Nina Sky’s career seemed like it was coming to a halt when their sophomore album was repeatedly delayed. But the twins—who graced the charts six years ago with their omnipresent hit “Move Ya Body”—decided to take matters into their own hands. After a public break-up with Universal Records in 2007, and a heated rant earlier this year regarding Polo Grounds Music’s lackadaisical attitude toward their album Starting Today, Natalie and Nicole continued to create music.
Even after a demo they recorded with Bruno Mars’ production team, The Smeezingtons, ended up in the hands of “Impossible” singer Shontelle unbeknownst to them, the sisters remained undaunted and treaded forward with their first EP, The Other Side. The 9-track offering fuses house, freestyle, pop, and R&B for a collection that transcends the Queens neighborhood in which they were raised.
A week following their EP release, the girls take a breather from digital promotion to answer Rap-Up.com’s 10 questions. Nina Sky tackles everything from losing their record to Shontelle to side endeavors and even putting their label exec on blast.
1. What was different about recording the EP versus your debut album?
Natalie: This time around we wrote everything. I mean we write everything that we’ve worked on, but we picked the producers. It was really about what we wanted to do. It wasn’t all the label stuff and everyone else telling us what music to make or influencing our sound. It was organic. It was us with cool friends that are actual producers, vibing out.
2. What were the highlights of the recording process?
Natalie: Every time we finished a song it was like, “Wow, we are one step closer to releasing a project.” It felt great. The most excited I’m going to feel is when everyone hears every song.
Nicole: Up until the last song we mixed—a cover that we did of The Cure’s “Lovesong”—that was when I was most excited. This is the final song, it’s done. The tracklisting is done. The artwork is done and we can actually release it.
3. “Only You” was produced by Double O from Kidz in the Hall, whose other half Naledge raps on the track. Have you always wanted to work with them?
Nicole: We’ve known them for a minute and we talked about it so many times. Everyone’s busy and schedules are different, but we finally got in the studio. We love the way the song turned out.
Natalie: It had to happen! Double O sent us some beats a while ago and I ended up writing a song [to one of them] and we never recorded it. So every time we ran into each other we would be like, “When are we getting in the studio?” This time we were like, “Double O, let’s get in and work on some stuff.” It turned out really great.
4. The EP is definitely influenced by freestyle music. What are your favorite freestyle tracks?
Natalie: “I Wonder If I Take You Home” by Lisa Lisa. I love that song. It reminds me of being young and hanging out with my friends. We used to listen to mad freestyle music.
Nicole: I think mine would be “Let the Beat Hit ‘Em” by Lisa Lisa because it’s a freestyle song with more of a house feel. My mom used to play Lisa Lisa so much when we were growing up.
5. You used Twitter to vent about your label frustrations. Why did you decide to give out Polo Grounds Music President Bryan Leach’s phone number?
Natalie: People think we did it to be spiteful. The reason that we initially decided to do it was to let him hear from our fans. It was important for us to show him that people are waiting for [our album]. We didn’t think he understood that. People sent heartfelt emails saying, “Yo, we want to hear that album.” That’s all we wanted.
Nicole: We had numerous meetings about [our sophomore album release]. When the project was done and it finally came time to put out an official single, our label president was unreachable. We couldn’t get a meeting or have a phone call. That kind of bothered us because we spent so much time—six years—recording all this music. Everyone asked us all the time, “When’s your project coming out?” We can’t just keep lying, “Oh, it’s coming soon!” The truth was we didn’t have an answer. So you want that answer? Hit up Bryan Leach. He has the answer.
6. Speaking of your fans, are there any encounters that stand out?
Natalie: A lot of fans have our lyrics tattooed on them, which I think is cool. I don’t think it’s scary or crazy.
Nicole: When we see people that were at our first show in 2004, when we were performing at a club called Bliss in Queens, [now] coming to a show this year that we did in New York City, still supporting, still singing our songs, still loving our songs—that’s cool.
7. Natalie, it’s been two years since you teamed up with the clothing line MadeMe for a series of T-shirts with your graffiti art on them. Are you going to continue doing fashion collabos?
We’re actually in the process of designing a T-shirt for a 21-city tour that we’re going on. I am dabbling more into fashion designing. If the opportunity came along again, I would definitely go for it. But for right now, we’re collaborating with MadeMe again on some T-shirts and some other fun goodies for our fans. So everyone can look out for that.
8. Nicole, you DJ worldwide as Ni** Sky. Is there a set that always makes the crowd go crazy?
When I used to DJ high school parties, I had this one set that went from In Essence’s “You Will Never Find” to Jay-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me).” Then into a whole set of AV8 and Crooklyn Clan records, and this is when I used to DJ with vinyl. I would carry the crates and play that set all the time. Still to this day, when I DJ in clubs all over the world, I play that same set and it always works. The one hip-hop set that I play forever, since I was 16.
9. At your show at S.O.B.s in New York City last September, you premiered a song called “DJ Made Me Do It.” Months later, it was given to Shontelle for her new album No Gravity. What happened?
Nicole: We didn’t write the record. The record was written by the Jackie Boyz, Bruno Mars, and Phil Lawrence. We were in the studio vibing together. We just wanted to do something fun with a house feel, and that’s the song that came out. We love the record, it’s dope. I scratched on the record. Unfortunately, in this business you just have to accept that if something isn’t paid for, it doesn’t belong to us. We had a connection with that record because we felt it fit Nina Sky’s vibe. Shontelle has the record, which is cool, and definitely my scratches are on it, which is cool. Bruno, Phil, and the Jackie Boyz are very talented and Shontelle is doing her thing. It’s all good. No bad air about that record at all.
Natalie: [Shontelle] got a great record.
10. Natalie, what is Nicole better at than you?
Nicole is definitely the talker. Nicole is on her toes all the time. She knows how to answer certain things quickly. There are many things that she is good at that I’m not. And things that I’m good at that she’s not. We definitely need each other for lots of things.
Nina Sky’s digital EP The Other Side is available now for free. Click here to download.