Naia Lika is an up-and-coming artist who has made her mark in the music industry with her unique blend of R&B and pop.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Lika’s early love for musical theatre and her journey through self-discovery have both shaped her sound and her artistry.
Growing up, Lika’s parents encouraged her passion for musical theatre, leading her to study at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee College of Music. However, during her time at college, she began to question her own identity and her place in the world. This led to a period of self-reflection, during which she came to the realization that she was bisexual.
Leaving college to move back to Los Angeles was a pivotal moment for Lika, as it marked the start of her journey as an independent artist. Throughout the pandemic, she honed her craft and found solace in creating music for the first time, drawing inspiration from artists like Remi Wolf, Dua Lipa, Leon Bridges, and YEBBA.
Lika’s sound is a blend of old-fashioned soul, R&B, and pop, characterized by its honesty and passionate delivery. Her debut single, “Gas Station Bouquet,” is a testament to her unique style and the emotional depth she brings to her music.
As a twenty-one-year-old, Lika is making her mark in the music industry and has already garnered attention for her dynamic sound and raw emotional delivery. In a recent interview, she spoke candidly about her journey as an artist and her hopes for the future.
With a bright future ahead of her, Naia Lika is one to watch in the coming years. Her unique blend of musical influences, emotional depth, and undeniable talent make her a standout in the crowded music scene.
Who are your biggest musical influences?
When it comes to the overall vibe of my music, I love the realm of Remi Wolf, Amelia Moore, Dua Lipa, and Leon Bridges.
Vocally, I take a lot of inspiration from Ariana Grande, Beyonce, YEBBA, and Adele. I want my music to be groovy and fun while maintaining vocal health, technique, and agility.
What inspired you to write your latest album/song?
My latest song, “Gas Station Bouquet” derives from an eight-song project I created with my team last year. Since this is my first project, we wanted to pinpoint eight different, significant aspects of my life that we could turn into their own songs.
In this song specifically, I wanted to write about something good in my life. I often focus so much on the negatives and bring much weight to them, but I wanted to give space for the positives as well.
What message do you hope to convey through your music?
It’s important to honour and validate all emotions: good or bad. I usually put so much pressure on writing things that are extremely emotionally evoking or writing something that has brought me pain in my life and it made me forget to focus on the things that were bringing me joy as well.
I think, often, happy songs can be seen as surface-level or dull and I just want to be able to remind myself and my audience that it’s okay to hold space for emotions on every end of the spectrum. They hold equal value. My old teacher used to always say that all emotions are just energy and that “if you numb the bad, you will also numb the good.” I want my music to encapsulate everything that goes on in my mind without valuing one thought over the other.
What was the most challenging aspect of recording your latest album?
I had just gone through what was probably the worst two years of my entire life. When we went to write all my songs, I was completely shut down. One of my coping mechanisms is to disassociate and essentially numb everything I experience.
I co-wrote these songs with 4 others and I remember on the first day, one of the co-writers (Victoria Skie) asked me to list off ten things I loved, ten things I hated, and ten things that evoked emotion out of me. I couldn’t even get more than five things for each list and even with my answers, I wasn’t connecting to them.
I used to be so sure of who I was, so seeing this happen right in front of my face made me realize how lost I was and how much self-awareness I had been sacrificing just to stay alive through the pain I was experiencing. It made me shut down even more for the rest of our writing sessions. I noticed myself feeling cold and unresponsive the first few days, which is entirely out of character for who I always felt I was as a person – only sending me deeper into an identity crisis mode.
I am so grateful that they didn’t give up on me, though. They continued to dig and push down the walls I had created. It wasn’t perfect, but I’m not sure anything ever is. I am still so happy with the outcome of this project and I am excited to grow from it and see what’s next.
What has been your favorite moment or experience as a musician so far?
Honestly, I don’t think anything will ever beat what I used to feel on stage when I was in a choir. Something about the collaboration of tens to hundreds of voices was always super impactful to me.
I hope that further down the line, I find the opportunity to do more collaborative efforts and find more people to sing with. No matter how deep I get into modern music, the choir nerd will never leave me. It has established such a strong foundation of harmonies and melodies in me that has allowed me to be where I’m at today.
How do you balance your personal life with your music career?
I’m really bad at this, honestly. I have intrusive thoughts, which make me obsess over things and start to hype and fixate on them. It’s caused me to become super impulsive and emotionally attached to something, without weighing out the negative consequences.
When it comes to music, if I have an upcoming project, I spend every waking moment working on it – whether that’s creating it or promoting it. I lose sleep over it because I wake up in the middle of the night and my brain is immediately swarming with hundreds of thoughts reminding me of all the things I still need to do.
I am still learning how to find the balance between working hard and protecting my mental state, which has definitely improved over the years, but it’s a journey for sure.
How do you handle negative criticism or feedback on your music?
My response to criticism is all over the place, which I think can be said for a lot of people. Sometimes it doesn’t bother me; I can understand that music is subjective. But sometimes, there are just people that really know how to dig at you and find that sensitive spot.
I am a sensitive person overall, so it’s not very difficult to find that spot with me… But the most important thing that I do now allow myself to feel whatever I want to feel after receiving the criticism – then I let it go.
I experience whatever my body feels is necessary, I validate it, and then I let it pass. I try not to dwell on things because my teacher in college always ingrained into my mind: “The body never lies, but the mind always does.” So I let my body tell me what I’m feeling and I let any intrusive thoughts pass on by, or at least I try to.
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians trying to make it in the industry?
Don’t get lost in the excitement of creating to the point that you sacrifice what you want to be conveyed in your art. I did this a lot with my first project. I went to shoot a music video and was just so excited to be a part of it that I sacrificed a lot of what I wanted to be told in the story.
If this does happen as a newer artist, it’s also important to remember to be gracious with yourself – it’s common if you’re just starting out. With each project, you will learn so much about yourself and who you want to be as an artist, no need to rush the process.
Also, having a strong community behind me was something that was essential. I have been gaslighted in the music industry and belittled on multiple occasions by people I felt I could trust. It’s easy to fall into the ideas and thoughts coming from someone who thinks they hold more power than you, especially if you start to believe that they do.
Take a step back and breathe before making a decision or before you say something you might regret. Without having such a strong community around me to remind me that I was worthy, I probably would’ve sunk. Some people are great alone, just make sure you have the tools and resources to take care of yourself – whatever that may be for you.
Do you have any upcoming projects or releases that you’re excited about?
Yes! As I stated earlier, there are eight songs that were created along with this release. My next release will be in April and I have a music video as well. I am hoping to be releasing music every one to two months from then on out.
Do you have any plans to branch out into other genres or styles of music?
For sure. My other upcoming releases are all genre-bending in their own way. I have some synth-pop, and R&B feel songs, while some others are very mainstream pop. I am so new to releasing my own music, so I am still very much experimenting with my sound.
I already think I am leaning more towards the synth-pop, R&B vibes of music because I have found more room for my voice to sit and float somewhere comfortable. But who knows, my mind changes every day.