Rising Detroit R&B singer Niko Noir aims to give listeners ‘the space to feel’

Niko Noir’s music journey is one of passion, soul, and forging her own path.

The 25-year-old Detroiter has been singing for as long as she can remember, but it wasn’t until high school that she fully immersed herself in her talent, first releasing music at the start of college. After her freshman year at Bethune-Cookman University in Florida, Niko dropped out to focus on her music career. She later attended the former Detroit Institute of Music Education to pursue music industry studies, but says she still wasn’t happy.

“I felt like I was following my Plan B, before I even attempted my Plan A,” Niko says. “It was helpful in some ways, but I just felt like I was learning a lot of things that I already knew.”

Now, the artist is back in school pursuing an esthetics license, and getting ready to release two new EPs this year. Her future goals include merging her passions, with hopes to do work in the beauty industry as well as grow her music career.

click to enlarge Niko Noir. - Courtesy of Niko Noir

Courtesy of Niko Noir

Niko Noir.

Niko describes her music as “melodic,” “poetic,” and “authentic,” with a sound heavily reminiscent of 2000s R&B, infused with elements of soul and jazz. Her influences include Brandy, Jasmine Sullivan, and James Fauntleroy.

“The 2000s R&B just had something to it, there was something in the air,” she says. “I like using descriptive words. I like using words that you don’t really hear other people use in songs. I try to not only expand my vocabulary, but the listeners as well… You’re in for a treat, you’re in for storytelling, some poetry with a beat behind it.”

She released her first EP, Blame Niko, in 2021, with its five tracks already showcasing poise and professionalism. On songs like “Needed You” and “Jefferson Ave,” the artist explores themes of relationships, love, and self-discovery, which are common threads throughout all her music.

Growing up on the eastside of Detroit, the city has also influenced Niko musically in unique ways.

“It’s definitely forced me to step into a more professional bag, very much. ‘Don’t play with me,’” she says. “People will try to get one over on you, people will try to dumb you down, gaslight you out of knowing your worth, so it’s definitely forced me to just put my business girl hat on.”

Attending high school at the Detroit School of Arts, Niko says that being a part of the vocal jazz choir was her favorite experience, playing a role in shaping her unique lyrical and sonic style.

“I feel like I can approach music in a grittier way,” she says. “There’s a lot of creatives in Detroit, but you have those creatives that are different and then you have those creatives who are kind of doing the same thing — there’s nothing wrong with it, if it works for you, then it works for you – but it’s kind of forced me to just step outside of the box, try to do things that everybody else in my vicinity isn’t doing because I just like to stand out. Some people might say it’s extra, but I don’t want to blend in.”

Throughout her musical journey thus far, Niko has learned to be more open-minded about opportunities to perform and collaborate.

“I’ve learned to just stop being so comfortable… sometimes when you step out on faith and you take on those opportunities or those chances that aren’t so comfortable they really put you in even bigger rooms or it just exposes you to a different audience, a different crowd,” she says. “Collaboration has started to become one of my favorite things in music. That’s something what I really prioritize nowadays. It’s super fun.”

In 2023, Niko released the fun and sexy single “Hummer” with local rapper Ink.

Recently, she has been working closely with producer Cardo, who she plans to release an EP with later this year.

First, though, she’s releasing the sequel to Blame Niko, her second EP titled Who Can Blame Niko?, which she plans to share with the world in late June or early July. The project’s name, and overall content, cleverly showcases her growth from self-doubt to greater confidence in her decisions.

“It’s me just embracing me and my choices, not feeling bad. The first one was just like, ‘I did this’ and being more so ashamed of it in a sense,” she says. “But this one is just like, ‘Well, this is a choice I made and that’s what I’m doing.’ I’m more free. I’m kind of just ridding myself of any guilt, any shame, like ‘I’m grown.’”

The artist just released the first single, “Personal,” for the upcoming project.

“‘Personal’ is one of my babies,” Niko says. “That actually wasn’t even going to be on the project, but I had been performing it so often and people would ask me, like, ‘When are you dropping that?’ I kind of just forced it on the project and it actually fits very well. I sat on that song for about a year and had no plan for it. I’m just glad it’s out and people can enjoy it.”

Through her music, Niko aims to convey the importance of embracing your emotions.

“I really want my music to allow people the space to feel and not shy away from feelings because I really feel like we are going through an emotion deficit right now,” she says. “This generation is just so afraid to feel out loud. We may feel behind closed doors by ourselves but it’s also okay to showcase that, it’s also okay to share that with your friends, with people you love. If somebody makes you angry, let them know. Don’t hurt them, but like emotions are emotions, we’re all human. I don’t feel like we should shy away from that.”

Music is not the only way Niko hopes to make others feel good. In the future, she hopes to launch her own skincare line and fragrance alongside growing her music career.

“I have a love for making things beautiful and building people’s confidence,” Niko says. “I definitely want to mix them both. I just don’t know how. I know artists nowadays, they’re stepping out in different ventures like we got Rihanna she literally just announced a hair [care brand]. I don’t even know what she’s doing. At some point, it’s going to have to integrate. I feel like the music is going to kick start that skincare line and the fragrances.”

Looking forward, Niko hopes to move out of Detroit, possibly to North Carolina or San Francisco.

“I definitely want to get into a whole different music scene,” she says. “I love Detroit, I really do, but I just feel like I’ve seen what I needed to see. I’m done; I feel like I’m doing side missions. There’s just a constant waiting game here, and I don’t ever know what I’m waiting for.”

Niko has previously performed in Detroit, opening for Grammy-nominated R&B artist Kenyon Dixon at El Club, participating in shows for So Far Sounds, and appearing on Live in the D. On June 15, the singer is set to headline a show titled Non Stop at The Photo House at 4036 Vinewood St. in Detroit, with plans for additional performances in the near future, ideally with a live band.

Ultimately, she says she just wants people to remember to have fun while making music.

More information about Niko Noir is available on Instagram @niko.noir. Her music is available on all streaming platforms.

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