The blue-haired singer sits across from me cross-legged and beaming. Njomza performed at Governors Ball Music Festival on the Honda Stage at 12:15pm, which admittedly wasn’t her ideal time slot, but the crowd showed up ready to jam to her soulful sound. Following her first set, the Chicago-raised singer-songwriter took her talents to the Bud Light Dive Bar Sessions Stage, which gave her a more intimate setting to perform to her fans. “I like having a little vibe. I like to be something you could hear at a lounge or a coffee shop or something. That’s where I feel at home,” Njomza explains.
The 25-year-old artist was discovered and signed at 17 by the late rapper Mac Miller, and that relationship gave her a confidence she carries with her today. “Mac was all about the music. I was still in high school when he signed me and that’s where my tough skin came from. I knew one person believed in me so I knew I was doing something right,” she reveals.
With an emotional sound that is reminiscent of Amy Winehouse, Njomza has recently started to fully embrace her creativity and become more experimental with her music. “Growing up, I was always trying to figure out what my ‘sound’ was. Now I’m like, everything is my sound. I am the sound.”
Having a legend like Mac Miller as her mentor at such a transformative age, Njomza says she learned something every single day simply by watching the rapper work and create. “He was my mentor and my best friend at the same time. We FaceTimed every day. Anytime I was in my own head about stuff, he would remind me to focus on making good music. I try and think about that every day. Part of the way I work and create is from him; I owe it to him,” she explains. “I’m never going to come to terms with what happened and I’m never going to feel okay. But, I’m appreciative of the time I got to spend with [Mac Miller]. It was a huge blessing.”
Through her relationship with Miller, Njomza bonded with pop sensation Ariana Grande and co-wrote the hit song “7 Rings.” Reflecting on working on a wildly successful song and music video, Njomza says that being able to create music during such a dark time was the most rewarding thing.
Njomza’s music video for her latest single “One Foot In The Water” was recently released and through a brilliant display of imagery, audiences can get a clear portrayal of her creativity and unique vibe. With soulful vocals combined with an authentic energy, Njomza puts self-acceptance at the forefront of her new music. “It takes bravery to know your flaws and embrace them,” she says. “There’s a lot of pressure, especially on women. You have to have tough skin and not let anyone bother you.” While this is admittedly easier said than done, the singer is slated to release new music this summer, and listeners can expect “a realer version” of Njomza. “I’m starting to get a little braver with how I create. I’m being a lot more honest with records. It’s about letting your guard down and letting your insecurities out,” she says of her upcoming music.
While at 25 Njomza is learning to be more honest through her music and tap into her most creative energy, I ask the artist what she would tell her 16-year-old self. Taking a subtle cue from her friend and collaborator, Ariana Grande, Njomza says: “Remember to breathe. You learn with every mistake.”
Watch the official video for “One Foot In The Water” below.