Los Angeles-based R&B/pop singer-songwriter Fiz Nyxx releases her brand-new album, Red Umbrella, a collection of eight imaginative tracks exploring and celebrating being “full color in a black and white world.”
Initially, a dancer, Nyxx’s career shifted gears when she became part of EDM/pop trio, SHE, and toured throughout the U.S. and Asia, followed by releasing her solo album, Everything Girl, which drips with the old soul essence of Motown.
With Red Umbrella, Nyxx reveals not only her captivating, sultry voice, but delectable forays into various stylistic influences – jazz, pop, R&B, and soul. Highlights on the album include the shimmering textures of “Still Love You,” the delicious soul/funk flavors of “Don’t Shame Me,” the low-slung, seductive “AEIOU,” the lingering, sensual flow of the title track, and the Latin-laced sensuality of “Devour.”
CelebMix caught up with Fia Nyxx to find out more about the person behind the music, the inspiration for Red Umbrella, and the genesis of her luscious sound.
What inspired your upcoming album, Red Umbrella?
I had just moved back to LA from my hometown of Denver (for the second time), and I was feeling really caught in between two worlds. I had lived in LA before but had been gone long enough for all my friends to have moved on with their lives. Places looked different, everything had changed, nothing was recognizable. On the other hand, I had outgrown my life in Denver and that didn’t quite feel like home either. I remember, one day, in particular, feeling really lost. It was pouring rain. I sat at my keyboard, in my tiny LA apartment, and very softly, solemnly found a few chords that matched my mood, all the while listening to the sound of the rain. There was a blanket draped across my bed that my mom had given me. The blanket has a black and white photo of the Eiffel tower with a crimson red umbrella on the ground underneath it. At that moment I felt like that umbrella… bright red, a total outcast, a standout – full color in a black and white world. It felt solemn and scary but there was also strength in being so singular, so different. There was a story there. I was the red umbrella. As I kept listening to the rain, I realized that no matter what transpired, and how much changed, there would always be two consistencies … First, I would always be the red umbrella, the safe, recognizable ME that I had come to know and rely on, the ME that resides at the core of who I am, despite any ego-driven, artificial changes I may go through, the ME that provided my own safe haven. I am terrified but brave, alone but very much unified with everyone else who feels alone or lonely. I am bright and confident but entirely vulnerable … and second … no matter where in the world I was, I would always recognize that beautiful sound of the rain; That was the sound of home. It was from this raw moment, this new beginning, this transition, that Red Umbrella would begin to unfold and become what is now the story of my life told through music, the unveiling of the woman I’ve become on my journey along a path less traveled, now to be shared by so many.
Take us through your mindset as you entered the recording studio?
The pandemic hit shortly after I started writing new music. My entire tour had been canceled and I was left with a lot of time on my hands and way too much pent-up creativity, too many thoughts and unresolved feelings. Now there were no harsh deadlines to meet, no pressure to produce music, and not even the usual voices around me trying to control my creativity. No one was telling me that I had to fit a specific genre. There was no pressure, no “agenda” to chart or be competitive from a commercial/pop-music standpoint, so I just started creating for the fun of it again. Something about that freedom renewed my creativity and unleashed a ton of previously stifled potential. I was trying new things vocally, experimenting with different sounds, meshing influences of mine that by no means should have worked as well together as they did, and my producer was 100% on board, bringing my thoughts and ideas to life with his own creative twist. We approached every recording session with these goals: we wanted to try everything, get weird, make mistakes, push our boundaries, and mostly, enjoy the hell out of the process… And we did just that.
Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Actually, I love Red Umbrella for the fact that the album is greater than the sum of its parts. Individually the songs are strong but the story that they tell collectively, and the magic that unfolds as a whole body of work, is what makes this more than an album. It’s a journey, an experience. If I had to pick a favorite part of the journey, I would say either “My One Forever,” or “Red Umbrella.”
Your sound encompasses myriad flavors, ranging from jazz, pop, R&B, and soul. Did your sound develop naturally over time, or did you push it to be diverse?
I never pushed myself to become so cross-genre, it was more that I stopped limiting myself. I started playing again and fell back in love with music and the power it holds. I created just to create because I loved making music, and it felt good to my soul. Suddenly the flood gates opened and a lifetime’s worth of influences, inspirations, likes (and dislikes) came pouring out into my work.
What do you want people to take away from your music?
