Meet the Artist: Nikki Inocencio

Welcome to the Limelight Records blog! Stay up to date to meet our artists for the 2017-2018 school year, and be sure to come to our Limelight Showcase on Friday, October 20 from 10pm-2am in Tap House.

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This week, I sat down for an iced caramel latte with Nikki Inocencio, a first-year acoustic Indie pop artist from Durham, NC. As a brand new Limelight artist, Nikki is hoping this experience will help her learn to speed up her writing process and persevere, even when the music or lyrics aren’t coming out quite right in the moment. Nikki has been involved in music her entire life, though her focus has evolved as she has developed over the years. “It’s always kind of been there,” Nikki recalls, “There was always a piano in the house, so I would sit and press things, and eventually it sounded good!” When she was eight years old, Nikki began taking violin lessons and continued throughout high school. At age ten, her uncle bought her her very first guitar. Around this time, she began writing songs often, and sought to refine her sound in high school. Her hard work culminates in a playlist of her more recent music that you can find on SoundCloud. With regard to her songwriting, Nikki explains, “I actually wrote less in high school, but it was better. I have a very personal connection to my music because it’s kind of therapeutic to me.”

This therapeutic property of music and songwriting guided Nikki through a couple major life transitions. Nikki is bisexual, and coming out to friends and family was a major step in her personal life. Additionally, Nikki’s mom and younger brother moved to Alaska when she was a freshman in high school. “In those times when I was struggling with the transition of my mom and coming out, the thing that kept me going was music,” Nikki admits, “There were songs and artists that I could genuinely connect to and it made me feel less alone.” As a result, Nikki strives to elicit the same effect in listeners with her own music: “It’s about connecting and relating to people without having to know them.”

Perhaps we owe it to Nikki’s high school music teacher that we can listen to her art now. In high school, Nikki served as a violinist in a music group. As the years passed and Nikki spent more time in her high school’s music department, she blossomed and joined two a cappella groups and ended her senior year with a recital at which she played guitar and sang a solo. Her final recital was particularly special for another reason, too; Nikki’s mom was in the audience, just like she had been at Nikki’s first high school recital prior to moving to Alaska. Consequently, Nikki dedicated her solo – “Love Will Set You Free” by Kodaline – to her mom.

When I asked Nikki’s current favorite song, she consulted her Spotify account to see what she has listened to most recently. Despite her acoustic essence, she replied, “’Good Old Days’ by Macklemore, featuring Kesha.” To follow up, I inquired about her favorite song out of her own repertoire as a songwriter. “’Drive’ was a big step artistically,” she notes of her most recent song. With regard to the other three songs she has posted on SoundCloud, she felt that she played it safe, commenting that they were just ballads with acoustic guitar; “but with ‘Drive’ I was like, ‘I’m gonna do this and I don’t care if it sounds weird,’ and it ended up sounding good.”

As you listen to her music, Nikki hopes you find yourself forming a bond with the meaning of the song: “I don’t have to know [the listener], but I think there’s a part of me in the music, and if someone else can listen and relate, there’s also a part of them in the music, so I want to share that moment with people.”

To hear Nikki’s music, please check out her account on SoundCloud and join us for our Limelight Showcase on Friday, October 20 from 10pm-2am at Tap House!

Jess Burchett


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