Niki Darling aka Nicole Leidinger has just released her brand-new video along with DJ Ryan Sky titled “Done.” The single is high energy, explosive and creative, featuring her superior vocals as well as her spectacular dance.
Singing since the moment she could take a breath, Niki graduated from The Performing Arts High School in New York where she studied vocal music and theater. Part of a six-piece pop/rock/hip hop band called Pants Velour, she performed at Webster Hall, Bowery Poetry Club, North Star Bar Philly and many other venues.
Her sexy rock star appearance as well as her powerful voice and ability to light up the stage make her and her team an irresistible treasure to New York nightlife.
How long have you been singing?
I’ve been singing my whole life. I came out of the womb hitting my first note. [laughs]
When did you actually start performing?
Well, I first started performing in the glee club in junior high, which is when my chorus teacher suggested I audition for The Professional Performing Arts High School in NYC. During that time I was in a girl group with my sister. We worked on music for a while, but then I started doing my own thing for a few years. Around that time is when I first met Anthony Gibson, and we began working on “Niki Darling,” the solo project. Anthony and I started to work with producer Jordan Battiste and songwriter Syndey Bertley, and then a few years later Jordan introduced me to a band he played keys in called Pants Velour, which I soon joined and have been with ever sense. Anthony started working with Ryan a little over a year ago. He kept telling me about him, and that we should collaborate. He introduced us a few months back, and we hit it off immediately.
The video that you have out, “Done” – is that your newest video?
Yes. We released the video in January, and it’s now on Vevo!
Do you have plans to do an album?
Ryan, Anthony and I are working on new music now to follow up “Done,” but I have an album out with Pants Velour called “Quest for the 7 Jones.”
You’re a professional dancer?
No, I am not a “professional,” but I’ve had training and love to incorporate it into my performance.
What is it that you enjoy most about performing?
I actually like all the behind-the-scenes stuff preparing for the show. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun, because I have a great team. All the rehearsing, the planning and then comes the execution. It’s amazing!
I watched you perform, and it looked like you had a lot of fun on stage too.
Yeah, I have a great team of choreographers and dancers. Shout out to Darius Russell and Frida Linnea Persson who work with Anthony on the staging and choreo.
What’s it like working with Ryan Skyy?
Oh, it’s great working with Ryan. The other day I said he was the male version of me. We get along really well. Sometimes we’re like thinking each other’s thoughts. I’ve known him a short period of time, but we always get each other musically and have grown to become friends.
If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and why?
Prince. I don’t think I need to say why. C’mon, it’s Prince!
Besides Prince, who else influenced you musically?
I love Janet Jackson. She’s a big influence of mine as well. Whitney Houston and a lot of ‘90s music, that’s when I was like really growing up and getting into music. Rock bands like Nirvana and No Doubt and Green Day, all those ‘90s rock bands influenced me as well.
If you could choose two celebrities to be your parents, who would they be?
Prince, and…can I have a mom and a stepmom?
My main mom would be Janet Jackson, and my stepmom Whitney Houston.
Great parents you’ve chosen. When you wake up in the morning and have your coffee, what inspires you to get out of bed and begin your day?
Well, music obviously, and the love for it and knowing that the next musical opportunity is just around the corner. A passion of mine is exercise and health. I love to exercise. I love to meditate. I like to start my day with some kind of workout, and I just try to stay very healthy. I’ve been a vegetarian on and off for over 10 years. I like the healthy lifestyle and just life in general. I’m a native New Yorker. I grew up here, but every day there’s always new things about New York I’m finding out about: shows, different restaurants, places to go. It’s an amazing place to live in. There’s a lot of amazing people here, talented as well.
Can you recall a funny or embarrassing moment on stage?
Oh, gosh. Last night… [laughs]
Honey Davenport was hosting at The Monster and invited us to come perform “Done,” because Ryan was DJing for Manster. Well, during the end of the first verse there’s a part where me and two dancers go down to the floor, and I had my arm out that was holding my mic. One of the dancers hits my arm and the mic flies out of my hand! Luckily it happened at a moment there was a musical break. So he grabs the mic to give it back to me, but at that moment I was gagging on the inside. It was funny.
So what do you do for fun?
I love live music. I have so many talented dancer friends and musicians on the scene, so I like going to see shows, whether it’s a Broadway show or a small lounge in the Village. One of my dancers is a Zumba instructor, so I like taking Zumba classes with my friends, and we’ll go for drinks after. I’m a big wine drinker. I love, love, love wine. I’m always finding new wine bars in the city.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself married, hopefully with a fabulous husband, touring and traveling the world with me doing something behind the scenes. I see myself working with the same team, traveling the world performing and splitting my downtime between New York, LA and London.
So you’re on “American Idol,” and you can sing one song. What will it be?
I’d sing my new single “Done,” of course!
Good choice. Who wrote “Done”?
We all wrote it together: myself, Anthony Gibson and Ryan Skyy.
The story of your life has just hit the headlines. What’s the title?
Do you believe in love at first sight?
Oh, yes, definitely.
And what’s your favorite quality about yourself?
I’m very outgoing.
If there was a soundtrack to your life, what songs would be on it?
Definitely “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince, “New York, Empire State of Mind,” “I’m Just a Girl” by No Doubt, “That’s the Way Love Goes” by Janet Jackson, “All In” by Pants Velour, “Done” by Ryan Skyy featuring me!
Have you ever met Prince?
I haven’t yet, but I’ve seen him in concert.
Tell me one thing about yourself that you’d want me to know.
That as a person, as a performer, as a singer, I want people to connect with my music. I hope that I can touch them and that they can relate to it, and that it helps them in their lives somehow. Music inspires me every day, and I hope that it can inspire people the same way artists like Prince and Janet Jackson have inspired me. There’s not a lot of positive role models for young people to look up to, nowadays especially. Everyone’s getting plastic surgery like you have to change yourself. The younger generation shouldn’t have to think that they have to change the way they are. They should know that they are beautiful just the way they are, from inside out.