I want them to see themselves when they hear my music. I want them to relate and know that even when you feel “alone” you aren’t, you are held up by the united masses of those who have ever felt alone. I want them to recognize that when you feel empowered and are celebrating yourself, standing in your light, you are in your highest vibration, your divine-feminine, fulfilling your greatest purpose. It’s when you unconditionally love yourself that you can unconditionally love others. I want to promote the idea that you can embrace your spirituality and live in the light of God, while also enjoying this world for its earthly pleasures. You can make mistakes. You are figuring it out. You can explore your sexuality and liberate yourself. It’s healthy and natural. You can be spiritual, divine, confident, self-loving, sexual, liberated, fun, wild, and free. You are supposed to be a human in this human experience. These things, these aspects of ourselves, are not mutually exclusive but rather complement each other and make up the incredible, diverse beings that we are.
What got you into music?
Growing up, I was a competitive dancer. It was always my dream to move to LA to pursue a career in dance and that was something I did rather successfully. I always thought that dance was my greatest passion until the day I stepped into my first sound booth. I had just become the third member of EDM/Pop girl group, SHE, and was singing for the first time professionally. Nothing lit me up like music did, and now singing and songwriting allowed me to, quite literally, tell my story in a way I hadn’t been able to before as a backup dancer. I realized that in making music I could control how I wanted my listeners to feel. I could dictate their experience and take them on a journey. Music is like empathy in sonic form. From that moment on my entire focus was becoming a solo artist so that I could make the music I wanted to make… and so the journey began.
Which artists/musicians had the most impact on your sound?
My dad raised me on Motown music (Stevie Wonder, Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Etta James) and my mom was into southern rock and roll (Lynyrd Skynyrd, REO Speedwagon). This definitely shaped my taste in music. In general, I have always been drawn to strong female vocalists, but my top two artists of all time are actually Prince and Queen. I recorded my first album, Everything Girl, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama at FAME Studios, and was lucky enough to have “The Swampers” play on my tracks with Will McFarlane as my musical director. Some of my more modern-day influences are Christina Aguilera, Amy Winehouse, Alicia Keys, H.E.R, Sabrina Claudio.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
I think Doja Cat is IT! She is a star performer with incredible music ability and no shortage of ideas! I am a big fan of everything JP Cooper does, as well as James Blake. I love mainstream music, but some of my favorite music is a little undiscovered as of yet. Shout out to Jegasie. He’s one of my favorite new artists and I’m lucky enough to have him on my track, “My One Forever.” This kid is the next big thing, mark my words. If you don’t know him yet, you will.
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, TV, or other media?
Inspiration comes from anything and everything going on around me. I mostly pull from real-life experiences since I am usually writing as a way to process or cope with something very real. I’ve definitely had writing sessions where I don’t have something super pressing on my mind, and it is harder for me to pull it out of nowhere. I can do it, and do it often as a songwriter, but I prefer to write when I’m inspired and it’s real and authentic. My most successful music has been made that way.
What can you share about your writing process?
I almost always start at my piano and find a simple melody that matches the mood I am going for. It’s usually a basic chord progression that I then begin to expand on. It always comes out of nowhere, and I mention this in just about every interview, but I truly feel like I am channeling something much bigger than myself when I sit down to write. I start to sing over it (no words in particular at first.) I’m such a melody writer (and lover) that, for me, this is the part where I can tell if I have something good or not. In my opinion, a strong melody is a strong song. Of course, you have to follow it up with great lyrics, but if the melody doesn’t move you to the core then who cares. I don’t. From there I write the lyrics and start to see the full picture of the story and how it progresses. I take the first draft to my producer and he gives it a fresh listen and builds upon my idea, breathing new life into the song. We work together to take the song where it needs to go. Some songs change tempos, most change instrumentation. We build and grow and expand. The actual process is incredible because a song can change a thousand times and really isn’t ever done until you decide it is great.
What can your fans expect over the next six months? New material? Live gigs?
I am very excited for the next 6 months! Coming out of the pandemic, my team and I are fired up and ready to go! Tour dates are filling in and will be announced soon on all my social media, but we are making stops in Colorado (Denver, Colorado Springs, Parker), California (Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Echo Park), Las Vegas, NYC, and more. I also have a few singles releasing before the end of the year that I am very excited about. One in particular that I am the most excited about is my upcoming single with Bobby Newberry, out this summer 2022! You’re going to be hearing this dance track in all the nightclubs and at your favorite festivals so get ready for a hot summer bop (and an even hotter video!)