WPGM Commentary: Nicola Gaea Explores Complexities Of Being Alive On Debut EP ‘Rise’

Hi! My name is Nicola Gaea (pronounced guy-uh) and I am a singer-songwriter from London. My work is rooted in earthiness and free thinking and so my music reflects my emotions, lessons learned and exploration of identity in my life experiences.

I would say my sound is ever-evolving, as am I as a person. I don’t want to be bound by genres or specific sounds. My music taste is very varied and I appreciate many different types of music and this is how I want to approach my own music making.

I genuinely have been singing my whole life, although that sounds Cliche. Growing up, there was always music playing in my house. From my mum playing 80s pop and disco and reggae classics to my eldest brother playing early 2000s Hip-Hop and R&B.

For this reason, I’ve always associated music with a sense of home. I knew I wanted music to be my career from when I was 8 years old and sang on stage for the first time in my school assembly. I sang “Killing me softly” by the Fugees and it’s a moment that will stay with me always because that’s when I realised singing felt like home too.

I have released four singles since 2022 and my debut EP Rise, supported by Help Musicians and the MOBO Awards was released on March 12. The EP is experimental in its musicality, taking inspiration from genres like neo-soul, jazz, old-school garage and R&B to formulate a sound of its own.

I worked with producer Jason Robinson and Alfie Rudman on this project, creating a range of vocal textures, guitar solos, multiple vocal stacks, harmonies, complimentary adlibs and layered instrumentation to create a powerful feeling that mirrors the deeper meaning of the lyrics.

Rise explores the complex feelings of being alive, but simultaneously acknowledges the responsibility to feel, to love, to heal, to rise for yourself and for others. I’ve been exploring who I am as a person and what makes me, me in therapy over the last couple of years and the project is an introduction to my world, my mind and my reality.

The notion of ‘rising’ really resonates with my journey as an artist because I had to overcome years of minimal confidence to get to the point where I’m even able to finish a song, let alone release it. This project, to me, is my arrival as an artist and the body of work that breaks down the barriers of my artistic insecurity. It’s my rising.

The songwriting of the songs on the EP came very naturally. They were made over the course of two months and I was writing nearly every evening. I would just let my intuition guide me. When a song felt forced, I would park it and maybe return later if it felt right to.

Most of the songs you hear on the project were songs written in one session because those words were ready to flow out of me at that time. After I had written the songs with beats from my archive, I would bring them to Jason, who is also a close friend of mine.

He just understood straight away what type of sonic journey I wanted to go on and he went with it, taking the ideas and developing them into what you hear today. From the very beginning, we discussed what we wanted, the mood we wanted to create with the project and the genres we wanted to play with.

In July last year, I went away to the UK countryside with close friends of mine who are also contributing musicians on the EP. Tim Andres on guitar, Tiina Kanerva on the trumpet, Holly James on harmonies and backing vocals and of course Jason Robinson as the executive Producer.

In this writing camp we finalised all the songs and track 4 of the EP, “Seasons” was actually born during this 3-day weekend. We created memories that will stay with me forever and it was so much fun working on a project that is so close to my heart with such amazing musicians and friends. It has made the project that little bit more special.

Listen to my debut EP Rise below and stream it everywhere else here.

Words by Nicola Gaea // Follow her on Instagram + TikTok

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