Naomi Lareine is known for her bitter-sweet dulcet tones that sit perfectly amidst her sophisticated, R&B-tinged releases. A clear star on the rise, the young singer is recognized as one of Switzerland’s most promising voices and is starting to make her name on the international stage. Alongside her achievements in music, Naomi isn’t afraid to fight for a better world. She stands up for human rights, women’s rights, and social acceptance of all. We had the pleasure to talk with Naomi about her new single and dip into her world of creativity and life.
Hey Naomi, thanks for speaking to Celebmix today! Please give us an introduction on your story and the music you make!
Hiii, my name is Naomi Lareine. I was born and raised in Zurich, Switzerland and my roots are in Switzerland, Senegal and Mauritania: My dad’s Swiss and my mum’s from Africa. I call my genre “new r&b pop”.
From your initial singles ‘Issa Vibe’ and ‘Sweet Latina’ to the upcoming EP ‘Girl Next Door’, how do you think your approach to creating music has evolved throughout your career so far?
I think I’ve gotten more mature in the sense that I’ve learned – and overcome – a lot. The way I work when creating music is still the same, but I’m a lot more experienced now.
What were your main influences in the creation of the upcoming EP? Is there a particular anecdote you can tell us that has really influenced the sound of any of the songs off the EP?
Definitely my girlfriend! Let me explain: In real life, the ‘Girl Next Door’ is my now-girlfriend Gina. When I moved out from my grandmother’s house and got my very first apartment, I first met Gina as my neighbor. We became friends… but nothing more and I was in a relationship at the time, anyway. But then my relationship ended and my friendship with Gina grew, and at some point, the energy between us changed and suddenly, we were more than just friends. I wasn’t really sure about what was going on, and I wasn’t really ready to fully commit. Everything I’ve ever wanted was literally right next door: the sweetest, most loyal, and all-over best human being I’ve ever met. So, once I realized that, I fell in love with her instantly. And now, we live together!
This is your debut EP, how has the creative process differed this time around compared to when you release a single?
Actually it‘s my second EP. My first one was called Unchained. My last EP was my way to get over my last relationship. It was really toxic, and I was in a bad place. But now, Girl Next Door is kind of a new me! Musically, I only worked with my main producer Mykel Costa and we wanted to show different facets of mine. For example, on this EP, we have the typical Naomi Lareine sound, but I blended it with Amapiano, r&b and pop. I like to mix things up and try new stuff out, that’s how I grow.
If you could describe ‘Girl Next Door’ in 3 words, what would those 3 words be?
Honest, fresh, diverse.
As a musician, COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns were obviously hard for you as they were for everyone, how do you feel like they affected your creativity if at all?
Looking back, I think I was very creative during that time period, because there were a lot of really strong emotions inside of me.
If you could collaborate with one artist, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Alicia Keys. She’s my idol and basically my “mother in music”.
How would you describe your collaborations with Cella and Mykel Costa, regular collaborators and friends of yours, how did these partnerships come about and what did you learn from the experience?
I first met Cella briefly at an event, where we started talking and ended up doing a song together. It happened very quickly (hahha). With Mykel Costa, it goes much deeper. We started doing music together eight years ago and have been working closely ever since.
Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?
Hopefully, I’ll have been able to travel around the world with my music. Playing stadiums! But most importantly: happy and healthy.
Coming from Zurich, can you name any main influences from your hometown, or home country, and describe the effect these artists have had on you?
I have a friend and mentor called «Stress» (his stage name), who’s one of the biggest artists in Switzerland. He gives me great advice when I need it and I‘m really lucky to have him by my side.
I’d say your vocal style is very neo-soul meets pop and R&b, do you have a favorite artist or album from these genres? Who inspired you musically growing up?
I could name so many, but one of my all-time favorite artists is Justin Timberlake and his album “Futuresex/Lovesounds”. I’ve been heavily influenced by that time period (Usher, Chris Brown etc.).
And on your latest single ‘Just Met’ you explored a more dance and house-orientated sound, what made you want to take this path? Please can you also give us some context on what the song is directly about, from yourself?
Mykel and I wanted to create a very vibe-y, danceable song that takes us more in a pop direction. It’s about when I fell in love with my girlfriend. We knew each other already and were already fast friends, but when we started dating, everything felt like we had just met.
Please tell us a fact about you we may not know!
I’ve never had a gig in the UK. I’d love to play here!
Finally, what do you hope people take away from your ‘Girl Next Door’ EP?
I hope people have fun with my songs, and for those who need it, I hope they feel encouraged to be exactly who they truly are.