Score Indie Quickie: Nikitaa – Score Short Reads
Tell us about your album High Priestess
High Priestess almost feels like a coming of age for me. It’s my debut album and is a collection of what I know to be my most authentic work as an artist and producer to date. Part of it is lived experience, part of it is the exploration or/and embodiment of different archetypes (Goddess, Empress, Queen of Coins) but all of it is my truest heart! I wrote, produced and recorded a lot of this album on my own during the course of the pandemic. This is also the first time I focused fully and properly on authenticity over sheer perfection… which is where I think the magic will always lie!
Take us through each of the songs and the story behind them
Well, the album opens with Clutch – a sensual and cheeky reclamation of my sensuality and sexuality. At the time that I wrote Clutch I was surrounded by men that consistently fetishised and objectified me. Clutch was a response to all of that – a clear statement: my body and my pleasure belong only to me.
We then come to Boomerang – a bridge-burning song. I wrote this about an ex-partner who took me for a ride during and after our relationship. I wrote this during the pandemic as a way to release the anger and frustration I felt when I drew boundaries with this person and was met with disrespect. It’s a reminder that your actions speak louder than words, and that no one is ever truly irreplaceable. It was my way of solidifying the ties I was cutting with this person.
We come now to Farewell – which feels like the other side of the same coin as Boomerang, although I wrote Farewell several years before writing Boomerang and they sound nothing alike. Farewell is the emotional turmoil that I faced in knowing that I had to let go because I deserve so much more and better, while still loving deeply.
DITK – Dancing In The Kitchen – is a song I wrote while deep in the angst and commotion it portrays sonically. I was finally free of the story of my abuse from when I was only a child, but I was still rediscovering what safety in my body and in my home meant to me. I wrote DITK from this space of questing and anguish.
Queen Of Coins is the first of the many archetypes I bring forth on this album, and it is inspired by the tarot card of the same name. The Queen of Coins is often considered the Queen of monetary and material abundance. There is nothing that stands in the way of this figure and their success. I wanted to embody and manifest that, and so I wrote Queen of Coins from this space. It is a commanding and yet sensual space and song!
Goddess is the very first time I explored archetypal energy in my songwriting – way back in 2017, which is when I wrote it! I wrote Goddess to redefine this term, which has so often been overused and been made to represent a very binary image of either kind or harsh, benevolent or disciplinary… When really a Goddess is all of those things and more – an ever expansive being that requires your full focus and effort! I also wanted non-men to experience a sense of empowerment in listening to the song. The Goddess is an archetype that lives within all of us. Here is a song that helps you channel that!
Empress is another archetype, also drawn from the realm of tarot. If the Queen of Coins represents abundance of the material variety, the Empress represents that very same abundance across every plane imaginable. The Empress is a sensual being capable of creating, experiencing and celebrating joy and pleasure in every sphere of life.
When I was creating Empress, I really wanted to concentrate on that. The opening melody and lyrics just came to me one day, and I immediately began by sampling my own voice and built the entire track around that.
City of Angels is dedicated to the city that I first felt fully at home in, that I began my career in, fell in love and had my heart broken in… A city that still has my heart and I deeply miss and desire to return to – Los Angeles. It was also a bit of a manifestation ritual – the second half of the song I imagine the feeling of being back there again, and as the song closes there remains the promise that I will return.
It was one of those songs that simply flows out of you, written all in one go on a whim one of the many days through the pandemic that I missed the people and places that still feel like home to me.
Wolf is more of that archetypal exploration. Produced by Mukund, I started writing Wolf after he began crafting the beat. Between the flute and the drums, I couldn’t help but picture a fierce and deadly Wolf running through the forest. Wolf was a reimagining of the Big Bad Wolf image that we’ve all been fed. I wanted to dismantle that and bring back the Wolf of old – a symbol of protection, guidance, wisdom, loyalty and intuition. Wolf as a song is a fierce ally against the fears we all battle within ourselves
Voodoo Man – like Farewell, Goddess and Clutch was written quite a while ago! I had the idea of writing a song about a man who ensnares his potential partner (in a good way), almost as if by magic… But I recently went in and reproduced it completely, as well as re-wrote some sections. I wanted Voodoo Man to call in a partner that is embodied, empowered and grounded in himself, and so fully capable of celebrating me as well being open and vulnerable. This Goddess isn’t settling for anything less!
BlueBeard is a song that pretty much came to me one rainy afternoon as I sat in front of my setup. It’s heavily inspired by the story of Blue Beard, yes, but even more so by the breakdown of the archetype of Blue Beard and the lessons he brings as provided by Clarissa Pinkola Estes in her book “Running With The Wolves”.
BlueBeard is a song about the fact that sometimes the only way the feminine intuition within us can be re-awakened and empowered is by dealing with someone (whether in our lives, or in our minds) as dangerous as Blue Beard… and recognizing that the natural curiosity (or wolfishness, as Clarissa puts it) that lives within all of us, is a saving grace that might protect us from the worst and help us survive and thrive.
I wrote it in a near meditative state, and so of course the song reflects that quality. I added actually foley sounds of koyals that I had recorded from around my neighborhood and other birds & rain as well!
Last but certainly not least we have High Priestess. I didn’t know I was writing High Priestess until the very words came out of my mouth. I started with the bass line, and wanted to produce a track that just felt good down to my very bones; I wanted it to feel like a celebration, something I could dance and groove to.
When I began adding lyrics, I recognized I was writing about the archetype and role that has followed me and been mine my whole life – The High Priestess. The High Priestess is a role given to temple specific priestesses since time immemorial as they serve and help others serve the Goddess and actualize the divinity and true potential that exists within all of us. Long since misunderstood (as has been the Goddess), the High Priestess is often portrayed in modern occult as a brooding and lonely figure, or an overly sexualized one.
Really, the High Priestess is devoted the mysteries of the Goddess, yes, but above all the High Priestess is devoted to love, forgiveness, and acceptance of wholeness – just as the Goddess! And so to embody or to work with the High Priestess is to come to that energy with open arms, an open heart, a celebration of self and of authenticity, or not at all! As the song says – “Put your soul into it, when you’re dealing with the High Priestess”.
What’s your songwriting process like?
I have a few guidelines that I work with:
Never show up with an agenda when writing something brand new
Be vulnerable and honest, even if it seems petty, weird or crazy!
Always voice note any melodic ideas while they’re fresh
Solidify your bass line first and foremost
Don’t overlay drums unless you’re happy with the melodies!
Write from the heart
Don’t worry about the “hit single”
Of course these are just guidelines, not solid rules. But They work very well for me. I let the rest of my process vary from song to song, mood to mood. I also never force a song if I find I’m not in a space to write or produce, it just ends in major frustration.
Talk to us about the gear you used to produce this album?
First off, I am lucky, privileged and blessed enough to have created this entire project in my home studio here in Mumbai.
The whole album was produced in Logic Pro X, and supplemented by the use of the amazing Komplete Kontrol S49 by Native Instruments! I also used a few samples from Splice, which really is very versatile and useful for production. I recorded all my vocals in ProTools using an SM7B (Shure) and of course my Apollo Twin X was on board throughout the entire process. I used a lot of Waves plugins too, they’re my go-to for several things. I used my Audio-Technica ATH-M50x a lot, as well KRK Rokit 5’s.
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