Interview: Nikki Reed
Tue, 16 Dec 2014 09:20:38
Ellie Goulding Photos
Ellie Goulding Videos
If you sit with Nikki Reed for even a few minutes, you'll notice something about her. She can speak intelligently on anything from literature to animal rights to music. Few artists possess that capability to seamlessly transition from such a diverse myriad of subjects. She talks with conviction, and she knows how to tell a story too, which she does effortlessly while sitting in The Grove in Los Angeles on a midweek afternoon.
However, that's just a glimpse at who she is. It goes even deeper. Nikki remains one of the 21st century's true renaissance women. Not only is she a big screen star with a prolific resume, but she's a writer, songstress, and singer. That brings us to her new single "Fly With You." It's just as all-encompassing, seguing from a soulful swoon into an EDM break that's simply undeniable. Moreover, it also benefits Wildlife Waystation in Southern California, making it even more special.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Nikki Reed talks "Fly With You", and so much more.
"Fly With You" seamlessly merges genres that seem like they wouldn't coalesce so well...
Having a crazy vision is what that's called [Laughs]. Then, I've got people around me who are willing to help me execute that—or try to.
Did you approach the song with that vision?
I had that in my head. I sort of knew what I wanted going into it, and I knew the people I needed to approach to help me execute that. Stefano Langone and Dave'Ron Madden [aka DMadd] are two very talented individuals, and I knew they were experienced in those areas. I thought it would be a really great collaboration with the three of us together.
Was the chemistry instant in the studio?
There was one conversation before. Then, I went in the studio, and we completed the song in one session. We were there all night, but it was still one session.
What's the story behind the song lyrically?
Most of what I write is generally really personal. Not that this doesn't come from a place of lyrical depth and honesty because it absolutely does, this song for me was more about embodying a character and someone who's sexy, confident, direct, and speaks with conviction. It's opposed to what I normally write which is much more elusive and poetic.
Do you want to carry that character through more music?
I don't know. Every song is its own thing, but I'm definitely going in this direction of feeling music as a whole experience in your body and moving. Obviously, my favorite thing in the whole world is folky, indie, artsy music. However, this is the direction I'm going in right now.
Were you listening to more electronic music?
A little bit…it's very mainstream and trendy right now. I was feeling different artists like Ellie Goulding who are experimenting with that. I'm more about the feeling a song evokes as opposed to what notes and what range. If you feel the kind of music I make, that's awesome. It was about trying something new. The repetition is different in this kind of song. You repeat a lot, and it's about the flow of the music.
It feels like a seamless transition.
Yeah! It's still the same thing, which is honest, raw, and organic vocals. It's just the surrounding elements are changed and amplified.
What did you grow up listening to?
I grew up listening to all kinds of music. It was mostly stuff my mom was really into. It was a lot of Madonna and Whitney Houston. Those women are incredible, but I don't sound anything like them. When I got older, artists like Laura Marling and people I felt like were speaking poetry inspired me to write, and writing inspired music. I have a very unconventional process, and structure doesn't mean much to me in terms of songwriting. I think that's evident here too. The song has its own life. It does what it wants, and it doesn't follow a model.
How did your partnership with Wildlife Waystation come about?
It's an animal sanctuary that's always meant a lot to me. I'm obviously a big supporter of animal rights and giving animals a voice. I've been this way my whole life with rescuing, adopting, fostering, and all kinds of stuff. This particular place is very special. Martine Colette started this place in 1976. They've saved over 70,000 animals. I decided to release the song when I did at the last second because I wanted the song to benefit the Waystation. We need to raise $250,000 to get permits for it.
How does your writing process work?
I can't write lyrics to a structure that already exists or some melody that's already there. I write lyrics and then find the music later. I'm a writer first. I'm not a musician. I'm more of a writer who has this great admiration and love for music. That's how I end up writing music. It's through writing anything.
Is there a cross-section between acting and music?
They all cross. For example, my process is different approaching a film. I spend three, four, or five weeks working with my coach and breaking down every single line of a script so I'm over prepared. I know exactly what I'm doing. I can live and breathe this character. A song is different. I write lyrics, and then I get into a studio. Whatever I feel is what happens, and you hope for magic.
Do you tend to read a lot?
I try. It's so funny because that's my favorite topic ever. Albert Camus is one of my favorite writers—The Fall, The Stranger, and Exile and the Kingdom. Milan Kundera is one of my favorite writers. I try to read as much as I possibly can. It's becoming more and more difficult with the amount of scripts your sent. Reading for work instead of reading pleasure…it's tough to find the time. Everything I'm doing, I'm multitasking. I like to read everything.
What's next for you?
I have a movie called Murder of a Cat that just came out. Sam Raimi produced, and his wife Gillian Greene directed. It stars myself and Greg Kinnear. I have a movie I produced coming out called Enter The Dangerous Mind. It's a really dark twisted film. It does involve music, but it also is a really crazy journey into the mind of one very sick individual. If you're not into dark, twisted things, it's not for you. I did a movie called Intramural with a lot of the cast from SNL. Then, I did a movie called Scout I'm very proud of because I'm a big fan of female directors. Her name is Laurie Weltz. It's so interesting and different from anything I've ever done. There's a lot happening!
Have you heard "Fly With You"?
See our review of "Fly With You" here!
Get it on iTunes!