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Interview: Catching Up With NIABI

NIABI is a Canadian-Jamaican DJ, born and raised in Montreal, Quebec. Her deep love for music has led her to incorporate dancehall, hip-hop, R&B, afrobeats, & electronic music into her sets. We caught up with her to talk about music and what keeps things creatively fresh.

For DJs it’s all about creating a specific vibe or atmosphere for the audience. From your POV, what do you think the key ingredients are for the ultimate DJ set?

For myself, giving my energy to the crowd, and curating and adapting my selection to my audience allows me to gain the trust of the people so that I can take them where I need to. I think the goal is to connect with the crowd and enjoy yourself. Enjoyment is contagious! 

What gets you in the zone creatively? Do you have any practices or rituals that help you tap into your creativity?

Music has always been an escape for me. I [also] enjoy exploring different creative outlets, such as graphic design, and dance which have been a big part of my DJ journey. I’ve been dancing since I was able to stand up on my two feet. In some way, I feel my life has kind of prepared me for this line of work. I’ve been able to use those skill sets to help me in the music industry.

Who are some of your early influences musically? What about them drew you in and how can we hear that in your music today?

So many artists have had an influence on my musicality. But I will start with my parents. My father has a reggae band and my mother used to sing backup for them and that’s how they met. My mom would always tell me that as a baby I would nap during their practices, falling asleep to the melodies of reggae music. This has had a huge impact on my djing. My signature style and my favorite music to play is Dancehall. I’ve also been inspired by artists and producers like Missy Elliot, Aaliyah and The Neptunes (to name a few) that have been pioneers in pushing boundaries within the music industry. You can hear the heavy 2000’s influence in my sets as well. 

Are there any new music releases you’ve discovered recently that you’re super hyped about?

I play a lot of upbeat music but I’m really a sad girl music type (haha). I’m super hyped about the new Brent Faiyaz album release [WASTELAND]. And any new R&B, to be honest.

Who are you excited to see at POP Montreal 2022?

I’m excited to see the legend Sister Nancy!  What a privilege to even be a part of this event! I’m also a big fan of Bambii.

You can catch NIABI this weekend, Saturday July 16 opening for Xenia Franca with Janette King at L’Entrepôt 77! 7pm. Free. Details here.

Niabi will also be performing at POP Montreal 2022 opening for Sister Nancy with Mossman and Bambii on October 1st, 2022. Get your tickets here.