Friday, April 15, 2016

Niki Colet Captures a Feeling

5:25 AM

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Singer-songwriter (and The Thing's former style consultant!) Niki Colet is constantly working to make good music. 

 “I knew a girl who lived in a fairytale world…”

NIKI Colet sings this line in a rushed kind of way, but with low effort and an air of elegance. Her voice is soft, softer than it is when she speaks, but it lilts with the cadence of years of practice. It’s a beautiful sound, making it hard to believe that this is her example of one of her “horrible” first songs—a Vanessa Carlton-inspired ballad she wrote at just 10 years old.

The student musician’s interest in songwriting came about from her love for music. “I think it wasn’t as much about singing as it was songwriting in the beginning,” she says.

Though she’s always loved singing, the 21-year-old is direct when she says that she didn’t used to be very good at it. “I’m actually not a naturally gifted singer,” she admits, recalling a childhood experience where she so badly wanted to sing at a party hosted by her parents, but wasn’t allowed to until the very end when most of the guests had left already.

“I remember wanting to sing for my parents’ Christmas party, and they were just like, ‘Umm, maybe at the very end.’ And then I remember they let my cousin sing [first], because I remember my cousin always had a beautiful voice,” Niki recounts.

She’s come a long way since then, if the comments and plays on her SoundCloud account are anything to go by. In the past, family members would tease her about how she sounded bad. Now, dozens of people leave comments on Niki’s SoundCloud, praising her “beautiful” and “raw” voice.

College crush: Niki released her first EP when she was a university freshman.

Ever since releasing her self-titled EP two years ago during her freshman year at university, she’s been busy performing at organization events and popular independent gig venues like Route 196 and saGuijo.

Balancing school work with gigs isn’t easy for Niki, who is currently in her third year as a Creative Writing major. “There have been times that I’ve just gone to gigs with zero practice, just bombed it completely, gone home, realized I have a long test the next day, and just cry,” she says.
Despite the difficulties, she has aimed to become more disciplined, setting a time to do music, and a time to do school work.

“I think with anything creative really, or anything artistic, it’s very much based on feeling. But discipline is also important. It’s a crucial thing when it comes to doing this, or doing many things at once,” she advises.

Niki explains how it took years of practice to get to develop her current sound, which she is still struggling to describe up to now.

The one thing that she’s certain of, however, is that her music style is slowly changing. “So I don’t think that I’ll ever get to a concrete sound that’s going to be never changing, because I’ll always be working towards something new,” she says.

"It's not so much the sound itself, but the effect that it has on you, and how it changes your inner life." 

The dream-like melodies that accompany her haunting lyrics are usually products of her many influences. Niki likes to go back to what one of her mentors from the Ateneo Musician’s Pool ((aMp)), Miles Malferrari (who is also the guitarist of the band Dearest,) told her: “The first rule in music is to listen.”

“Because you learn from [your influences]. You listen to them. You develop your own way of interpreting that feeling that you get,” she remarks. “It’s not so much the sound itself, but the effect that it has on you, and how it changes your inner life.”

She cites singers Florence Welch (of the band Florence and the Machine) and Lana del Rey as two big influences, not only of her sound, but of her objectives in making and writing music.

“All of these artists capture a feeling that they incite within you. And you sort of yearn to do the same with others and even to yourself, with the things that you create yourself,” she shares.

This rings true in other fields as well, as she counts reading, watching movies, and researching on different eras in fashion as some of her other hobbies.

“I love fashion, I love style,” she gushes. “I think if I were to get into a field that wasn’t music or writing, it would probably be fashion.” Her current favourite fashion era is the 1960’s, and it comes out in the way she’s dressed for the interview: clad in a black ribbed sweater and high-waisted shorts, she wouldn’t look out of place in an old Americana photograph.

Pretty woman: Niki draws plenty of inspiration from period fashion and old films.  

Influences from her favorite movies and television shows find their way into the narratives of her music. In “High School Crush,” she sings about wanting to be the Angela Chase to her crush’s Jordan Catalano, and in “Swoon,” she waxes poetic about being the Doris Day to his James Dean. In fact, the cover photos of her tracks on SoundCloud are stills from movies like The Virgin Suicides, Clueless, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Niki’s main influences have mostly been foreign or international acts, which she attributes to her negative early experiences with local artista music.

Mainstream Filipino music, she says, is “usually done by artistas and not real musicians.” As a child, she was frustrated by the fact that the local music she was hearing didn’t move as much as entertain.

She laments at the bad reputation local music has gotten, quick to point out that her own experience stemmed from ignorance, since she only ever heard local music on the radio.

“Of course, as I’ve grown older and I’ve become more exposed to the local music industry, I’ve found so many artists who come from the Philippines who really inspire me,” she says, sharing her wish that more opportunities would be given to deserving artists in the country.

Niki refrains from referring to her music as OPM, saying that OPM as a genre takes away from a musician’s personal craft. “I feel like you should give the artists respect,” she says before expounding, “and not classify their music based on the country they come from. Base it on the artistry [of their music].”

All of that aside, Niki has only one attitude when it comes to developing her craft as a Filipino singer-songwriter: “I’ve always been working towards just good music—just making really good music.”


Editor's Note: Niki also served as a regular contributor and style consultant of The Thing.

Article by Chynna and Gaby
Rooftop photos by Adela 
Final photo by Chynna
Chynna Santos is an aspiring travel writer/news journalist with an insatiable love for chocolate, pretty things, Johnny Depp, and almond-scented shampoo. Her life goal is to be elsewhere, always. You can find her online as @chynnese on Twitter and Instagram.
Gaby is still trying to figure things out. On most days, you’ll find her at her computer, excessively bookmarking links to DIY projects and articles about teenage wunderkind. You can find her writing on this 'ere thing, as well as on Twitter, Young Star, and Rookie.
Adela was born and raised in the Philippines, but left home at 15 to study at a boarding school. She is mostly based out of Boston, where she is currently majoring in Architecture Studies. She loves the Boston Red Sox, anything design-related, and she believes a font choice can tell a lot about a person (looking at you, Comic Sans MS user). You can check out her photography here or follow her on twitter or instagram at @adelerz.


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