Singer/songwriter Nyla Hammond secured the Hollywood RAWards semi-finalist spot in the music category as part of the annual indie artists showcase. Her music incorporates elements of pop, jazz and classical roots. We asked her what advice she'd offer to other aspiring musicians and she said, "Know how to market what you have, with all you’ve got, and do your best to pump out music that stays true to who you are. If you don’t believe it, neither will anyone else." Learn more about Nyla Hammond in this exclusive interview where she discusses her goals, aspirations and current projects.
Congratulations on winning the semi-finalist Hollywood RAWards spot in the music category! How does it feel to win and what does this mean for you?
Thank you, it feels really great! A career in music can definitely feel stagnant at times, so winning this award really served as a reminder to continue doing what I love because there are a lot of people backing me up.
Who would you like to thank? Who helped you with this milestone?
I would like to thank my friends and family that continued to vote for me even in the earliest stages of online voting, and then to the people that I don’t know personally that were nice enough to show their support for my music.
How long have you been performing? Do you play any instruments?
Well it wasn’t until the past year or so that I began performing my own shows with my own music. I have been playing piano for over 14 years and within that time I've performed in plays, recitals, shows, church choirs- you name it. I also like to dabble a little bit with percussion; rhythm is something that is incredibly exciting for me.
Are there any artists you look up to? Who are some of your influences?
Being 5’2, there are a lot of artists I “look up” to - just kidding. Artists that influence me the most are those whose music is honest to who they are, and who are constantly being inventive with their music. Artists that I’d include on this list are Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Imogen Heap, India Arie, Corinne Bailey Rae. I also have a sweet spot for any type of music that gets me dancing, so any time an artist combines that with great musicianship—I’m there.
How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard it before?
I've kind of made up my own genre- you’ll have to have a little sense of humor for it, but I like to describe my music as “popzicle” because it incorporates elements of my pop, jazz and classical roots. My music is mostly upbeat, and even slower songs always find a groove, I’m all about the groove!
Do you have any advice for musicians just starting out?
When choosing to pursue a career in music, you need to have a plan. I know everyone says that music is a tough industry to break into, and it is—but you’d be surprised how many people are musicians and don’t have a plan of action. They think that their music will always just speak for itself, and rarely take advantage of all of the opportunities that are out there. So what I’d say is know how to market what you have, with all you’ve got, and do your best to pump out music that stays true to who you are. If you don’t believe it, neither will anyone else.
What are some of your favorite songs to perform on stage?
My current favorite is a song that I recently wrote called “My Freedom.” It’s the best representation of how I’m feeling at this point in my life, so performing it unleashes an extra energy inside of me. Other than that, my usual favorite to perform is my song “Better,” because I usually get the help of the audience to help me sing the last chorus and it’s just a really fun jam. Any song that allows me to be an encourager is always a favorite for sure!
Are you working on any projects at the moment?
I sure am! I’m currently working on an EP entitled “Note To Self”. I’m really excited about it because I’m recording it with a full band, so there’s going to be a new element of arranging that most of my fans haven’t heard from me yet.
Where can we catch you next? Any upcoming shows?
Hopefully you will catch me at the Grauman’s Chinese theater for the RAWards! Other than that, I will be in a hole for a while, finishing up my recordings. Once those are done, I will be ready to hit the performance scene once again!
What's the best piece of advice someone ever gave you?
The best advice I ever received was from John Mayer at an ASCAP convention - which is basically a 3-day long expo in which musicians, songwriters, publishers, music business personnel etc. gather to share insight on the business and network. Something that John Mayer said that continues to stay in my mind is “Surround yourself with people that are smarter and better than you. If you’re in a room with people that are not challenging, shoot through the ceiling.” What is meant by this quote is there should always be an urgency to be better. If you’re constantly surrounded by people that are on the same level as you, you’re going to think it’s acceptable, and think there isn’t anything more that you need to do. It can apply to so many areas in one’s life, which is why I personally dig it!
Where can people listen to your music online?
People can connect to my music via my Facebook music page at www.facebook.com/nylamusic. As of now, only live recordings are available of my songs, but within the next few weeks I will have my studio recordings available for streaming which I’m very excited about.
Anything else you'd like to add?
Just a big thank you for interviewing me!
Event Photos by Markus Alexander for Disarray Magazine
All others provided by Nyla Hammond
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