Jamaica Gleaner / To the casual dancehall/reggae listener, the name Nyla may not grab their attention as quickly as hearing Brick and Lace. The former girl group member-turned-solo artiste is one-third of the singing trio formed with sisters Tasha and Nyanda, although remembered as a duo (sometimes confused as twins) that arrived on the scene with Love is Wicked in 2004.
In 2013, the inevitable split had fans demanding a return of the easy-going hardcore performing pair. Following a period with barely any productions after the release of the Love is Wicked album under Akon’s Kon Live record label, and writing lyrics for top international artistes like Jennifer Lopez and Nicole Sherzinger.
Meanwhile, as the group publicised taking a hiatus in order to focus on their images as individuals, the now considered dancehall-reggae-R&B-pop fusion recording artiste Nyla has been featured on many collaborations. These include Sean Paul’s Pornstar , Ed Sheeran’s Shape of You, and Light it Up with Major Lazer and Fuse ODG (which she is more popularly known for).
She believes in letting your light shine and your voice heard. Her journey did not happen overnight, but is one that allowed her to adopt strength along the way.
“In some aspects it’s been harder, and some, easier. the onus is now on you. There is freedom in that you can steer the ship whichever way you want to and there is empowerment in that. I have learnt so much about myself, to really stand on my own two feet, which quieted a lot of the self-doubt I felt in the beginning,” Nyla told The Gleaner .
As an entertainer that continually reinvents herself, Nyla explains in an interview with The Gleaner how everything influenced her sound, outlook on life as well as a name change – although the minor alteration to the spelling, from Nailah to Nyla, barely changes pronunciation or meaning.
“The name change was a refresher, I wanted to reinvent myself and really get a fresh start. My original name is beautiful, but I thought it was too hard to pronounce so I was like, I gotta make this easier,” she said.
Standing up… Stepping outside the box
In the midst of all the changes, Nyla says that being a part of Brick and Lace and around a family of female siblings is definitely fun in some aspects, but in other ways, a bit stifling.
“We are very strong-minded girls, so you learn to be tough and fight for your own voice to be heard. When you are one of four sibling girls, you always find yourself being compared, or someone is always trying to single one out for being the prettiest, the smartest, the best singer, the most outgoing, and the list goes on.”
She continued: “Sometimes it got exhausting until I realised that I would never truly be happy if I didn’t get out on my own and stand in my own identity, whether I liked it or not.”
Nyla’s debut single, Stand Up , was released in August 2013 under Ky-Mani Marley’s Konfrontation Music and later the ’90s vibe track Body Calling , produced by Jus Eazy Productions. However, the multiplatinum recording artiste admits that it has not been the easiest transition into a solo career.
Her journey makes her apt at balancing the tightrope as she walks as a female artiste and soon-to-be multitasking mom. A month ago, the singer delivered the news of her pregnancy on Instagram with a post of her in a red bodycon dress posing with one hand on her belly, exuding that pregnancy glow.
Nyla, who declines to reveal too much information regarding that part of her personal life, is still quite the passionate talker.
Her duality fosters the creation of a blend of music that sounds different, what she likes to refer to as world music or global music.
“I really don’t like to put myself in a box. I want my music to cross genres and borders – whatever that is. well, I guess that’s my sound,” Nyla said.
With over 10 years as a singer-songwriter in the industry, Nyla mentioned that she had recognised where things have changed a lot and she had have to be adaptable, while keeping in tune with the current and future trends.
“You can put out a record without a label and it does well. It also seems that the DJs are the real stars now. they are the artistes and the ones getting booked for shows. In these times, it is up to you as the artiste to stay on it as nothing stays the same, and for you to last, you have to evolve.”
Nyla has ambitions to be a globally respected entertainer and interior designer. She recently earned an Associates of Science degree with a specialisation in interior design and is a member of the American Society for Interior Designers.
“It is something I want to pursue more of. it’s just another creative outlet for me that I hope will grow into something fruitful,” Nyla said.
It’s more than just a career path. as she becomes empowered enough to look beyond deals and demands to focus on what is important to her: her individuality.
“You have to step outside your comfort zone, keep good people around you that dream big and believe in you, sometimes more than you believe in yourself. Let them know you are not there for your assets, but for your talent and that you deserve to be there,” Nyla said.
Noting that last year April she was on a stage performing Light It Up for scores of persons at the extravagant opening ceremony of the Indian Premier League and spent most of 2016 promoting the track, next April, she will be nursing a four-month-old baby, but it is not in this hard-working artiste’s plans to take too long a maternity leave.
“I would like to get back to my career (that’s just who I am). but you know, the little one may have other plans. There are a lot more things I want to do, so I’ll just have to figure it out. In the past, I made the mistake of not allowing things to happen naturally. with that said, I do have projects set to come out next year,” she said.