Nyah’s desire to perform manifested itself at an early age. After winning a local dance competition when she was just six years old, Nyah’s mother recognised her daughter’s natural talent and encouraged her to develop it. ‘I think that’s the first time my Mum noticed that I was really into music. After I won the dance competition, I started going to classes at Sylvia Young Theatre School on the weekend. At school, I starred in every cabaret there was.’
As Nyah grew older, her passion for music developed alongside her other great love in life: fashion. ‘In school, I did art and textiles, because I wanted to be a fashion designer.’ But, eager to pursue a career path that would enable her to provide financial support her single mother, Nyah put aside her creative ambitions at college and chose to study media. ‘I wanted to do performing arts, but my mum didn’t think I’d be able to get a job. So I half-heartedly started a media course.’ But Princess Nyah is not a woman who does ‘half-hearted’ very well. With characteristic boldness, she soon made the decision to drop out of college and started working full-time.
Ironically, it was at this point that her creative streak re-emerged and she began to embrace music once again. With the help of UK producer Def1, Nyah ventured down the path of songwriting for the first time. Def1 was rapping and making Hip Hop music and he helped me to get started.’ At the same time, Nyah also rediscovered her natural gift for performing and became Def1’s on-stage hype girl.
Like any true music-lover, Nyah’s passion was never limited to just one genre. A life-long fan of Hip Hop, Nyah soon developed a real love for dance and house music and began taking regular summer holidays to the Mediterranean party islands. ‘I went to Ayia Napa one year with one of my best friends and I heard ‘Tell Me What It Is’ by DJ NG ft. Baby Katy (now known to the world as Katy B). As soon as we got off the plane, we just threw our stuff down and went to straight to a club and we could just hear this bassline. It was the first time I heard the song and I fell in love.’
Nyah returned to the UK determined to start making the kind of hypnotic club music that she had danced to in Ayia Napa. ‘When I came back, I knew I wanted to try something different. I was driving home from work one day and I just started singing this hook in my car. So I called Def1 straight away and said ‘I’ve got any idea.’
That idea was Frontline, a track that would become one of the biggest club hits of 2009. A relative novice to the ins and outs of the music industry, Nyah drew upon her innate business intuition to ensure that the track was played by the right DJs, in the right clubs, and on the right radio stations. ‘Initially, I burnt just five CDs. There was a big rave coming up where I knew Marcus Nasty from Rinse FM would be playing, so I went down there with my CDs and gave him one. It just had ‘Princess’ written on there with my telephone number. The next day he rang and told me he loved it. Thanks to Marcus, a lot of people started calling me for the track. He basically pioneered the record through hammering it in the clubs and on Rinse FM. I ended up recording over 100 specials for DJs on stations across the UK, and it went on the 1Xtra playlist.’
Buoyant from the success of Frontline, Princess Nyah wasted no time in throwing herself into her music, and released her self funded debut E.P. Diary Of A Princess, which included the follow up club smash Hooligans, with Ghettz and Griminal on the remix, and Butterflies.
Besides working with notable MCs such as Wretch 32 and Wiley, Nyah worked with one of the UK’s most prolific producers, Donaeo to help incite the clubs once again with the remix of Party Hard, another UK club anthem.
Fast forward just a year and Nyah has not only recorded an explosive official remix of Major Lazer’s party anthem Pon De Floor but is also adding the final touches to her first album, the aptly titled Patience and Persistence. Diverse, vibrant and bursting with energy, the album showcases the best of Princess Nyah’s music, as well as herself. ‘I grew up on Hip Hop so that’s been a really strong influence, due to my Jamaican heritage there are lots of dancehall influences on there, too.’
As well as working with long-time collaborators Ill Blu, Princess Nyah has teamed up with legendary UK House and Garage producer MJ Cole to create an album that ultimately ‘…reflects my love of house and dance. I wouldn’t describe it as dance music per se, it’s a more a reflection of my influences, the English club experience, which varies depending on where you come from.’ And with its thudding bassline and infectious, electro-tinged hook, the album’s first single Take Control more than delivers in that respect.
At the same time, Nyah has continued to develop her clothing store Binghi’s Boutique, as well as launching her label RoyleTease Records, designing her own RoyleTease merchandise, and mentoring young women interested in entering the music industry. It’s a lifestyle that many would find exhausting, but Princess Nyah sees it all as part of the bigger picture. ‘I think that it’s really important, not just as a female but as an artist, to understand what it is you’re doing and your main objective. You need to be in control of your own direction and destiny, it is very easy to get lost. I know where I’m going, I know where I’m headed. Patience and Persistence are the keys to success.’