The Korean R&B scene seems to be thriving at the moment! Nowadays there are a greater number of female artists out there releasing music which is a good sign that things are moving in the right direction. We are excited to present music by Nieah (니아) in this K-SPOTLIGHT K-indie music feature, for she is a notable R&B songwriter, producer and vocalist. She has done things the hard way, by learning and doing things independently. The results of her songwriting are clear to see. The tracks are amazing. There are so many positive things to say about her musical output so far, so please don’t hesitate to read on for a detailed review of Nieah’s first EP that was released in February, titled ‘Timeless’ and to listen to some of our other recommendations from her back catalogue. We hope that many of you become new fans of Nieah and the ChillWithus crew!
Please remember that it is important to support the artist and the team by purchasing the music! Here are quick links to Google Play, Bandcamp and iTunes in case you forget! Those links will be repeated again alongside Nieah/ChillWithus’ social media addresses with additional details regarding purchase options for ‘Timeless’ at the end of this article, so please scroll down the page to find out how to follow Nieah’s activities and to see what NEW merchandise is available.
If you missed our interview with Nieah, click here to go back and read the Q&A to learn more about her and the team, ChillWithus!
An introduction to Nieah and the ChillWithus crew
Nieah has always been someone we have been keeping an eye on, simply because she shows so much promise. She did so even at an early stage, and we just think that it was immediately apparent that she is an artist who is quite special. She consistently manages to achieve a deeper level of intensity in her music compared to many others, and the beats, mixing and production in her releases are of a high tier quality too. To us, that is enough to put her head and shoulders above the rest, so it is our pleasure to champion her music here! We are just sorry to not have done so sooner!
Nieah has maintained a good relationship with her crew since they first collaborated together for the song ‘Tell Me Why’. They are collectively known as ‘ChillWithus’, consisting of Nieah, Jay Dope and Mute. The boys both help with composing and production, and Mute additionally has a role in mixing and mastering. Jay Dope occasionally writes lyrics with Nieah and raps on her tracks too. They have worked well together thus far, and the result is the creation of some amazing songs. These tracks can be described as contemporary and chillout, with an underlying R&B/soul backbone.
What we think is a key factor to the strength of quality in their releases is that each song is crafted from an initial concept. Once the idea is set, it forms a strong foundation for the component parts to be added, and the members keep focused on that concept throughout the songwriting process. All this together, serves to enhance those first thoughts and ideas into something quite spectacular.
Stylish vocals and sublime production
The first ingredient of great R&B music that Nieah gets absolutely right, is that smooth flow, that feels like it reaches eternity and beyond. No matter if she quickens the tempo, jumps higher or lower within the melody, she never breaks that flowing line in the music. Her style is like a swirling vortex of water, which you can easily find yourself wholly immersed in and hypnotised by.
The figure of Nieah working hard in the ChillWithus studio! ©Nieah. 04.04.2017
When listening to any Nieah track, we are constantly reminded that we have encountered a team with the ability to harness the essential core of multiple ideas and seamlessly knit them in such an outstanding way.
We cannot continue without mentioning Nieah’s vocals. She has a beautiful tone for R&B with a vocal delivery that is breathtaking. We have a lot of admiration for her phrasing and how well she crafts her songs. She really is incredible. Nieah regularly pens her own lyrics too and many of her tracks have never left our playlist. In general, it is still relatively uncommon for us to encounter an EP where we like the majority of the content, but with Nieah’s latest EP and previous discography, that has never been a problem. This emphasis on quality is one of the strongest aspects of the musical output from ChillWithus, with Mute and Jay Dope playing a big part in maintaining that consistency.
Music review and track recommendations
That brings us nicely to the beginning of our review of Nieah’s music!
We will start with the new songs from ‘Timeless’, her first EP mini album. You can see the cover image at the top of this article. There are 5 tracks to the EP (listed in order): Deja Vu, Underline (feat. Jay Dope), Know Me (feat. Rick Bridges), Cactus Flower and Tell Me Why. The last 2 songs were previously available digitally before the release of ‘Timeless’.
This track is classic Nieah. Rolling snares, a chilled style and sultry vocals that match the darkest of nights. This time, however, she does try for a grittier sound in places, accenting when singing the first note of each phrase. There are some nice double time bars too, keeping the track interesting in terms of tempo. Like the title ‘Deju Vu’, the chorus feels endless, like a looped piece of string, pulsing along smoothly with its recurrent theme. You will soon feel the kick of the drums beating in time with your own heartbeat; such is the lure of this song. It’s a nice choice for the beginning of the EP!
Underline (Feat. Jay Dope)
This track starts with a shimmer and a thudding bass, getting into its groove very quickly. We really like the short guitar riffs that are added in places during the song. It’s the little details that hook us in. Each time we listen, we discover something new about it! The word ‘underline’ works surprisingly well with the melody here; Nieah made it fit into the melodic line by elongating the end of the word, which is a smart idea! During the chorus, the lower vocals actually take centre-stage, with the delivery at the higher register giving adequate embellishment and support to propel this part of the song forward. The harmonies are also a big highlight. Jay Dope features with a rap section that is fitting with the mood of the track, mid-tempo and consistent. An atmospheric pause is added, before Nieah returns once more, to see us out with another rendition of that dreamy chorus.
Know Me (feat. Rick Bridges)
Our favourite new song that features on the EP has to be ‘Know Me’ (feat. Rick Bridges) because it feels like a step forward from what she has done before. Rather than belt flat out with power notes, Nieah manages to instill intensity and fire using her own style, and at other times a lilting quality that evokes a fragility; her voice becomes like the thinnest piece of glass. The rap interlude is raw and lyrically aggressive which contrasts well with the other parts of the song. We love this one because of its balance between light and shade. The ending caught us by surprise as the use of effects on her own voice warps it unexpectedly for the wind down. This track is the hidden gem of the EP for sure. If you only have time to listen to one track from ‘Timeless’, make sure it is ‘Know Me’!
