enjoys a freedom rarely afforded to young artists in the beginning of
their careers. Before she embarked on years of relentless touring, the
North Carolina-bred rockabilly singer and her husband, co-songwriter/guitarist Matt Hill, decided to take autonomy in their
music by running their own label, Deep Fryed Records. Now the pair are
touring the world behind Nikki’s fiery brand of DIY roots rock revival.
Like many Southern musicians, Nikki’s introduction to music started
in the pews. As a child, she discovered the power of performance through
gospel music and the unity it inspired in the congregation.
really confused as far as the religious side of church, but seeing the
effect the music, the words, and the beat had on people was something
that sticks with me now,” Nikki says. “As you get into music, you start
to notice the influence gospel has had on all American roots music.”
Her personal translation of soul-tinged rock ‘n’ roll reaches deeper than a neat imitation of Etta James. On Heavy Hearts, Hard Fists,
her recently released sophomore record, Nikki’s raw bellows and biting
lyricism evoke the unbridled honesty that made soul legends so
Before she combed through the Stax Records catalog for
inspiration, punk rock informed her style. “As a teenager I really loved punk because of its energy, the
rebellious side of it, and I loved the camaraderie of going to shows
with your friends,” she says.
Shifting her tastes from the hardcore of Agnostic Front to Little
Richard’s high-energy rhythm and blues was less a transition for Nikki
than a natural extension of her aesthetic. The allure of golden-era rock
‘n’ roll in her adult life intersected with the appeal of punk in her
teenage years. Both genres construct their image from a place of
fearlessness and revolution.
“Little Richard was more punk rock than any of us could ever fucking
imagine,” she says. “It takes a lot of confidence in yourself and a lot
of insanity to do what he did in the time he was doing it.” [Read More]