Music Premier – Niki Black’s “Not Coming Up”

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Photo by Maddie Cordoba

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Niki Black is Iranian-American, with an array of influences that represent her mixed heritage. While her father, a Chicago native, introduced her to the blues and American classics, her mother filled the house with Persian cultural influences – from the mystical writings of Rumi to the sounds of Iranian pop legend, Googoosh.

Drawing influence from the melodies and chord progressions of these styles opera and musical theater, Niki also gets inspiration from pop artists like Lorde, Blood Orange, Years & Years, and Sevdaliza. “They’re the perfect blend of otherworldliness, beauty, modernity, and rebellion,” shares Niki.

Niki is set to release her debut EP, which was largely inspired by her — wait for it — studies in feminist theology.

“I was enchanted by old Judaism, namely the mythology of the female demon Lilith, and how she mirrors Eve,” shares Niki. “The thousands of years of interpretations of the myths of the religious texts are goldmines in the way that they illuminate my creativity and thoughts, and also how they inform so many of our modern generation’s conscience, especially when it comes to sexual politics.”

This American Gospel meets Kate Bush single, “Not Coming Up,” is a dark and beautiful ode to her first lesbian relationship. Prague’s House of Black Madonna, a shrine to one of the most important religious figures of divine femininity, is the perfect backdrop for the video.

“I felt the church to be central to the song’s idea of being denied entrance to heaven because of your sexuality,” she says.

You’re not likely to hear a modern pop artist throw out an allusion to a 14th-century ballad, but Niki Black is obviously not your average R&B or pop icon. Speaking of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Black’s new EP offers a remix on the story of the descent from heaven to hell.

“I wanted to retell that descent from a modern feminine perspective, one of the damned, which some of us may feel like sometimes, or all the time….whether it’s from religion directly, from a relationship, or from yourself,” says Niki.

Photo by Maddie Cordoba

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