When it comes to working in Japan as a foreigner, one very popular track is teaching English. J’Nique Nicole, however, came to Japan specifically to sing. J’Nique is a Nashville native with a well-established track record so far. She has gone on tour as a backup vocalist for well-known Japanese artists like Ai, Toshinobu Kubota and Nao Yoshioka. She also wrote and sang the theme song [Weight of the World] for a Square Enix video game called, NieR: Automata, last year.
As one of her biggest fans and actual friend, I just had to have her as our next Creative on this blog. So I reached out to J’Nique and she graciously agreed to do an interview. So without further delay, please enjoy the interview I had with J’Nique Nicole.
How long have you been in the music game and how did you get started in the first place?
I've been in the music game for a little over 4 years now. I got my start because my parents had already been in it for quite some time and I expressed interest in it since childhood. The deal was after I finished college, I could come and try my luck at it. So not too long after graduation I came here and did just that. It was hard at first even with my parents' connections because I still had to do a lot of auditioning, proving myself and paying dues in order to get to where I am now. My mom would take me on her gigs sometimes and let me sing a song, sometimes she would make me sing in random places for agents or other musicians, and sometimes I would even do gigs for free in order to show people that I had what it takes to be in this industry. It took about 2 years for me to really be taken seriously.
For our readers who have never heard your music, explain your sound in 5 words:
Hmm... that's a tough one. I'd have to say emotional, self-expressive, relatable, inspirational, and sometimes a little ratchet (laughs).
Who were your first musical influences that you can remember?
I'd have to say people like Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Christina Aguilera, SWV, Faith Evans & Mary J. Blige. Very 90's. This was all music that my mother & sister listened to when I was a kid and I just soaked it up.
How long have you been living in Japan?
That's a complicated question (laughs). My father was stationed at Yokota Air Force Base when I was 3 so we lived on base from then to until I was about 12 years old. Then I came back to Japan to live off base in the heart of Tokyo a little over 4 years ago. So altogether about 12 years.
What sparked you to start performing in Japan?
It was always my dream because I witnessed my parents doing it throughout my entire childhood.
What was one of your greatest accomplishments so far as a singer in Japan?
I'd have to say having my own show last December. Don't get me wrong, touring with famous artists and traveling all over Japan is an amazing experience and definitely a huge accomplishment for me as well but there's something about taking your very own vision, something that you created yourself and making it a reality that is so gratifying.
What is one of your most memorable performances?
Definitely my first show. It can only go up from here.
I went to your first solo show and loved it! How did you go about arranging it?
Ever since I first came to Japan, it was always a goal of mine to have my very own show so for many years I kept making it a New Year's resolution but kept having to put it off because I just wasn't ready. But finally I realized that there is no perfect time to do it and the best way to prepare is to just make it happen so I reached out to a really amazing keyboardist that I had worked with previously named Aria Saito, she had a place in mind, we booked a date there, I picked the song list, we had about 2 rehearsals and we just did it lol. I was very nervous but I'm very proud of the way it turned out.
Which artist dead or alive would you love to sing a duet with?
Oh my God! There's like a million of them! Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Chris Brown, Drake, Whitney Houston, Beyoncé, Rihanna...I could go on forever.
Can you tell us about any new projects or ideas you will be working on in the near future?
Well, first off I will have another show on Sunday, March 26th called TIOTB Vol. 2. And I will hopefully be releasing a project by the same name, This Is Only The Beginning, sometime this year.
I know I am excited about her next T.I.O.T.B show. Her first show was great. It was small and cozy with a side of ratchet at the same time. I would have to say, I and some of our mutual friends had something to do with the ratchetness.
||Last year's T.I.O.T.B flyer||
To keep up with J’Nique and her events via social media, check out her links below:
FB || J'Nique Nicole
IG || Jniquenicole
Soundcloud || J'Nique
Also check out the video of her performance for the Square Enix game, NieR: Automata.
Don’t miss this interview she had about her involvement with the game.
Black Creatives in Japan