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The Value of Time

In anticipation of Niia's new album, the two sat down to discuss just that—career versus desire, letting your guard down, and taking control by taking off your pants. 


Clare—Where were you born?


Niia—Boston, Mass.


C—How glad are you that you're from the East coast! I'm from Philadelphia. How long you been in LA?


N—Yes! 6 years, moved here for a relationship. That's no longer a thing, And my new album is all about how it feels wasting 6 years on the person I thought I was supposed to marry.


C—Damn. When I first moved here we once had a meeting and I remember this fancy ass house you were living in at the time, I think that was with him, no?


N—Yes my shell of a Black Mirror House. It was something I thought I wanted, but turns out Black Mirror is not real, it's just a TV show. Thank god.


C—Haha... It's annoying and beautiful how much our perspective on what we want can shift with time. How desires become illusory. I'm going through that now in trying to figure out if my career makes me happy.


N—Yeah, tell them what you do!


C—I do creative direction for musical artists, photography, stage design, album packing, etc.


N—And yes shooting. I was so excited to finally shoot with you in your studio and I must say I was far more comfortable than I've been in front of a camera in a long time. I stopped doing shoots because I wasn't ready to let my guard down as the creative pressure is uncomfy. It's so saturated out there I wasn't sure how to trust someone else leading.


C—That inherent trust is the redeeming part about my job—because it's the giving into vulnerability part that ends up being really rewarding. I appreciated that you were ass out in my studio with just a g string. It’s a privilege to feel that comfortable.


N—I guess I find it freeing to be around another woman who can make me feel comfortable and sexy while feeling her strength and confidence to let me be me and show off my body in a way that doesn’t shift the energy. It’s a lot about how the photographer makes me feel. I don’t do that for just anyone. You have a way about you and I’m curious where you think it came from. If it was something you always had or something that’s recent? You probably could have convinced me to do a lot worse lol. I’m not great with other women so it’s really mysterious and refreshing to me.


C—That's really nice. I think being able to be that way comes from early learning around self expression and play. And probably Quaker school to be honest.


N—What the fuck is Quaker school? I went to Catholic school where we were all maschoists, I just think of Oatmeal, what is Quaker school?


C—Haha, Quakers founded Pennsylvania, William Penn and Benjamin Franklin were Quakers. It's not a religion but a philosophical way of being. The principles are integrity, equality, peace, freedom of conscience, community, simplicity etc. etc. It was historically Christian, but Christian's who didn't want to be Catholics and wanted everyone to be included no matter what they believed in. God isn't directly involved.


N—Wow, okay that explains a lot. How does that translate into leading, though? Like shooting with you, you were so natural at leading and it felt so easy, like magic. There was nothing jarring about you being assertive. As if you were secretly leading.


C—Yeah maybe that's the equality trying to have a creative collaboration is letting there be space for play—experimentation—and flexibility so that no one feels pressure or embarrassed. I'm curious how that fits in with you writing music- I can't imagine that being easy. I would be so self conscious trying to invent a sound but then again that's not something i've ever tried.


N—Writing for me now is completely selfish, I feel it has to be for where I’m at. I think before I was too worried about how I’d be perceived. Same reason why I wasn’t shooting with anyone.


C—For sure. Do you have a song you wrote that made you feel particularly brave?


N—One of my new songs off my new project is called, "If You Won't Marry Me Right Now". I might get in trouble for it and had to get vulnerable and brave to write it. Maybe it will get me in trouble but I don't care. I think a lot of people can identify with the concept of this song.


C—So I could guess but what exactly is it about?


N—It's straight up about how someone who said they were going to marry me didn't. So I had to figure out how to let go, move on, all while figuring out how to recover.


C—Fuck. Real life. So what's your secret to recovery because you seem in good spirits?


N—Taking off my pants haha. Also time, working out, taking more risks, watching Sopranos, realizing it's OK to feel bad for a while and a lot of sad classical piano playing.


C—Damn, all very helpful. My Co-Star app gave me some advice the other day which said instead of trying to solve your friends pain, let them know that you're there while they hold it. I thought that was annoying and true and valuable. I gotta ask, aren't you glad you're not married? I can't imagine being tied down yet.


N—Yes! I mean that's the value of time—maybe something you think you wanted later on seems fruitless. A bullet was dodged. You said earlier you're not sure you're happy doing what you're doing. What's up with that? Has your perspective on what you thought you wanted changed?


C—Yes since I got to LA 4 years ago I've been going really hard as if all this work might disappear out of thin air. The time moves so quickly here and I'm not sure how awake I am for a lot of it. I want to make an effort to do more living. Maybe sounds corny but shit I want to go camping really bad. And turn my phone off more. My point is: all the work for what? If I'm not also taking time to enjoy life and play.


N—As you spend more time living you realize what's actually valuable.


C—Where do you see yourself as an old lady? We all need to visualize this inevitable future more often.


N—I see myself living it Ravello, Italy giving voice lessons and doing a couple shows a year.


C—Nailed it.


N—What about you?


C—Hell ya.. honestly not too far off—maybe we can be neighbors.

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