Niki Tyler is a rising star who has been canvassing her songs over a field of evergrowing fans. Having had the pleasure of reviewing her album it was lovely to catch up with her.
What do you think make ‘Niki Tyler’ songs appealing?
I’ll have to go with feedback that I’ve received and say the lyrics. The music is a carrier for the story the lyrics tell so the music’s important too, but listeners tell me that they can relate to the songs mostly because of the lyrics.
Is there anything you would do differently on the album now as opposed to ‘then’?
I don’t think I would change anything that I did with ‘All This Time’, but I do feel my music and indeed my vocals are growing and progressing and the next album will reflect that.
I read on your website that you can play a number of instruments. What’s your favourite? Why?
My primary instrument is the keyboard and I have a workstation which is awesome. I can spend a whole day on it and totally lose track of time! I guess my next favourite is the bass guitar and I share one with my wife Karen, which I play periodically. Adding the bass line is one of my favourite parts of the song writing process. It adds the heartbeat and brings it to life.
Well, pleasantries over I hope you enjoyed a brief insight into Niki’s world and that perhaps she has provided you with inspiration. Her determination and high spirits I’m sure you will agree will see her go the distance.
Each song from your album clearly is a personal thing and you’ve recently performed your album live so how does that make you feel when you perform live and sing?
Every song is like a chapter in a book of life. Sometimes it can be difficult to sing certain songs as they stir up painful memories. ‘Just Another Day’ is about the passing of my father and it took ages for me to able to sing that without cracking up. You have to strike a balance between putting in enough emotion and not losing control. I found that once I’d sung the song about 30 times I got used to hearing the words and it got much easier. I’m fine with that song now. Singing from experience can often be an emotional journey.
What would you say are you personal triumphs in life?
I think doing what I’m doing now musically is one of them because I’d given it all up and never dreamed I’d find my way back. Fate took a hand in that or I’d still be looking over my shoulder. ‘All This Time’ the song tells the story and was the first song I wrote after taking the leap back into music.
I’d also say that just totally being myself and living the life I want to live in every way. So many people don’t, so I consider myself blessed.
How old are you?
Haha that’s depends on the time of the month! I’m 46 going on 15 but sometimes I feel 96!
Do you think there are limitations with being a certain age and just starting out in a career?
Yes and no. It depends on your perspective.
Yes because the majority of new faces in the music industry tend to be in the 18-25 age group so I guess that’s the ‘norm’ and is to a point, expected. It should be about the talent and I’m not sure that’s always the case. But then I never was one to conform to the ‘norm’. That’s boring. I like to surprise!
And no, because age is after all just a number. How you think of yourself will define your boundaries and I think although being older might have been an issue once, that appears to be changing.
How do you think in this respect it’s different for men and women to follow their career passions later?
I’m not sure how to answer this as personal experience will come into play. I don’t know if it’s a gender issue or a personality issue. For me, trying to pursue music in my 20’s just didn’t work, because I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have the confidence. Now I do and I’m ready but that’s just me and I think being older has helped me on my way.
How old were you when you came out?
I was 33.
Did you have any real issues or suffer any discrimination because of your sexuality family, friends or work colleagues?
And what are your personal views on female artists who stay in the closet? Or pop their head out only to hide back in the safety zone so their market appeal isn’t deemed as less worthy?
When I finally sussed it out my first thought was that my sister Lu wouldn’t want to know me. I’m not really sure why. We are very close and I was concerned that might change. Nothing could have been further from the truth. It was a big relief and she helped me tell Mum and Dad. Mum at first went into ‘It’s my worst nightmare’ mode and Dad was concerned that I wouldn’t want to hug him anymore. Strange the ideas people have about what being gay really means. Mum came round very quickly after she told one of my brothers, who laughed hysterically then said simply… ‘A gay sister… cool!’ That was that. So no, I was very lucky. My family have always been very supportive no matter what I’ve wanted to do and coming out to them was no different. My friends were equally supportive and work was never really an issue mostly because I don’t go round with a label hanging from me and as a self employed Driving Instructor I worked mostly alone. If anyone ever sussed it out, they never said.
Hmmm… you really have a supportive family there.
I think everyone has their own reasons for how they handle that and it’s a personal choice. I wouldn’t criticise someone for keeping their private life private. I would however say that if you are in the public eye, you must expect people to dig around to find out about you. It goes with the territory. So if you don’t want that, choose another career.
