Words – Joshua Weaver

 

It hardly seems like a decade has passed since identical twins Nicole and Natalie Albino popped onto the scene as Nina Sky. “Move Ya Body,” the April 2004 debut release by the duo, was an easy hit, swiftly rising among the Billboard pack with its reggaeton and dancehall influences. The single, which topped out the Billboard Hot 100 at number four, is a brilliantly packaged pop song with a veritably catchy refrain, a simple lyrical structure and the club-ready Coolie Dance riddim sample that saw its first ray of mainstream notoriety with Sean Paul’s 2003 “Feel Alright.”

 

The duo’s 2004 self-titled debut, however,  would be the only album released under their contract with Universal. The six years that came and went in between Nina Sky’s first album and their 2010 EP The Other Side brought a lot of changes – not only for Natalie and Nicole, who ditched their label and went independent – but also for music.

 

Myriad new ways of distribution and publicity, as well as a newfangled music culture brought on by the then-emerging social Web, gave artists an out from the often rigid regime of record labels (especially for up-and-coming talent). Music culture grew up, and so did Nina Sky, whose style and influences have since been impacted both by the everyday  progression of being artists and by the twins’ reclamation of their own style and sound.

 

The duo’s sound is clearly grown up, while confidently still possessing an air of pop. From DJ-ready bangers to R&B-drenched tracks, Nina Sky’s 2012 Nicole & Natalie represents an eclectic reintroduction to the pair. And, with a new project slated for release this summer, as well as the release of their new single “OVERTIME,” Nicole and Natalie are marching solidly forward along their very own trajectory. VNDL caught up with Nina Sky – here’s what they had to say about their evolving sound, experimenting with different genres, the pros and cons of going the independent route, and more.

 

It’s been about a decade since you guys jumped into the music scene. A lot has changed in the industry since 2004, in particular, it seems a lot easier today to experiment with a variety of sounds without compromising commercial success. As you two grow up, how has your perspective and process changed when it comes to creating music?  

Natalie:  I think a part of growing is being comfortable in your own skin and not being scared to experiment – it was a natural progression for us. In 2004, we came out with “Move Ya Body”;  but, in the following years, we collaborated on songs with NORE & Daddy Yankee, The Alchemist, Sean Paul, Aventura, Major Lazer, Creep, Action Bronson and many international artists. All of the songs were different genres, so we’ve always been open to experimenting.  Embracing all genres, experimenting with new sounds, being open to all the inspiration around us – that has always been our process.

You gifted fans with a little Christmas present – dropping your newest, Slimmy Neutron-produced single, OVERTIME. The track features a new, more cavernous and atmospheric sound (not to mention quite sexy – a definite bedroom track) than most Nina Sky fans are used to. The song seems like a departure from the big studio sound and club bangers off Nicole and Natalie, and your previous EPs.

 

What were some influences that went into this latest track, and where are you guys going with your forthcoming tracks? What are some of the new sounds you all are experimenting with?

Nicole: We’re an R&B based group. With “OVERTIME,”  we wanted to create a track that was melodic, but [that] also had the kind of beat that makes you bounce. Our new tracks all have that feel. They’re not necessarily fist pumping “club jams,” but, if played at the right time in the club, they’ll still bang!

natalie

 

With any artist or group that gets their start at such a young age, it’s interesting to see their growth both through their music and art form, but also through their style and substance. You two grew from the “Move Ya Body,” reggaeton twins to veritable music and style influencers. For one, where do you guys get your enviable fashion sense? And, how do visuals and the visual aesthetic influence your music and performance? 

Natalie: When we initially entered the business, everything was pretty much curated for us. We had stylists, people dressing us, people telling us what to say, what to sing. A part of growing up was taking back our style and our sound and really allowing the public to see who Nina Sky were directly – Nicole and Natalie.

 

Our personal styles have always been a mix of all of the different energies of NYC – Uptown meets Downtown, with influences from the many places we’ve traveled throughout the years. There’s no real process though. Trial and Error. Put it on, see how you feel, if you feel good – you look good. Confidence exudes beauty.

 

You guys have been very vocal about your move away from major labels. What was the importance for you two to go the independent route? What are some of the struggles of having everything in your hands? What are some of the big gains you guys have experience since ditching a label?

Natalie: It wasn’t necessarily important for us to “go the independent route.” It was important for us to be able to create the kind of music that moved us with the support from a label that believed in our project. Unfortunately, we had creative differences with the labels we were signed to. So, at that point, we decided to release music independently. The benefit of being signed to a label is having all of the resources of the label – a PR Person, an A&R, someone to take care of the budgets, etc. But, the benefit of being independent is learning how to do all those things on your own.

 

Being independent hasn’t only helped our growth creatively, it has really helped mold us into the business women we are today – learning the ropes of the music business, taking our projects into our own hands with the help of an awesome team of people that believe in our visions and work side by side with us instead of telling us what to do.

 

Currently, we co-manage ourselves, and everything Nina Sky has been touched by Nicole and Natalie. We are blessed to have awesome fans that have supported us from the beginning to keep us motivated as well. All of this makes every accomplishment much more gratifying knowing we had to work that much harder to achieve it.  To have released our first album in 2004 and now, in 2014, 10 year later, to still be making music and touring the world is a great feeling. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll go back to a label; we aren’t opposed to it. But, we are very  lucky to have experienced independence, [and] we can go back into that situation much smarter.

nicole22

Many people have recognized a noticeable change in your overall sound in the past few years  – some calling your sound more aggressive, more robust. Does this have anything to do with you guys moving away from labels/gaining more creative license?

Nicole: It’s been 10 years since our first release. We’ve traveled the world, we’re married now, Natalie’s expecting her first child in March, we’ve experienced many things in our lives that have influenced our growth. Our creativity and how we express ourselves is more related to life experiences than anything else. We have so much inspiration around us; we’ve grown as woman, and [we’re] still evolving on the daily.

 

You guys are best friends (not to mention you spent nine months in the womb together). How do you two juggle being sisters, besties, bandmates and business partners all at once? 

Natalie: It’s not hard. As long as we don’t allow one relationship to affect the other, we’re good. Business is business; family is family. Who wouldn’t want to work with their best friend? Obviously, we don’t always agree and sometimes our personalities clash, but having a strong mutual respect for one another definitely helps keep the peace.

 

There are so many artist (you two among them) out there that are really changing the music game by not being afraid to experiment and investigate novel pairings of sounds, beats and production styles. Who are some of the new acts that you guys have your eyes on?

Nicole: Some of the artists that I’ve been enjoying a lot recently are Keys n Krates, Dev Hynes [also known as Blood Orange] and Leikeli47.

 

What’s in the cards for Nina Sky in 2014?

Nicole: Currently,  we’re recording a new project, hopefully,  to be released by summer 2014. And, as always, you can catch us in a city near you either DJing or performing.

 

 

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.