Ny

A new year always brings with a slew of carefully crafted chart contenders. But anyone who has heard Ny’s music will know she’s the real deal. With no svengali manager, label giant or spin doctor PR telling her how to be, she’s carved out her own career. And her musical journey up until this point makes for impressive reading.

She was introduced to music from young age, and it was a certain diva who alerted her to the fact that she wanted to sing. “My parents are huge vinyl lovers so we always had a lot of music in our house – old soul and reggae. Everything from Simon and Garfunkel to Blondie were played, and we were always singing together as a family.”

All those early influences helped to shape her passion for sound, and she soon became proactive in getting involved her local music scene. She started entering talent shows in her native Kentish Town and was soon winning her fair share. “I was taught from home until I was 10 and my mum was very strict and didn’t let us watch TV, so I’d listen to music or write poetry instead. I started going to a play centre and there was a worker there called XL Bass, who was also a well-known underground DJ on a pirate radio station called Freak FM. He was always encouraging me to sing and he used to get me to record little jingles for his show. Even though I was so young he was a huge driving force for me in music. Tragically, he was later murdered, but I think of him all the time and all and I’ll never forget how he opened my eyes to music in a different way.”

She soon starting bunking off school and fibbed about her age to get herself onto performing arts workshops at The Roundhouse in Camden. Then aged about 15 she started working for an under 18s rave company called Bigger Fish, doing stage management. “They used to have events at The Forum in Kentish Town, and one time all the power went off, so I got up on the stage and did an acapella of a Mariah Carey song and I knew instantly it was for me. After that I made a point of performing at every single rave – whether it was an acapella or something I’d written.

I met Ms Dynamite at one of the raves and she invited me to go on tour with her. I didn’t perform but I watched everything that was going on, and it was there that I learnt what it really meant to be an artist in your own right.”

Come 2005, 17 year-old Ny left home to live with her boyfriend of the time, grime star Wiley (Wear My Rolex), and started recording tracks of her own.  “I loved old school garage and grime, but when I looked around all I could see were boys and MCs, no girls. I started working with Curtis Lynch (Alicia Keys, Jamie Foxx), who put me in the studio and we did some recording. I was so in love with how free and expressive grime was, so I decided to be the first girl to sing on grime. Rewind magazine called me ‘the new lady of RnG’ and things soon started to take off.

The next few months were spent cleaning houses and cars and walking dogs in a bid to make enough money to press up her debut CD – a mix tape called Split Endz Vol 1. “I recorded it at a college where my friend was an engineer in the studio. Whenever the cleaners came in after it shut we had two-hour windows to record. I’d already met a lot of people on the scene, so people like Plan B, Professor Green, JME, Ghetts, Talay Riley,  Pyrelli, Sweetie Irie  ,Jonny Rockstar all featured on it. “I was also working for The Jump Off, a hip-hop battling night, at the time. It’s where Professor Green first made his name, so that’s how I met him. Plan B and Professor Green have been amazing and supported me so much.”

Once the CD was pressed, Ny hung outside the likes of Kiss, Choice and 1Xtra, handing it out to the stations’ DJs. She also hit the streets of the West End and approached Soho record shops, selling the mix for a fiver a pop. “It sold a couple of thousand copies, which was huge for me at the time. I was still doing shows and building up a good fan base. I hooked up with a small label called True Tiger Recordings and we dropped a track called Fire, which we ended up putting out. We got crazy love for it, so I decided to do create Split Endz Vol 2. One of the tracks, Willow, got playlisted on 1Xtra and Kiss FM. Off the back of that I supported Ritchie Spice, Donnel Jones and sang backing vocals for Plan B on tour. I also did vocals on The Streets first album and I was featured on Sway, Tinchy Stryder and DJ Ironik’s first albums, and also on Ironik’s single Stay With Me, which made the top five.”

The next few years were all about shows and recording, then in 2008 Ny got asked to do a project with the British Council, representing UK music at The Roundhouse, alongside a wealth of well known African artists. “It was amazing because we got to go and perform in all of their countries, so we visited places like Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Cameroon and performed in front of the Queen at the Commonwealth Conference in Uganda. My dad has lived in Ethiopia for ten years, he works for Save The Children, so I go there ever year. While I was there I recorded a track called Pick Up The Phone with a guy called Johnny Ragga, one of Africa’s biggest artists, and it became massive over there. I did so many shows and even performed in Ethiopoa on New Year.

“My next project was a funky house track with Wookie called Falling Again, which blew up in the clubs. I was doing loads of mad shows up and down the country and things were constantly building.”

A tour with Herve and Sinden followed, alongside Mz Bratt. “We did all the crazy festivals in Europe. We opened up for Fatboy Slim at Glastonbury, and we did Roskilde, Pukklepop, Rockness and Gatecrasher. We also ended up doing an eight-day tour of America which ended in Canada.”

In 2010 Ny released a track called Sea Sick, which featured a remix by Griminal and DJ Ironik and attracted over 300,000 hits on YouTube. She was nominated for best Newcomer at the UMAs, and the music press continued to sing her praises.

With such a wealth of experience behind her, she knew it was time to start work on her debut album. “I knew I had to buckle down and actually write an album. Everyone was asking what was coming next after my mix tapes, so I’ve been locked in the studio working with producers like Davinche, Fraiser T Smith, 3 Mindz, Confectionary and The Jester. My music has evolved a lot. It’s still got an urban edge to it but it’s also very soulful now. Some of the tracks have got a hard edge, but they’re got soft vocals too, which shows my diversity as an artist.

With her album ready to drop having created a sound that is as much Rihanna as it is Alicia Keys, Ny is soon to hit the road with N ‘Dubz on their nationwide tour. She’s close to the band and features on a track, Love Sick, on their new platinum selling album, LoveLiveLife. “Tulisa and I grew up near each other and we’ve been friends for years. I sang with the band in the Radio 1 Live Lounge when she was ill. The tour is going to be amazing and it will be a chance to get my new material out there.

“I’ve always done everything independently and financed it myself. I’m a workaholic and I still want to do things on my terms, but I’m hoping to get some label support this year because I’m ready to take things to the next level. . Up until now my music has been growing and finding out what I do and don’t want to do. Now my album is me. It’s my sound. It’s Ny.”