*Warning: Please note that there is some use of strong language in the rap section.
‘Cactus Flower‘ was the song that led us to discover Nieah. From the first line that she delivered, we were entranced and hooked in. Her singing seamlessly flows through each section, moving between Korean and English. It is sometimes spiky and staccato and other times full and soulful, while so many complementary effects are taking place in the background. We love the little run of quickfire lyrics around the 1:35 mark. ‘Cactus Flower‘ is such an interesting track, that we never tire of listening to it. This will always be one of our favourites.
Tell Me Why
There are 2 versions to ‘Tell Me Why’, a very danceable ChillWithus remix, and the original. We’ve chosen to discuss the darker sounding original here. ‘Tell me why’, remains to us, one of best productions from the team. From the accented beats to bold interjections of brass, sublime harmonisation and layering, to Nieah’s vocal embellishments in the final throes of the song, the whole atmosphere and concept of this track is as brooding and masterful as the first day we listened to it.
You get to hear Nieah’s higher notes in this one, and they soar. The supporting vocals are much needed in the chorus to elevate its distinction from the verses, just one of the many effective decisions that were made in putting this song together. We also like the inclusion of brass and the very ominous piano chord that comes in before the final injection of the chorus, embellished with hauntingly beautiful adlibs. There were some English lyrics available which demonstrate the longing for her lover to open up about things being kept secret. It is to Nieah’s credit that as a listener, you can distinguish between the moments of anguish and love in the song.
The questions you couldn’t ask,
The hurt you couldn’t hold back
You don’t have to hide anymore
The things you had to keep secret.
You can tell me everything truthfully,
From now on, give me all of your pain,
But only if it’s okay with you
I will hold you tight, don’t worry.
The song has an overarching haunting feeling, enveloped by the mood of the night. Yet another example of Nieah’s versatility. She beats many of her peers hands down with this one.
Next, we have chosen some of her previous tracks to recommend to new listeners. The artwork is pretty and very eye-catching too! Keep reading!
This early song is one of our long-lasting favourites. We have to say that this photo is beautiful too! ‘No Rush’ rolls along nicely at a faster tempo than you would first anticipate from the initial bars. Nieah switches between English and Korean without so much as a flutter. We love how powerful her voice is here! She makes each statement with clear intent during the chorus, a bold accompaniment to the soft verses. There are small sections where she allows the listener to recover from the flurry of fast-paced lyrics, with these slower periods being very apt for a song that is about not being too hasty! The scenario behind her words is fairly simple in nature; she sings to a lover to follow her slowly and tells them that she will be there through the difficult times.
No Way (feat. Kamo)
This is a fun upbeat number by Nieah. There is no waiting around at the beginning with this track, you get a lot of interesting sounds and different effects switching up every 10 seconds or so. Featuring Kamo was a great idea. His parts initially slow things down, then build back up gradually for Nieah to sing that catchy chorus, full of glorious syncopated rhythms and pierced with staccato delivery at very carefully placed points. This song ends before you know it, but we could have happily listened to another full minute! A brilliant effort. Highly recommended. Listen to it here.
‘Why’ and ‘Alright’ are the remaining songs on Nieah’s Bandcamp page. ‘Why’ is a little more in keeping with a conventional R&B sound while ‘Alright’ makes use of a recurring lyrical motif and a ‘wub’ effect that is typical in dubstep. Both are solid releases which you can check out for yourselves.
Nieah has been quietly doing her thing and making music, and even so, has started to make little ripples that have caught the attention of audiences online including websites Buzzfeed, Soompi and HiphopLE. Her music speaks volumes, moreso than any words that we could use and write here. She is still flying a little under the radar for now, but very much deserves more recognition for her work, as do the rest of the ChillWithus crew. They tend to keep a fairly low profile at the moment, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The most important part is always the music afterall, and they have been taking care of that, first and foremost. The next steps will be the crucial ones, and so we hope that the team will find opportunities to expose their music to an ever greater listening public when they feel ready. But for the moment, you really are missing out if you don’t hear at least one Nieah track. We certainly loved listening to all of her music!
We cannot wait to see what Nieah does next, because we are positive that there are exciting times ahead for her, just waiting around the corner.
How to support Nieah and ChillWithus
Please support Nieah by purchasing her music! Her whole digital discography is available on her official Bandcamp page and you can also buy via Google Play or iTunes. If you happen to prefer physical copies of music, her ‘Timeless’ EP is available in multiple formats, including a CD or USB version. There is even an option to purchase both together as a package bundle!
Follow Nieah’s activities and be on the pulse with her music and ChillWithus by using the links below:
Featured image source: © ‘Timeless’ EP cover image. Nieah. 31.03.2017. Image was kindly provided by Nieah for use in this article.
In-article images source: © ‘Cactus Flower’, ‘No Way’, ‘Rush’, cover artwork, official picture of Nieah, and ‘Timeless’ merchandise photographs. Nieah. 30.03.2017. Nieah’s official Bandcamp page. Images were either provided by Nieah or reproduced with permission for use in this article.
© Inspire me Korea. 08.04.2017.
BandcampbeatmakerCactus FlowerchilloutChillWithuscontemporarycrewDeja VuepJay DopeK-indieK-spotlight specialKnow MeKOREAN MUSICmerchandisemini albumMuteNieahNo RushProducerR&BRecommendationreleaseReviewRick Bridgessinger-songwritersoulsoundcloudTell Me WhyTimelessUnderlineYouTube