Nilo Blues’s self-titled album thematically encompasses an array of tracks that rejects racial prejudice. The artist had been producing music for three years, but only started working in the music industry in 2019.
“Hearing great new, music makes me feel alive. I don’t like when people hold art to a ‘quantity over quality’ standard. I don’t care if your friend in LA can make 30 songs in a day. I believe in manifestation,” Blues said.
He continued, “I try to practice transcendental meditation when I’m not stuck in a nicotine-fueled, cloudy state of mind. I believe everything in this world is subjective. I want to find enlightenment while building my music in a world that seems to be full of looming negative energy.”
The artist found his passion for music at a young age. His mom would play classical music to her belly before Blues was born. At three years old, the musician could name songs and artists on the radio from the first few seconds of the song.
“That love solidified when I started dancing at six. Ever since then, I’ve always been constantly surrounded by music, so transitioning into making my own felt so organic,” he noted.
In the shower, Blues sings many Hall and Oates’ songs, not because of (500) Days of Summer but because they are “geniuses.”
“I just love listening to 80s pop in the shower because it makes me feel as if I’m in a montage. Do I sing those songs well? Absolutely not, but I do put my heart into every song,” he said.
In Blues’s songwriting process, he prefers to let the production take rein. He tends to follow his natural instinct and let the melodies come to him.
“The minute I try to force it is when I start overthinking and overcomplicating things. Every session feels different, and so I try to capture the moment and the feeling of the room at that time,” Blues mentioned.
The idea of his track “Nicotiana” emerged when he had a desire to create a song that felt lovely and lighthearted on the surface, but also held a darker concept nonetheless.
“Nicotine addiction has been a huge hurdle for me for a few years, and writing this song was definitely a release of that energy. Now that it’s out, it feels as if I’ve exhaled the whole idea of this attachment, and I feel ready to quit more than ever,” he confessed.
Music has always played landmark roles in Blues’s journey, and he can connect a time and place to all of his favorite songs. He said that he wants to create moments for people, and that the emotion we interpret in the music is key.
“I like leaving my music open to interpretation so listeners can feel exactly what they need to feel in order to heal or grow,” he said.
Blues was on a long drive headed to his friends’ cottage when he remembered bawling his eyes out listening to the final version of his EP. He said that they were definitely tears of joy, and at that moment, he felt only gratitude and pure joy.
“As an artist, we tend to have huge waves of overconfidence, but also extreme lows of self-doubt. Moments like these are always great reminders of how hard you’ve worked. In a sense, it reignites the fire in your heart,” he said.
The most important words in “Nicotiana,” to him, are, “It’s never too late for a smoke break.” The line always hit home for Blues because he feels as if it paints the picture of his constant need to step out for a smoke.
“It embodies the excuses I make in order to justify why I smoke and why I hold the addiction so close to my ego,” he said. “It’s crazy because a few days before the release of my EP, I bought a pack, and on the little paper slip inside the pack, it read, ‘It’s Never Too Late’ … I’ve never seen that specific text before, and in that moment it hit me so hard. I took it as a sign from the universe to finally quit.”
The music perfectly fits the lyrics of the song as the detuned guitar, the reverse snares in the drum progression and the spacey synth leads evoke the feeling of a nicotine hit — short, sweet and in the pocket.
Blues said that the key, inventive idea in his masterpiece was the process of painting the picture of the environment. He thinks ideas and images come together more organically than one would think.
“The world is already there so the focus is on emphasizing the details. No idea plays a bigger part than the other. The whole song is the image. Every word has been said, and every note has been played. The uniqueness shines through how you tell the story cohesively,” he said.
Blues encouraged his fans to not be afraid of letting go, but to feel the beauty to understand the darkness. He reminisced about his most unforgettable gig at Budweiser Stage during high school and remembered visualizing the crowd hearing his music.
“I made sure I was present in that entire moment, and I used those memories and images to fuel my manifestations. I felt in my element that entire time, and it was a big eureka moment in solidifying my commitment to making music,” Blues said.
After that show, the artist started making music on overdrive. It was a catalyst in starting his journey through music. Blues said that whatever you do in life, always do it with your full heart.
He concluded, “Commit to your actions, but not your ideas. Allow yourself to break the rules. Don’t judge yourself for going against the grain or doing something out of your comfort zone.”
Contact Ron Rocky Coloma at rcoloma ‘at’ stanford.edu.