NSTASIA grew up with a musical background as her father was a live musician who worked with artists like Eugene Wilde and Betty Wright. After a bidding war between Warner Music and Rodney Jerkins, the singer dropped out of college to create music full-time. Having already written for the likes of LL Cool J, Jermaine Dupri, Usher, and Beyoncé, the first generation Haitian-American singer is gearing up to step into the spotlight with the release of her debut project New Religion.
Billboard hopped on the phone to discuss with the independent budding star more about her beginnings in music, the inspiration for her debut project, and what will be her "mama I made it" moment
How did what you imagined yourself as a kid match up to your life now?
Well, you know what's so funny is I've never imagined myself doing anything else. I've wanted to be a teacher or a lawyer casually, but in my mind, I always knew I would be a singer. I was going to be Diana Ross (Laughs). But when I'm done with a concert that has a ton of seats, I might have a court case in the morning. I always knew singing was going to be apart of whatever I did. Every year since I was little, that hunger continued.
You went to college in Atlanta. How did that influence your sound?
I spent a lot of my adult years in Atlanta. When it comes to my sound and the topics I talk about, I'm already a lover. But my songs come from a real place. It comes from my actual experiences. I freestyle a lot of the songs you hear, almost every one. My past experiences of love and relationships in Atlanta have been with guys that have been in that hood lifestyle. My whole EP is what I would like to call a "Hood Romance." So Atlanta really set me up for my relationships experiences. Not that I grew up in the hood, but I know men who are about that. My whole EP derived from my personal experiences of love.
You signed as a songwriter in college and are presently signed to Sony/ATV. How did your ability to write music shape your identity as an artist?
Spending so much time in the studio writing for other people trying to get that placement, doing song after song, inevitably I became better and more confident. All along I'm only doing this because I want to be an artist. I was told, "In order to be an artist, you have to hit a big song. That's the best way to become an artist." Once I write a big hit, then I can do it on my own. So years and years of being in the studio all day everyday writing for other people, just happened to be prepping me to learn my own style.
I demoed my own music [and] I wrote for other people, too. So it's also me practicing singing in the studio. I learned different ways to write a hook, how to get a hook that people liked because I was trying to sell a song. Now that's why I'm able to go in and freestyle and do what is just from the heart, and people happen to dig it. It happens to be catchy.
Through writing, you have a chance to collaborate with other people. Recently, you came out with a record with Skrillex. How did that come about?
Me and a producer friend Alex. He had this kiddy type of loop that was so dope. I was on my phone while it was playing -- no other instruments because I like to go in the studio and work from scratch -- and I saw the word "Parachute". I thought, "Oh, that's a good title." I came up with this concept of being so high, you're having fun being there, but when you come down, you want it to be a safe landing.
Regardless, if you smoke or if you're high on life, that's why I wrote that concept. Either way, I met Skrillex because I did the song "Favor" (with Vindata) so from then he and I were really vibing with each other. He wanted to hear my EP and what I was working on. We fell in love with each other musically. He took me to my first major concert in LA so we really become cool. He heard "Parachute" and said 'this is hot. I want to be apart of your EP. I know you're almost done. Let me be apart of this production wise.' It was almost finished, so he helped finish it.
What will listeners learn about you from your EP, New Religion?
I think what they'll learn is that I'm all about feelings and emotions, energy. I think from my records you can hear my vibe, you know that it comes from a real place. I'm talking about actual experiences and I think the details and the storytelling I do in my song which is inspired by country songs, you hear that these are things I actually know about. You will be able to feel that I'm talking about real stuff. I'm all for energy and a vibe, so through my EP you will definitely hear a vibe. I think listeners will fall in love with the realness of it.
What will be your "Mama I made it," if you haven't had one already?
That moment will be when I'm able to hand my grandmother and my father at least a $100,000 check (Laughs). Not that I'll stop working after that, but that's when I'm going to feel like all my hard work is paying off. Granted, I'm grateful for everything I have now. But that's going to be the moment I say, "Look you can see I've made it because I can pay your bills."
Looking to 2018, you have any New Year's resolutions?
My New Year's resolution is to stay grateful. I'm big on making sure I continue to be thankful for every minute and be myself. I'm currently like that and want to continue that. I want to have positive energy and being thankful. I just want to enjoy every moment.