The gypsy. The wallflower. The wanderer. Each is a stranger in a strange land, often with much to say – but lacking a voice with which to say it. 16 year-old London, Ontario based singer/songwriter Nikki Whitehead is more than willing and able to speak on their behalf.
Quickly being compared to the likes of Lana Del Ray and Metric, Nikki projects an emotional honesty and wisdom beyond her years. Like every preceding generation, hers is filled with distinct loneliness and fear. Her powerful, yet vulnerable voice touches on love, doubt, sex, self-harm, and alienation – all themes common to Nikki and her peers.
She also has a big voice that harkens back to the day of women with guitars like Joni Mitchell, Stevie Nicks or Patti Smith.
Nikki describes her music as “pop music with cuts, tattoos, and honesty.” With straightforward, yet poignant, lyrics like, “Don’t know who to trust and who to doubt” and “Someone like you is much too wonderful, lovely for someone as sad as me,” Nikki has already garnered attention for her songwriting prowess.
She co-wrote her self-titled EP with producer Gavin Brown, who has worked with Barenaked Ladies, Metric, and Lady Gaga. Although working with someone with Brown’s credentials was at first intimidating, Nikki credits him with allowing her to grow through the songwriting and recording process. “I’ve been in and out of studios since I was 12,” says Nikki. “It’s kind of like a second home to me”.
“I was eleven when I joined my first band” she continues. “I was really into Joan Jett and AC/DC and Metallica. Then I got into punk, like The Sex Pistols and The Ramones. And then it all kinda just morphed from there, and I found my own sound.”
Discovering her passion for songwriting and singing at such a young age has allowed Nikki to assemble a group of like-minded players, musicians and misfits alike, to help realize her music. The result is a vibrant mix of guitars, piano, and haunting synths, all layered over a restless and hard-hitting rhythm section held together by Nikki’s enchanting voice.
“I think I’m an old soul,” she says. “I’ve always been mature for my age. And I get what it’s like to be the wallflower. I know what all that stuff feels like, so with this album I’m trying to show people that it’s okay to be different.”
It is this voice – young, powerful, and honest – that speaks for those who cannot.