Weekly updates:


Acclaim Digital Cover 033: Nia Archives

UK artist Nia Archives brings her unique blend of Jungle to the forefront. Her debut album Silence is Loud tells a 20-something’s story of love and life set to quick-ticking breakbeats and introspective lyrics.

Posted by

 ***This page is meant for mobile viewing only, if you are on Desktop we recommend viewing the article here***

According to Nia Archives, you’re one of two people: Someone who showers with music and someone who doesn’t.

“I was having a debate with my friend recently,” she says on a particularly early weekday morning, “because she said that she doesn’t shower with music on and I was like, ‘what?’ Because I always shower with my phone and not everybody does that. It’s like, ‘Oh, interesting’.”

Talking to the Bradford-born, Leeds-raised artist is like talking to a girl’s girl on a particularly debaucherous (yet equally as wholesome) night in the club bathroom. She’s warm, friendly and doesn’t seem to take herself too seriously. In one part, you could put that down to the communal nature of the habitat she’s been frequenting over the last few years – the dirty depths of the club – or maybe it’s her soft Yorkshire-lilt or maybe it’s just her nature. Whatever it may be, it makes sense for someone who’s artistry revolves around shared spaces where humans revert to animalistic and emotional instinct (aka dancing), and who makes music that is equally as heart wrenching and thoughtful as it is heart pumping.

For the last two years Nia Archives has been taking her brand of Jungle and with it winning awards (of which 2022’s NME Award for Best Producer has been a career highlight. “I literally cried for like a week after that,” she says), touring continents and balancing on the precipice of fame. You’d also be remiss not to mention that she also supported Beyonce on her recent Renaissance tour. She’s also just released her debut album Silence is Loud.

“I’m super excited,” she says in our interview scheduled a week before its release, “I’m looking forward to people hearing the music as a body of work because I feel like it will make a little bit more sense.”

She seems to be referring to the understanding that her brand of Jungle is comparatively unorthodox to the one that took form across London in the anarchic electronic rave days of the 90s and which grew organically from the British-Caribbean masses that favoured dub and reggae. It was a time that Archives didn’t grow up in yet draws inspiration from, with DJs like Goldie, Roni Size and Shy FX sitting atop her influences. Once described as the “emotional junglist”, Nia’s music strays into territory where the dopamine hit of the club meets sad-girl bed-rot.

While Jungle was heard throughout her childhood with her earliest memories of it surrounding Bradford Carnival, it wasn’t until her teen years that “I kind of went into the rabbit hole,” she says. The genesis of this sound began after moving from home at the age of 16 and saving up enough money working at KFC to enrol in a music production course where she scored a twelve-month mentorship in DJ Flight’s EQ50 initiative. At 18, her idiosyncratic sound really came to fruition, and then in 2020, she released a song called ‘Sober Feels’ which would cement it.

“I always wanted to make music that people could dance to,” she explains, “But my lyrics were quite deep and I didn’t really like making sad music. It’s just not really my vibe. I didn’t want it to be like, “Oh my god, this is such a sad tune, turn it off”. I’ve always loved the chaos of Jungle, and then you’ve got these melancholy, sad lyrics. That’s always how I like to express myself in music.”

On Silence is Loud that sound manifests in its entirety in a 20-something’s story of love (or lack of it), life and family. Over quick ticking breakbeats, Archives sings lyrics like You only kiss me late at night…I have a feeling you have unfinished business somewhere else on “Unfinished Business” and Why am I addicted to love restricted/ my trauma depicted on “Blind Devotion”. They’re songs made for the club but also for deep introspection and being alone.

“That’s what I wanted to do with the album,” she says, “because I personally love listening to songs when I’m out walking, or if I’m in a car or literally at home. And obviously Jungle is club-focused music, but I wanted to make an album that could exist in different places and cater to different moods.”

An example of that duality can be seen on the albums introductory track “Silence is Loud” but also its augmented sister, “Silence is Loud (Reprise)”.

While the first meets us with distorted screaming and piercing laser-like samples, the second is almost wholly piano-backed with Archives vocals soft and simple.

“That was actually Ethan’s idea,” she says.

Ethan P. Flynn, described as a musical polymath, moves in much the same way as Nia Archives. His songs are experimental, sometimes upbeat but instilled with chest-swelling emotion. He also collaborated with Nia Archives across this album.

According to Archives, this is the first time she’s actually had a structured writing process, whereas usually, like patchwork, she’d start with buzzwords and work backwards. This time, she’d write in the morning and before bed, record a voice note, and take it to Ethan’s flat overlooking the Barbican estate in London. Now known as a successful producer, it was important for her to shine as a songwriter, and with Flynn’s help, that came to fruition. His input ensured two versions of the title track.

“That was the last thing we did,” she says. And my favourite albums have that stripped-back version. Roni Size has it on his New Form album. I was like, ‘Oh, it sounds like a good idea,’ but I was also scared to sing without drums. So it’s the first time my voice is quite vulnerable, and you can actually hear me singing, which is quite intense.”

The voice notes heard in the song come from her little brother, her friends, and her friends’ parents at New Year’s celebrations and Birthdays.

“It almost sounds like a home movie,” I say.

“Definitely,” she says, “That’s the vibe I was going for. It’s kind of like the soundtrack to the last year of my life. I’m glad it gave you that, to be fair.”

Made from an incredibly personal place, the album tells stories of troubles with family, the dichotomy of loneliness in a club, and unrequited love. Yet one song is an anomaly, and it’s also her favourite (for right now), ‘Cards On The Table’.

“I wrote it about someone I met in Dublin last year,” she says, “And the kind of whirlwind of that meeting. It was a nice little stamp on my life last year. I never really write love songs [laughs], so it’s definitely the odd one out. But yeah, such a happy song.”

And while this album does have a bias tilt towards Jungle (as it should), being boxed in or pigeonholed into one genre isn’t something that Archives worries about upon release. After all, Jungle is a sub-genre of breakbeat, which means that the possibilities are endless. She does, however, admit that it may inhibit her in the mainstream (which, personally, I think is up for debate) but being touted as a mainstream artist isn’t something that necessarily worries her anyway.

“That’s not something that I really have ever been interested in,” she says, “I won’t, you know, be on Billboard 100 or something like that, because my music is quite underground, quite niche. But I wouldn’t really want that if it meant trading in something that I love. And I do love making jungle music.”

That means she doesn’t see herself trading in her decks for a bit of a pop star moment and singing straight into a mic anytime soon.

“Maybe in the future,” she says, “but definitely not in the immediate future. I feel like I always get asked when I’m going to do a band but I feel like I’ve got a few years of rave in me.

 Follow Nia Archives here for more and stream the debut album Silence is Loud here.

Weekly updates