Interview: Nina Sky
The dynamic duo of Nicole and Natalie Albino wrote their first song “Sisters” at the young age of seven. By the time they were in their teens, the two were DJing spots all around New York City and in 2004 they had their first radio hit “Move Ya Body.” Since then, they’ve collaborated with everyone from Major Lazer to Rick Ross to Brenmar. The word “unstoppable” comes to mind as the twins known as Nina Sky continue to push musical boundaries and defy stereotypes and genres. Their second studio album Nicole & Natalie is set to drop later this year and today the video for the single “Heartbeat” is out. I had the chance to talk to Nina Sky about their new album, sexuality and the music industry, and their creative process.
Nancy Lu: To me there’s sort of this abyss between the mainstream and indie in the sense that when an artist tries to crossover they inevitably fall into this black hole. But you’ve collaborated with artists in both spheres like Sean Paul and Rick Ross to indie artists like Major Lazer, Brenmar, and CREEP. What have you done specifically to maintain relevance in both camps without losing the respect of either?
Natalie: To us, its all about making music that we love and working with artists that inspire us, not about gaining the respect of any specific genre, maintaining relevance in either camp, or trying to cross over. We just want to make music! I think because we genuinely embrace of genres, when we collaborate with artists like Major Lazer, Creep or Sean Paul it doesn’t come across as contrived… Its simply just us being Nicole and Natalie.
Nancy: Who else would you like to collaborate with?
Natalie: Definitely Outkast. They are our favorite duo.
Nancy: In 2010 you openly came out about your sexuality and today we see more artists coming out to the public, the most recent being Frank Ocean. When before artists might have been afraid to reveal this kind of personal information for fear of being outcasted, they’re now cautiously but openly doing so. How/why/when do you think this shift occurred and where does sexuality fit into making music and being an artist?
Nicole: I don’t know why anyone would be “turned off” by someone’s coming out. Embracing who you are is important on all levels. It goes beyond sexuality. I also don’t think that it’s an artists responsibility to announce their sexuality to fans, although I do support all that have. Music is always relatable, whether written about he or she, we all share the same feelings. I’ve sung many songs and heard many songs about love between a woman and man that I can totally relate to! They’re just nouns and pro nouns.
Nancy: The music industry is somewhat of a boys club but you two started DJing New York clubs at 15. What would you say helped you break into the scene?
Nicole: I started DJing when I was 13 years old. When I was 15 and in high school, I did the “mobile dj” gig. I would haul my turntables, mixer, speakers, party lights, and record crates to school parties, sweet 16’s, family parties and any other party I managed to book. At the time, my brother was also djing at a lot of spots in NYC. He would allow me to play sets with him, even when I was too young to get in. That was when I got my first real shot at DJing in a club. Haven’t stopped since!
Nancy: Does being twins help or influence your creative process in any way?
Natalie: Well, since there’s two of us we always have someone else around to bounce ideas off of, which is awesome. Also, it’s cool because Nicole isn’t afraid to tell me if an idea I think is amazing, sucks. The same thing goes theo ther way around. We have a totally honest relationship creatively and that makes for a great one.
Nancy: Can you tell me about your upcoming second studio album, Nicole & Natalie? Inspiration, favorite track, etc?
Nicole: I would describe “Nicole & Natalie” as an R &B/ Pop album with elements from all the other genres of music we love. Some of the songs are dance influenced, if listen to “Never Kissed You, ” that’s a trippy jam, and then there are your typical POP songs. It really is a good balance of both of us, musically.Our favorite tracks change daily, but at this moment, “Comatose” is on top for me.