What is your fan base? Is it very big?
My fan base is growing quite fast as far as I can gather. I’ve recently started working with a lovely lady called Sue who has taken on the roles of PA and Promotions Manager and she is doing a fantastic job. I wouldn’t know exact figures but I can tell you I’m selling lots more albums now and have approaching 30,000 worldwide hits on my online music videos, which is double what it was 3 months ago, so I think that shows an upward trend.
As for my fan base, it seems to span over both the straight and gay community and I’ve had many messages of support from all age groups and from all over the world, which is amazing! At the more local gigs, the following is growing and we are getting requests from fans both in the UK and abroad, for live shows in their areas. I hope we manage to throw the net much wider to reach these fans in the near future.
What is your target audience?
My target audience is people with ears. lol. But seriously, we have been targeting the gay community a bit more lately but not solely. The target age group is probably the 25-55’s although I hate putting people in age boxes.
What’s the audience response been so far to your material?
I’ve had an awesome response to my music so far. Sometimes it’s a bit surreal for me because I don’t expect it. But I do appreciate it when fans take the time to contact me with positive feedback. It’s invaluable.
What’s been your favourite gig? Why?
Now this is a really hard question. Can I have 3?
They are all favourites for different reasons.
The first was a gig in a pub in Crowthorne that I did almost 2 years ago. One of my first actually. I only sung lead on a few songs and was working with a guitarist then. I did a couple of covers that went down amazingly well and I was getting kinda mobbed. Even in the ladies loo! That was the day I realised my singing should be taken more seriously and that gig alone probably changed my life.
The second was 4 months later in the October where a pub landlord booked me after hearing me sing at another venue. It was for a birthday party. The audience got really into the show and by the end most of the pub were trying to get to the front to see me sing and everyone was dancing! When I finished there were calls for more and I did an encore…something I didn’t expect in a pub! That was an absolutely awesome gig!
Finally, I did a gig in Kintbury last October. Remembered for it being, to my mind, my best vocal performance. Lots of friends turned up and the place was packed. That was a great night.
Have you had any awful gigs? What made it awful?
I had one performance where I wasn’t happy with the first half of my performance. Feedback from friends afterwards disagreed with me but I know it wasn’t my best. I’m a perfectionist and knew I could sing loads better than that. But that’s live and that’s life. If you want perfect…buy the CD! Haha…
Where do you see yourself or where would you want to see yourself this year?
I’d like to think in the not too distant future I’ll be performing at ticketed live shows around the country to my fans. I think that’s the next step for me and we are working towards this.
Tell me about your fashion sense? Is that home grown?
Yes home grown definitely! As a child, I always dressed like the tomboy I was and often rejected what my mum tried to dress me in! I was such a difficult child when it came to clothing! As I got older I continued to choose trousers and jeans over dresses and skirts – I don’t actually own any dresses or skirts at all, it’s just not me.
How many gigs are you aiming for this year?
I’d like to be out there singing quite regularly. To cover as much south of Birmingham by Christmas as possible would be great.
Do you have any vices? Drink or smoke?
I don’t smoke or take drugs and never have. I do drink, wine is my usual, but I don’t drink that much really.
What’s your idea of downtime?
Downtime is when I sit down for more than 3 minutes in a row! Mum says I make her out of breath just watching me. I rampage through life like a whirlwind and find it hard to relax. But when I do chill out, socialising with friends is a favourite pastime. I’m a bit of a party animal! Any excuse for a party! Or I love to watch films. especially ones I’ve seen a hundred times. Drives my wife mad!
You mentioned on your site that you like the countryside so do you have an ideal spot?
There’s a huge field in Bucklebury near where I live where I walk the dogs. It’s very peaceful and I spend a lot of time thinking when I’m there. I also love being by the sea. Just watching.
Who are your inspirations? What makes them inspiring to you?
I am generally inspired by people who achieve their goals against the odds.
What advice would you give to any budding singers?
Advice I would give is firstly, get yourself a really good vocal coach. No matter how good you are, they’ll make you better. Secondly, look after yourself, eat well, drink lots of water and sleep enough. And thirdly, you will get out what you put in… so get out there and make it happen!
That’s great advice Niki especially since we do see a lot of new artists go down a slippery slope of naughty vices… Looking forward to more news on you and your gigs.
So folks and folkettes, if you fancy tooning into Niki’s tranquil vocals feel free to ask here or have fun checking out her site.