Artist Interview: “Too Many Bad Times” by Niki Sabrina

Q: You mentioned that you were captivated and inspired by Amy Winehouse’s Back in Black- what a fantastic album. Can you explain what drew you to this album?

NIKI: Yes, Amy and this album in particular changed a lot for me, because it was the first time where I’ve really felt connected to an artist. I’ve been listening exclusively to mainstream pop before and I started to get a bit tired of how mainstream pop song-writing tends to fabricate everything, so when I listened to Amy for the first time I was just struck by how she wrote without any filter, she was just truly wearing her heart on her sleeve in the most honest, raw, beautiful but at the same time heartbreaking way. Of course at that time I personally couldn’t relate to most of what she’d sing about, but it made me feel something enough to pick up a guitar and start to write my own first “real” songs. I don’t think her influence shows that much in my own music, because the genre that I create in is so different, but she definitely helped me find myself as an artist and also broaden my taste beyond what I’ve heard playing on the radio.

Q: When did you begin your musical journey?

NIKI: That is a very good question, because I honestly don’t even know when it all started, since it feels like music’s been in my life since day one. Singing was my first big passion, mainly because of my obsession with Hannah Montana like a lot of kids at that time.
I’m not even gonna lie, probably like half of the things I owned had her face on it. This was the first time I idolized someone. That later on lead to me becoming kind of consumed by pop culture and fangirling
over lots of artists. Which is probably the main reason why musicians make music in the first place, because they’re also fans of music. Because I wanted to be like the artists I looked up to, I started taking guitar lessons when I was 9. Little did I know, that I would play classical Spanish guitar pieces, which really messed up my plans, because I thought taking these lessons was gonna make me like a freaking rockstar or something. Anyway, I added piano lessons one year later, where it didn’t bother me as much that I played classical music. I stopped taking lessons after 3 years, but I’m still grateful to have had the opportunity to learn the basics of both instruments at such a young age.
Those skills also turned out to be very helpful when I started writing songs and later on producing. Music production was quite a long evolution for me though. I first started with making J Dilla type hip-hop beats in GarageBand on my iPad. They were all very bad, but looking back now I remember how much joy making beats would bring me. Once I realised I wanted to sing over my own production I started to experiment more with my sound and style, which brought me to making the music I’m making right now.

Q: Did any event inspire “Too Many Bad Times?”

NIKI: I wouldn’t say there was any certain event or experience in my life that inspired this track- it was one of those songs where the lyrics sort of came out of me, without me really thinking about it. I just remember I wanted the first half of the song to be “me talking to myself”, so it’s kind of built around that idea of having “too many bad times” with myself. The second half of the song changes in its narrative, but I didn’t write it about anyone in particular in mind.
The production was very inspired by UK garage and house music, because I remember I’ve really gotten into those genres at that time. So that’s why I wanted to incorporate the 909 drum machine. I was very obsessed with that sound and because a lot of pop music is so 808 driven nowadays, I thought it’d be a nice change up.

Q: You’ll be studying popular music in London. Are you hoping to take away any specific knowledge and/or experience from your studies?

NIKI: That’s right, I’ll be starting university in September this year to study pop music at Goldsmiths.
I don’t have anything specific in mind I would like to learn in college. I think more than anything, I’d like to meet and collaborate with other musicians, because that’s something I have no experience with. I grew up in a small town in the Czech Republic and except of one producer friend, I pretty much had no one to geek out about music. My best friend is the biggest “Swiftie” in the world though, so I’d always talk about pop culture with her, but when it comes the underground scene, I didn’t really have anyone to talk with about that stuff. So I’m definitely looking forward to get to know people who I can make music with and have hours-long conversations about Radiohead or Frank Ocean.

Q: I see you have some upcoming releases. Can you share what’s next for you?

NIKI: Yeah, my debut EP titled “Forever Misunderstood” is coming out on May 28th. I made this record entirely by myself in my bedroom, including the engineering part, because I couldn’t afford to have it mixed & mastered by a professional, since I’m saving up every penny for college.
It may not be as perfect from the technical side, but I think that’s kinda part of DIY music, so as long as people will connect to it, I’m fine with the flaws.
I’ve also got a lot of new songs I’m working on, I’m just now trying to figure out if I wanna use them for another EP or a debut album. I honestly can’t imagine making a whole album all by myself, I think that’d be such torturous process and in order for me to make a good record I’d need at least one more person by my side. I guess I’ll just see what the future brings, because making an album is definitely my next big goal.

Interviewed by Sarah Scott




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