I had the good pleasure of meeting Naïmah at a local coffeehouse in Greenpoint, Brooklyn a couple weeks ago. A Washington D.C.-based singer-songwriter, Naïmah is currently working on her own EP, writing songs for a handful of other artists, and playing shows in the DC and New York areas. We’re happy to welcome her to the Collective as she discusses her understanding and application of Reflection and Response, the creative process behind her song Wolf and I, and various other topics. We’re looking forward to a lot more dope work from Naïmah in the months and years ahead! Check out the dialogue below.
Support each other. I’ve witnessed too much animosity in the art world, especially jealousy-driven. Everyone has their own gift, their own individual way of looking at something, and at the end of the day, no one can replicate that.
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?
N: I’m from Washington, D.C., and after going to boarding school in Boston, and college at USC in Los Angeles, I’ve made my way back to the District. A bit surprising to some, as I’m emanating those California vibes “for sure”, but it’s nice to be home and planting my roots and growing where I first got started.
What does Reflection and Response mean to you?
N: Within the harmony of those two actions I find the creative process at its best. The thing about art as I see it, or at least how I approach my music, is that it is always a response to a reflection on a moment, a person, a feeling, and so on.
Whether I realize something is on my mind or not, songwriting helps me navigate through that process of reflection, and to figure out just how much that subject meant—or means—to me. Each song is me saying, “This is my response about X. This is how I feel.”
And the incredible part is when that individual reflection and response, my response, captures the way someone else might also feel in their own reflection, or to allow them to see their feelings in a new light.
It’s hard to make this intangible transaction into a tangible explanation, but I hope that all makes sense.
How does ‘Wolf and I’ fit in with that definition?
N: It doesn’t get more “reflection and response” than in Wolf and I. Well, it does, but prior to writing the song I’d been in a phase of day-dreaming and imagining and writing songs based on these scenes I made up when, after a trip to New York, I was headed back home on the bus, feverishly free-writing in my notes on my iPhone (let me say how restrictive auto-correct and that little screen is) as I attempted to capture how I felt about the events that had just occurred, and all the moments and experiences making up my relationship with this particular person and situation.
Wolf and I is a love song in its most basic interpretation, but I think the fact that it’s really so much more than that below the surface is why people have been able to connect with it. It’s about perception, the way you look at something, the good and the bad all at once.
Wolf is a simile I used to describe someone and something both close and distant, endearing, and in the process of change; and Wolf and I was my reflection, my attempt to articulate, all these thoughts in some kind of compact organization that I could store them in.
Since writing the song, I’ve opened back up to the realization of how important reflection and response is, and how my songs come to life when they are created in this frame of mind.
What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?
N: SO. MANY. SONGS! I’m so excited! I’ve been working on a series of songs, Wolf and I and Bittersweet Refrain being two of them, that make up a broader story. I’m a writer at my core, so it’s been really amazing to layout this whole concept and create the songs as chapters of the overall tale. I guess the project is one big reflection and response piece!
Beyond working on my EP, I’ve been writing songs for other artists (can’t tell you who, yet!), and also playing shows in the DC/NYC area.
I’m super, super, stoked on my most recent song, Alive… can’t wait to get into the studio to work on it.
Who or what inspires you?
N: This photo I took [see below]. It says to me, see the world in your own way, from your point of view; make something of it, and pass it on. There’s really beauty and meaning in everything, it’s just a matter of looking for it.
Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
N: Support each other. I’ve witnessed too much animosity in the art world, especially jealousy-driven. Everyone has their own gift, their own individual way of looking at something, and at the end of the day, no one can replicate that. So I think us artists should realize that, and spend the time discovering, developing, and strengthening our unique talents with the confidence and knowledge that there is room for us all.
And for those on the audience-side, more than ever it’s important to act upon your belief in someone’s art, and to show that support. Us independent artists need it!
Shout out to…?
N: My mom, hands down. She’s been by my side on this journey towards my career as a singer-songwriter since the day she bought me a guitar when I was 4. I could not ask for a better support system than her, love you, mom!
Check out more of Naimah’s music and info on her upcoming shows at the following links!