NJOMZA at Gov Ball 2019
Photo: Nate Hertweck/Recording Academy
NJOMZA Talks Gov Ball High, Transcending Genres, Friendship With Mac Miller & More
L.A.-based rising artist NJOMZA, born Njomza Vitia to Albanian parents, was signed by the late Mac Miller to his REMember label when she was just 17. She released her debut EP, sad for you, on his label in 2017, and maintained a close friendship with the GRAMMY-nominated rapper.
She put out a second EP, dedicated to self-love, Vacation, on Nov. 9, 2018, and was part of the super-team of writers on Ariana Grande's recent massive No. 1 hits, "Thank U, Next" and "7 rings"—you can catch her in girl squad in the latter video. It's been a great year for the young singer/songwriter, but she's just getting started.
The Recording Academy caught up with the colorful NJOMZA after her debut performance at Governors Ball yesterday to learn more about how it went, where the inspiration from her bright fashion sense comes, how she remembers the late Miller, and more.
Tell me a little bit about your Governors Ball experience, about your set at the dive bar stage. How did it go?
So sick. I had so much fun. This is my first time at Governors Ball and I'm literally high off of the adrenaline rush that I've had all day. It's been amazing.
You posted recently about being kinda hunkered down in your studio. I love the story about your neighbor going, “Look, you gotta keep it down, but it sounds good."
Yeah, thank you, yeah, literally. She was like, "Can you stop? But I like your music." Yeah I've been in the studio locked in, in Laurel Canyon right now just trying to soak up all the vibes from the rock legends that were once there.
Have you seen the movie Echo in the Canyon yet?
Not yet. I need to see that.
You've said you don't want to lock into a style. Do you feel like we're living in a genre-less world?
I think we're definitely living in a genre-less world and I think that's the most beautiful thing. I don't think we should have boundaries when it comes to anything. I mean, there should be boundaries for certain things obviously, but when it comes to creative freedom and just expressing yourself I think we should be free in that sense so definitely genre less world right now.
What are your influences when it comes to fashion?
I'm really just love color and just being vibrant and kinda loud with it, you know? Just being brave with my style, but I'm really influenced by '90s style and era; Lizzie McGuire type. All that stuff.
Love Lizzie McGuire. Man. Didn't expect a Lizzie McGuire reference.
Dude, so fire. That whole era was so sick. They were wearing the wildest clothes. Like, tank tops over tee-shirts and stuff, you know? It was crazy.
Honestly, I think it's the hair. I feel like Lizzie McGuire right now.
You're killing it.
Or like Lisa Left-Eye or something.
I have to ask you about these Ariana Grande tracks because it's such a game changer for you as a songwriter. How do you get a co-write those two huge songs?
Well Ariana and I are friends so we just kinda linked up to hang out and then I ended up in the studio with her and the other girls that were working on the project and then it just happened. It's crazy, and now it's all over the world. It's insane.
And if you're comfortable talking about it, I want to ask you about Mac Miller as well.
What are some of the things that you keep closest with you about him? Also, if you feel like talking it, the importance of mental health as an artist.
I would say that there would be no NJOMZA without Mac Miller. He's just helped me in so many ways creatively. Just getting my name out there, and just supporting me in every way, form possible. One of my best friends, one of the most amazing people I've ever met. Just blessed to have been able to know him, and I try to just focus on that.
When it comes to mental health, I think people do need to kinda step out of their heads a little bit and realize that we're all going through the same things, and just be there for each other as much as possible and don't be afraid to talk to each other, you know?
One more question, for fun. You're from Chicago right? What's your go to when you go back there?
Well my mom's cooking for sure. My mom cooking Albanian food every day. I'm Albanian, so getting to eat that. Also, you just have all the options. You have like Giordano's pizza and Lou Malnati's. You got all the deep dish. That's not the healthiest, and then Portillo's is fire. Honestly, anywhere you go it's gonna be rich and amazing, but probably not the best for your tummy if you're, you know, trying to keep it tight.