After appearing to sing in her Mother’s womb, Naia Lika sat down with us recently and we had a chat about her upcoming new release which drops on the 10th of February called Gas Station Bouquet. Eloquently inspiring and showing us what it takes to do what you love, we found out more about singing in the choir, self-awareness, and what it was like living all over the USA.
Hello there Naia Lika. We appreciate you having a chat with us. Where in the world do we find you and what do you usually have for breakfast?
Naia Lika: Hi! I am so excited to connect with you guys. I’m currently living in Los Angeles and I hate to disappoint, but I’m actually not a huge fan of breakfast food. It’s been a weird thing about me since I was a child. My parents would get so mad at me because all I ever wanted for breakfast was a sweet treat, like an ice cream sundae or brownie or something.
Do you feel like you were destined to be a musician after appearing to sing in your Mom’s womb?
Naia Lika: Growing up, music always felt right. My parents put me into dance, vocal lessons, singing groups, and theater – it was all I had ever known. In high school I spent most of my time in choir, musical theater, and doing classical singing competitions; I had always felt so confident and sure of myself and where I stood in my art. I ended up attending the Boston Conservatory at Berklee for musical theater and that was the first time in my life where I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place. I decided to drop out and I experienced this really confusing transitional period. At first, I was convinced I wanted nothing to do with music. I distanced myself as far as possible from it; I almost felt ashamed to even be associated with that part of my life. It wasn’t until the pandemic hit that the boredom made me pick up my guitar again. I was lacking a community during COVID and I started using songwriting as an outlet to explore my thoughts and emotions.
It took me about two years to find a sound that I really resonated with. I put thousands of dollars into an entire album that I have no plans of releasing. In the moment, I was so proud with the work, but after really taking a step back, I realized it didn’t feel true to me or the sound I wanted to create. I went on to do another project and that’s all the music that will be released this year.
Art is all I have ever known, whether that be through music, photography, movement, or any other creative endeavor I dip my toes in. I don’t know exactly what my ultimate destiny is because we can never know, but I do know it will for sure be something where I hold the power to create and express myself through art – I will make sure of that.
Please tell us all about your debut track Gas Station Bouquet which is due to drop on the 10th Feb.
Naia Lika: I’m so excited! The song derives from an eight-song project that was created in August of 2022. I worked with a team of two producers and two co-writers which definitely helped speed up the process. We were completing songs in about 1-2 days each. This song was the second one we wrote and it’s become one of the most special to me. This was the first one that I felt we had actually been able to crack the surface and discover a hint of my sound. The longer we started working on it, the more I felt I could truly resonate with it.
I had spent most of my time during the pandemic writing about traumatizing, heavy topics because I was convinced that music had to be like that. But “Gas Station Bouquet” acted as a catalyst that allowed me to see happy moments with just as much value as “sad” moments. This really built momentum in my daily life; I started to become more present in mundane activities and I learned to appreciate them.
How much of an influence have your parents had in your music career?
Naia Lika: I definitely wouldn’t be sitting here today if it weren’t for them. From the day I could speak, they threw me into a world of music. It became natural for me and I never even questioned a life outside of it for the majority of my upbringing. They had always expected it from me, which I blindly followed.
It wasn’t until I hit college where I started to gain self-awareness. I learned to question myself and challenge my beliefs. Doing so gave me the space to realize that I wasn’t in the right place. When I dropped out of college, they were so upset with me. My dad could barely speak to me because we all assumed I would never touch music again. Like I said earlier, though, the pandemic forced me to pick up my guitar again and I haven’t stepped away from music since. For the first time in my life, I actively made the decision to engage in my art without any external factors telling me to do so.
My dad actually ended up convincing me to do my first artist project after hours of arguing. I wanted to make that decision for myself without being pushed to pursue it, since songwriting had become something that was mine and only mine. I gave it a lot of thought and went through with it and fell in love with the entire process. This is a side of the entertainment industry I had never gotten to experience before because I had been immersed in theater and the classical side of things my entire life. I’m so grateful I took the leap. This space feels right for me.
“Creating the song was an impactful moment for me. I had just experienced one of the toughest years of my life and it was such a valuable opportunity to actually sit down and write about something positive in my life amidst all the negativity swarming my mind. I don’t think I take enough time to appreciate what I have in my life.” ~ we love how inspiring this quote is. Have you found that by making music, your mind had calmed down from your tough experiences?
Honestly, at this point in my life, I think it’s made me more anxious. I used to be really good at avoiding the spiraling thoughts that constantly swarmed my mind, but songwriting doesn’t let me do that. Creating art forces you to face everything going on inside, which can definitely be overwhelming at times. I’ve really been digging deep and culminating in a force of self-awareness for over three years now, but it’s not a linear process. I sometimes have the tools I need to calm my mind as I write, but at other times, it feels like I have lost all my tools and allow my songwriting to exacerbate the chaotic thoughts until they become too much to deal with. I think it’s a learning process. Taking a step back to write about your life and experiences can be extremely eye-opening and I think it’s important to have the resources to take care of yourself when something challenging may come up.
You’ve lived in Las Vegas, Michigan, Boston, Hawaii, Vegas again, and Los Angeles. Do you feel like these experiences have broadened your mind?
Naia Lika: For sure. I grew up in a decently conservative area in Michigan where my beliefs did not align with the majority of people I was surrounded by. I felt so isolated and alone here; people were so shallow and surface level that any ounce of emotion I showed was considered “sensitive” and “crazy”. Boston was a complete 180. There, I was able to discover my bisexuality and flourish in an environment that let me be unapologetically myself. I moved to Hawaii, where I had to come to terms with my mistakes. Hawaii is an overly colonized kingdom where native people are fighting for their land every day as they get pushed to the streets. Los Angeles is now where I call home. It’s a place that has re-opened my eyes to a world of motivation and drive, something I was lacking in Las Vegas. The environment here is constantly pushing forward and I honestly love it so much.
Last, what do you hope for humanity to learn after all that has happened recently?
Naia Lika: That’s such a big question and it’s so difficult to pinpoint one thing. I don’t like to sit around and wish for things to be different because I was taught that wanting something to be other than “what is” will only bring you suffering. However, I am also a firm believer that we must stand up and speak out against the things that need change. I think mainly, I want humanity to learn to care for others: other people, other animals, other environments, and the earth they walk on. The issue here is people that who didn’t grow up with love and care often can’t emulate it because they didn’t have the opportunity to receive it. I wish I could make everyone children again and teach them that the world is a safe and good place, but you can’t change people’s past. And unfortunately, sometimes people’s past affects everyone’s future.
Interview by Llewelyn Screen