Rising R&B Singer-Songwriter Neila Talks Influences, Personal Journey, and Her ‘What’s Your Sign?’ EP

    Florida’s Neila is en-route to establishing herself as a household name with her intergalactic creativity.

    Florida’s music scene has always provided talent from Soundcloud legends like Kodak Black and XXXTentacion. Another artist generating a buzz in South Florida’s music scene is Neila.

    At only 26-years-old, Neila has established her unique sound that she fittingly named “pop-soul.” I was introduced to Neila’s music this year after hearing her single “Wanna Do It.” Amazed by the production and mesmerizing vocals and constantly hearing her name in the Atlanta music scene, I went on a research rabbit hole listening to her music. I was pleasantly surprised a couple of months later by the deluxe version of her EP, “What’s Your Sign?”

    I had the opportunity of catching up with Neila and discussing various topics such as her creative process, differences in the Atlanta and Miami music scene, and her favorite/least favorite zodiac signs. Check out the full interview down below and make sure to stream the deluxe version of “What’s Your Sign?”

    Recently, you released your deluxe to your 2020 project, “What’s Your Sign?” How do you feel about the current state of R&B? There is a lot of pushback to the new R&B generation and endless comparisons to 90s artists.

    I think R&B is doing great. There are so many amazing artists. I think people say shit for retweets at this point. I don’t pay any attention because great playlists highlight these artists, like you guys! They might not be household names yet, but they are getting there. Many amazing artists are going on tour or opening up for these bigger acts.

    Who would you say some of your R&B influences are?

    I grew up listening to a lot of different genres. R&B wise, like any other child who grew up in the 90s, definitely Aaliyah. A staple. Mainly because she was very prominent while I was growing up, and she was different. In the 90s, many female artists dressed conservatively, and she had her tummy out with baggy pants. I’m super eclectic, and fuck what everyone thinks the norm is. That always stood out to me at a young age. My older brother would sit me down and be like, okay, you’re going to learn this Aaliyah song today. Of course, I grew up also listening to Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and Maxwell. But also some classic rock. I am Caribbean, so Caribbean music, too. It was just a clash of so many different things. But Aaliyah was prominent. I didn’t even know what to do when she passed away, even though I was so young. I remember my mom explaining that to me while at a sleepover with my friends, and I started crying.

    Speaking of Aaliyah, how does it feel for Timbaland himself to shout you out on Instagram?

    Oh my God, at first, I was like, is this real? It took a second for it to process for me. I sent it to my manager and my mom. Just grateful. Happy to know that I am being seen. The most amazing feeling is to be seen, heard, and recognized as an artist. That’s not all I do it for, but it sure makes my heart warm.

    I saw that you modeled for Adidas. How did that transpire?

    I have modeled for Nike a few times and appeared in a Sprite commercial. I get asked to be in stuff like that because of my aesthetic. Especially being an R&B artist and looking like this. My photographer BANVOA was contacted by Adidas and was like, “you have to do this, something based on your aesthetic.” I said, of course; this is dope! So it was a team effort.

    It seems like you have a close-knit relationship with your team and lead these creative conversations with the direction.

    I do everything you see that is creatively directed. I have an amazing-super-ridiculous team that can help bring life to my ideas. But I am hands-on and technologically helpful. I might help my photographer edit some pictures, and we go back and forth. I am good at doing my makeup, but my makeup artist(s) are excellent and bring my creative ideas to life on my face. But yes, I have a fantastic team. Plus, I love visual art, too, and expressing myself that way is amazing. I got these downloads of images in my head, so it’s cool to see them come to life. My team executes things better than I can imagine. God set me up on that one.

    I understand your alien aesthetic, and it is your name spelled backward. The quality of all your assets is A1. It’s immaculate because no one else has anything close to it. Who had the idea to go with the retro/vintage alien look compared to the more futuristic alien look?

    It came to me in a dream. But I had a long reel session and came home. Mind you; this is 2019. I knocked out, and I woke up with blue images and blue background singers. At this time, my song “Stupid MF” was already made, and I’m like yeah, this is fire. When I woke up, I expanded on it. That’s how the video came about. The only change was no background singers because of COVID. But that’s how that came about. It came to me in a dream. I’m very spiritual, so I feel like my spiritual guides were like, here you go, run with this. I want to say it’s all me, but certain things just get downloaded in my head, and I expand on it.

    While on the topic, what do your studio sessions look like? What does it take for you to lock in creatively?

    I wouldn’t say I like a lot of people in my sessions. I like it very small. I’m not too fond of an audience because I am figuring stuff out. I’m a Capricorn, so I favor not showing people things that aren’t done yet. I do have people in there helping me. But if you aren’t actively working, you’re not there. Also, I don’t smoke either, so it’s not a party environment. We are in here working, and we’re going to laugh. It’s me, my engineer, and a friend who helps vocal produce. Sometimes it’s just my engineer and me. I might vocal produce and bring it to friends, and they help me add stuff. I like shit to smell good, so I am constantly spraying scents. I used to do incense but stopped because I am sensitive to smoke. Bath & Body Works have these intense spritzers, and I spray that. I might also meditate before I go to the studio.

    Do you have an aroma that you like more?

    I like things with marshmallows and vanilla in them. 

    You just mentioned that you’re a Capricorn, and your EP is called “What’s Your Sign?” So I have to ask, what are your favorite signs and least favorite?

    I am an Capricorn-Aquarius cusp. Bless their [Aquarius] soul. So I can understand to a certain extent. But I am very heavy on communication. Aquariuses are not. They want people to figure stuff out, and I am not psychic. You have to talk to me. That is my pet peeve with Aquariuses. Sometimes Geminis get on my nerves. And a lot of my close friends are Gemini, and so is my little brother. No shade, no tea, I still love them. When it comes to astrology, people forget that nurture is involved. So the environment you grew up in and how you were raised is based on how someone acts. There is an entire birth chart that also relays so many different things. Someone’s Sun sign and Star sign might be a minor portion compared to everything else in their life.

    I know you were raised in Florida but live in Atlanta, GA. Can you talk about the differences in the music scene and which one you prefer?

    I am from South Florida. I grew up in Broward County. Then I went to college in Miami at FIU. I think for a while, Florida struggled with creating a music scene. Many people believe Art Basel was designed for music, but it was exceptionally fine-art oriented. Eventually, more music got associated with Art Basel. But while I was there, it wasn’t that much going on music-wise. But compared to Atlanta, where there are so many different outlets and different showcases. And just so many different things you can do that you can’t do in Florida. The internet helped other South Florida artists like Kodak and XXXTentacion. But Atlanta is a beautiful place where independent artists and everybody gets love. The love here in Atlanta is a lot different. People are just more willing to support. Atlanta shows a lot of love, and I love being here. I’ve grown so much while being here that I wouldn’t have done it if I was still in Florida. I’m super grateful for Atlanta, regardless of whether I live here forever because I hope to move to LA soon. Atlanta is so beautiful, and I don’t know if there is any place like it.

    What can we expect from you in this new year?

    “What’s Your Sign?” just dropped with many outstanding features. Make sure to check it out! We also do have some visuals coming. They are already shot and are being edited. That will drop at the beginning of the year. I have some singles dropping throughout the year. I have an EP that is done that will be dropping as well. We are loaded up and want to be very consistent in 2022—also, possibilities of me going on tour if COVID lets up. Regardless, next year will be such an amazing year.


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