The 29-year-old has both the talent and the vision to rise to the top. Signed to “E.M.E” Empire Mates Entertainment in 2012, Niyola sits with Zen to talk about life as a musician, her label mates and life away from the cameras.

RnB+Singer+Niyola+Interview+Zen+Magazine+Africa+2016 (6)RnB+Singer+Niyola+Interview+Zen+Magazine+Africa+2016 (2)Niyola is a Nigerian recording artist,
singer, songwriter and performer.

Zen: How did you get started in the music industry?
Niyola: I participated in a competition in 2000. At the time I was extremely young and unaware of how intense music was as a profession and how far it could lead so I was going with the flow. I emerged first runner up and started getting offers to collaborate with already established artistes but I was overwhelmed and so I didn’t accept most of the offers. A few years after, having known major artistes and media practitioners and being a bit familiar with the industry, I finally decided to join the then “Da trybe” which didn’t last long and then eventually got signed to Westside Music where my debut album was released in 2008. The rest is history.

Zen: Have you always wanted to be a musician?
Niyola: I always knew I wanted to do music but I had no clue how or when, and indefinitely didn’t think it would happen the way it did.

Zen: How did you get signed on to EME?
Niyola: Banky and I had been friends before he finally moved to Nigeria and at the time I had stopped doing music for about 3 years. I decided to release a new song featuring Skales who was signed to Banky and went to the E.M.E studio to meet with Skales‘ manager and ran into Banky. We ended up talking about the industry and the need for women to speak up about issues women faced in Nigeria like rape amongst many other things. We decided to work on a song bordering on women empowerment and that was how I ended up an Empire mate !

Zen: What’s it like working with Banky W and the other artists under the label?
Niyola: Everyone who was and still is on E.M.E is undisputedly talented and It’s always mind blowing to work with such people. I have enjoyed working with everyone and have definitely learnt from each person and added to my art. It’s been a blessing.

RnB+Singer+Niyola+Interview+Zen+Magazine+Africa+2016 (3)“I find joy every time I get a chance to sing with other musicians
who are great at what they do.” says Niyola. Photographed
by Remi Adetiba, styled by Chyna Bee

Zen: Is being the only female artist on EME demanding?
Niyola: You could say that, but not anything unbearable.

Zen: What are you working on right now?
Niyola: I am currently putting finishing touches to my album.

Zen: Could you briefly describe the music-making process? How is it like in the studio?
Niyola: There’s no clear-cut way to create. It depends on how the creative juices flow. “As I like to say” Sometimes I hear the music and write to it. Other times I create the music before I come to the studio. Sometimes the vibe in the studio is what gives birth to the music. It’s all art!!

Zen: What are your rehearsals generally like?
Niyola: My rehearsals are usually fun for me because I always want everything to be as close to perfect as can be if not perfect. It’s my passion, and I find joy every time I get a chance to sing with other musicians who are great at what they do.

Zen: Your biggest challenge as a musician?
Niyola: As a creative, one is always dissatisfied with one’s work for the reason that it can be better. Sometimes, it’s an issue because nobody else but you sees that dream and as such, one is made to seem crazy or overly demanding. Simply put, it’s challenging to get people to see the picture in one’s mind without seeming crazy.

RnB+Singer+Niyola+Interview+Zen+Magazine+Africa+2016 (4)“African fashion is expressive,” she says. Photographed
by Remi Adetiba, styled by Chyna Bee, make up Cape
by @ayovanelmar, dress by @indigoboutique

Zen: What advice do you have for people who want to get into music?
Niyola: Everyone has an opinion of what your talent should be moulded into and if you know who you are and yet be open minded to growth and new things, you may lose yourself and what’s a person without an identity? The ultimate advice is to find yourself and be true to your art regardless.

Zen: Let’s talk fashion! What’s your ideal style?
Niyola: My ideal style is comfort. I don’t follow trends, I only create a style that suits my persona both physically and mentally.

Zen: Do you have any favourite African designers?
Niyola: I love April by Kunbi, Ejiro Amos Tafiri, Ayo Van Elmar and Lsf Creations to mention a few.

Zen: Describe African fashion in 5 words
Niyola: African fashion is expressive, cultural, vibrant, elegant and bold.

Zen: How would you describe fashion in the city where you live?
Niyola: I live in Lagos and the fashion in Lagos is exquisite! No rules, just daring individuals.

Zen: Which fashion weeks do you follow across the continent?
Niyola: I follow the Lagos Fashion week a lot.


Zen: Any beauty secrets to share with our readers?
Niyola: I am not one to use many products but I believe in moisturising and cleansing of the skin twice or more daily. Especially with organic products.

Zen: How do you keep your skin glowing and radiant at all times?
Niyola: I keep it moisturised always and exfoliate often.

Zen: What songs are on your playlist right now?
Niyola: I have Titli by Gopi Sunder, Cirque du Soliel, Close to you by Rihanna, Sorry by Beyoncé, Daddy Lessons and so many more great songs.

Zen: Who would you love to work with musically?
Niyola: My list is endless though right now Bryson Tiller is on the top of my list.

RnB+Singer+Niyola+Interview+Zen+Magazine+Africa+2016 (5)Chic: Wearing a bold shade makeup in this shot. Photo by @oye_diran
make up @moshoodat hair by @auntiimarie

Zen: What do you think of Zen Magazine Africa?
Niyola: I think it’s a great platform and initiative to present Africa the right way to the world.

For more on Niyola, be sure to follow her social media networks!
On Facebook: Niyola | Twitter: @iamniyola | Instagram: Niyola