Nikka Costa has wandered in and out of the mainstream for years, with songs such as Like a Feather and Everybodys Got Their Something. After a stormy relationship with Virgin Records dissolved in 2004, Costa went off on her own. This fall, after a four-year hiatus, she released a new studio album, Pebble to a Pearl, under her own Go Funk Yourself label.
Costas blend of funk, soul, blues and rock will grace tonights Out 100 party. We asked the refreshingly honest singer about what its like to come in from the cold, whether she and Amy Winehouse are soul sisters, and what she thinks of Californias Proposition 8.
Out: Youve been gone for four years. Where have you been?
Nikka Costa: Id gotten off my major label and wanted to get back to the music I loved as a teenager -- Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan, Etta James. I wanted to get back to the joy of making music. Ive had four different presidents in the time I was at my old label. It was frustrating and soul destroying. It was like being on a sinking ship. We know the industrys really changing, and Im happy to be on my own now. What else? I had a baby. I played some gigs in L.A -- just trying to clear my head, you know?
It seems like every interview Ive read with you has someone asking, Why are you not a bigger star? Its a sort of backhanded compliment.
I dont even know how to respond to the Why arent you bigger? question. Whatever. I want to sell records, obviously, but I think my career is the thing that it is. There are enough musicians and producers out there making that kind of music and it doesnt interest me. All those songs are interchangeable. Im not into music to be famous. Im into capturing an experience and sharing it. Its a longer road, maybe, but its the one Im on.
And now youve released your first new album, on your own label. How would you describe it?
It comes from a soulful place. It comes from a place of passion. I definitely wanted to do a soul record. Theres a bit of rock, too, though not so raw and gritty as some of my old stuff. Im really comfortable with mixing styles.
It seemed to have a lot of hip-hop influence. Are you a fan? Who do you listen to?
Oh, definitely. When I was younger, especially. I like Public Enemy, Run DMC, Jay-Z. I really love Kanye West.
It seems like there are a lot of neo-soul folks out there now, like Robin Thicke and Amy Winehouse. Do you think theres any chance of a neo-soul Lollapalooza?
Ive written with Robin Thicke. Im not sure its a movement. The collective conscious of the world is starting to feel like it needs this music. It needs to get out there and it needs to be heard -- and then it wont be seen just as this niche thing anymore. I dont think we all have to be under one umbrella for it to be felt.
What do you think of Californias Proposition 8?
I think its retarded. People should be able to do what they want. Its infuriating to me. Who cares? Let people love each other. Its just some religious bullshit masked as government.