Singer/Songwriter/Pianist Nikki Flores Talks Writing for Christina Aguilera, K.Michelle & JoJo, Working With Blake Stranathan & The Family, and More
Children learn to speak before they can write. As for singer/songwriter Nikki Flores, her writing abilities seem to have blossomed at birth. The talented Fontana, California native has a wide range of talents whose lyrics has gotten the attention of singers such as Christina Aguilera and K.Michelle, and voice that’s captivated the hearts of Blake Stranathan, who has worked with Lana Del Rey and The Family, who’s worked with Fifth Harmony.
The artist is currently working on her upcoming album and with the ability and voice to reach out to the girl who just had her heart broken or ended a rocky relationship, we can only expect for our girl to pour her heart out in every song.
-Who is Nikki Flores? Likes? Dislikes? Pet peeves? Favorite movie, color, food? Etc…
I’m a singer songwriter from Fontana, California. I’ve been in love with music since I was a kid.
I’m a sucker for love and coffee, none of my music would be possible without those two things. (Laughs)
I like real people, mexican food, 80s music, wine, shoes, emojis, reading random threads of Facebook comments, and anything that has to do with space and nature.
Dislikes arreee….. bad winged eyeliner days, public bathrooms, and surface conversations.
My favorite color is probably black… 90% of the clothes in my closet are black.
-You sing, song write, and play the piano. Are there any other secret talents you’re hiding?
I’m pretty good at darts, none of my friends have been able to beat me yet. Annnd I really love photography.
-Who are some of your musical influences?
My parents met in a battle of the bands in the 80s, and when I was born I was always around music. They raised me on stuff like The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, U2, and Journey, and then as I got older I started gravitating towards Mariah Carey, John Mayer, Brandy and Justin Timberlake… Right now I’m really into Frank Ocean, Miguel, Kanye West, Lana Del Rey, The Internet and The 1975. I have so many.
-You’ve written for artists like K.Michelle, Jojo, Christina Aguilera, and so forth. What’s your inspiration behind writing songs for certain artists? Do they tell you what type of vibe they are aiming for? Or do you write music and pitch it to certain artists?
It kinda happens differently every time but I prefer writing with the artist in the room. Empty Words for Christina was originally written in a writing camp for Leona Lewis and she didn’t take the song, so my publishers sent it in for Christina. That was huge for me because it was my first big cut and I was a die-hard Christina fan growing up.
Jojo has been so much fun, after her label loved Save My Soul for her, they put us in the studio to write a bunch more together for her upcoming record. She’s such a beast. She has such a strong vision, such great ideas as a writer, and has one of the best voices I’ve ever worked with in the studio.
Roses with Nas was insane for me because I didn’t know he was coming to the studio to hear what I had written with Elijah Blake for him. He came in and heard what I had recorded on the chorus and was like that’s you? I said yeah and he was like cool I wanna leave your voice on the song, I’m gonna take it and write to it in the car. I was like wtf no way. I still can’t believe that happened.
-You’ve covered songs by Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, and so forth. What’s your favorite song you’ve covered and wrote and produced?
The one that I just put out, Feels by Kiiara is my favorite because Blake and I made it more my own vibe with new production and I wrote my own verse to it. It just feels more personal than just a cover and its reminiscent of my upcoming EP in a lot of ways.
I loved doing the acappella version of Always Be My Baby too because working out all of the harmonies was so much fun for me. I looooove vocal production.
-Who do you write for? Heartbroken girl? Single woman? The girl in love?
I always try to write whatever I’m going through or whatever is inspiring me at the moment. Love is a powerful thing to draw from, but pain is usually more powerful for me. I got out of a really long relationship and ended up writing the majority of my EP about it. I wasn’t even focused on being an artist until that fire was lit again. All of a sudden I had so much to say, like I was slowly reentering my own body. It was exactly what I needed to write and finally release my first project this year.
-What do you want listeners to gain or take from listening to your music?
I guess the same things I feel when I listen to the music I love. An escape, serenity in knowing you’re not the only person feeling the way you do.. Something that gives a clear voice to emotions that are too cluttered or complex to explain. That’s what it did for me, writing this EP was like my therapist getting me over a chapter in my life that I had to let go of. Listening back to it is like hearing myself heal and become so much stronger. I know who I am today and that’s more than I could say a year ago when I started writing it.
-What’s the best advice you’ve given someone and we’re given?
Hmmmm…My dad always tells me “keep building your house”, hypothetically speaking, no matter who is stealing your bricks or breaking windows or whatever just to keep building. I’ve been signed and dropped a couple of times, and been through so much in this business that made me want to quit or made me feel inadequate, but I always kept building. I’m nowhere near where I want to be yet, but I’m definitely on the right track.
The best advice I’ve given I think is to truly know and love yourself. I used to let my happiness depend on someone else, and I had no idea how much power I was giving up by doing that. When you’re honest with yourself, and aware of your feelings, I think it elevates you and makes you an even better conduit for positivity in the world.
-For your upcoming album you’re working with Blake Stranathan, who’s worked with Lana Del Rey, and The family, who’s worked with fifth harmony. What’s that like? Any collaborations?
They’re all my angels. “The Family” is and incredible team of producer/writers from Stockholm, and they’re literally like family to me. They really let me run with this project and were there to support me the whole way. I felt so comfortable being vulnerable with them which is what allowed me to even start the record. I love them so much.
I don’t even know where to start with Blake… He’s the brain behind everything. I’ve never clicked with someone like I do with him… We have so many of the same instincts and influences it’s like he’s in my head. He’s one of the coolest and most talented people I’ve ever worked with. The way they all believe in me and are so down to be involved makes me wanna cry. I’m so lucky.
As far as collabs I would love to have a feature on the record! Someone like J Cole, or Bryson Tiller would be amazinggg.
-Do you think RnB music is missing anything? How do you feel it has changed in the last few years?
R&B seems like it’s getting more and more experimental.. Genres are stretching and merging into new genres, it’s so much fun to be a fan of music right now. I would say I do miss those insane guy singers in r&b like Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, Musiq Soulchild, Babyface and stuff like that. Ooh and good duets, like I’m such a sucker for One Sweet Day. I’d love for that to be cool again. lol
-Where do you see yourself five, ten, fifteen years from now?
I would love to be a few albums deep in the next 5 years, and to be touring a lot.. To really have a shot at this. I live for music and love, so if I get to be surrounded by both of those things in the future I’ll be set.
I’m starting meetings about the first video for the EP this week!! I’ve waited sooooo long to actually put something out, after labels not letting me release any of my albums it’s gonna be a dream for me to finally get this out into the world. I want to put the first song and video out around summer and have the entire EP out in the fall/winter.
-Anything else you would like to add/say?
Interviewed by: Simone Grant