a lot of traction as an artist. What is your dream goal in the long run?

As a musician, to have myself as a household name worldwide and that would be the ultimate goal, but it gets deeper than that. Life is more important than just being a household name. After that, what have you actually done? What’s the impact you’ve made on the lives of people? I think that is where the main goal or the main purpose has been at the end of the day. I want to be driving that conversation around culture and opening those doors. Even being able to see beyond the limitations placed on you based on your birth geographical location, or your ethnicity. I think everybody has the ability to expand and explore different types of sounds, music and creativity. I want my music to be part of that movement to move across the border and tear through barriers.

Nissi’s EP ‘Ignite’ is out now on Platoon.

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