Photo Credit: Corey Sealz
When it comes to ordinary, Naya Liviah is anything but. Her parents made sure her existence would be one that strayed from the expected as the two of them had never done what people felt they should or even would. Now she’s keeping the tradition going as a singer who knows no bounds when it comes to genre and style. From her country past to her pop present, this is Naya Liviah.
Kendra: When did you start to realize music could be your career?
Naya Liviah: The first time I performed one of my own songs live when I was about 14-years-old. It was the first time I ever experienced a beautiful energy exchange that happens with a captive audience. It’s almost like magic! I thought, “Wow, I could see myself doing this for a long time.”
Kendra: You come from a mixed background and grew up in Japan. Has your family and various locales helped shape how you approach not only the world but your lyrics and the pursuit of your goals?
Naya Liviah: Love this question! Growing up around different cultures and witnessing the unique way in which my parents’ paths unfolded taught me the importance of being authentic and living a life on my own terms️. My parents were never ones to follow the norm (dad was a Rwandan Diplomat’s son who went on to become an international DJ, mom was a Saskatchewan farm-girl who became an international model) and they always encouraged me to be comfortable with being different because let’s face it, I was pretty different.
When I was in Tokyo, there weren’t a lot of little kids with big brown curls who spoke English more than Japanese. Anyways, this sense of confidence that was instilled in me at a young age has translated into my career! It made me unafraid to take risks musically as I’ve explored different genres and has also kept me motivated to keep pursuing my dream of having music as a career despite society’s view of it being impractical.
Kendra: Not only your latest single but your sound overall – you’ve noted it’s all like a Canadian Summer. Can you describe one of those days in a few words?
Naya Liviah: A summer memory that I pulled from when writing “Higher” was when I was on a date by the lakefront one evening. The way the sun was setting on the water was so stunning, it was like a painting. There was a magnetic feeling with this person, we stayed and cuddled in the grass under the fireworks. It sounds cheesy, but it was kind of a magical night.
Kendra: In the past, you put out some more country-pop records. Now you’re verging on straight-up pop. Are you the type that doesn’t like the restrictions of genre?
Naya Liviah: I think it is important to be open to inspiration as an artist and trying different sounds has helped me to develop my craft! Authenticity is what I admire most in artists like Kacey Musgraves, Ed Sheeran, and Sade who don’t fall under one distinct genre. Sometimes a song will come to me that sounds country, other times I’ll write a song that I envision with an R&B/jazz vibe. Right now, I’m focusing on more of an electronic-pop sound though!
Kendra: When you got into the studio with James Shelley, what did he bring out in you when it came to recording “Higher?”
Naya Liviah: James is so positive and full of creative ideas. With his in-session vocal coaching, he brought out different tones and styles in my vocal takes so that we had a variety to choose from! He also just has this upbeat energy that made the experience a ton of fun. I’m so grateful to be able to work with someone so talented, hardworking and supportive.
Kendra: Speaking of, this song is about one of the hardest things for most people – keeping a relationship alive. Do you have any go-to advice for sustaining a relationship?
Naya Liviah: I’m not an expert by any means, but in my experience, I’ve found communication or lack there-of can make or break a relationship.
Kendra: You’re still so young and have many years ahead of you in music, but what’s the next year look like for you?
Naya Liviah: 2020 is going to be an exciting year, I can already feel it. We’ll be releasing three new songs leading up to an EP at the end of the year!