If you’re meeting singer-songwriter NDAI for the first time through social media, clicking on her handle will instantly teleport you to a mosaic of enchanting self-portraits coated with a layer of mystery. It’s not until you scroll and expand the captions that you get to peek into a little of what NDAI is all about.
“It’s a struggle,” NDAI says about what it’s like disclosing some of her personal experiences on social media. Her candidness is the result of seeing the stories of other influencers on social media and finding that despite displaying a lot of highlights in their lives, they are also relatable. NDAI says she hopes she can do the same for her own following.
“It’s nice to know you’re not alone,” NDAI says.
On her Instagram, there’s an elegant photo of NDAI poised with a bold ruby lip, wearing only a pink fur coat. She uses the photo as a bridge to speak about her relationship with her body. The caption tells the story of how at a young age NDAI’s body matured faster than the attitudes of her school system. She felt that a double standard had been enforced on young girls and how they were expected to present themselves based on their body shape. For example, two girls may be wearing the same shirt, but based on each of their body types, one may be required to cover up because her body is considered more mature. She goes on to describe how those toxic ideals follow young women into adulthood. In another photo NDAI is staring directly at you, her eyes full of expression and her natural curls falling in small ringlets at the sides of her face. The post speaks to her connection with her mother and how she was raised to love her mixed Indigenous, Italian-Canadian and Guyanese-Canadian heritage and embrace all the quirks that made her who she is.
“I think our generation is a bit more comfortable talking about [our experiences] partially because we’ve seen what not talking has created and what that does . . . They want to be more open with their kids, more honest with themselves and I think that’s all tied to the self-love movement where people are doing a lot of inward work to be the best version of themselves which is really exciting.”
“I think our generation is a bit more comfortable talking about [our experiences] partially because we’ve seen what not talking has created and what that does.”
It was through her inward work that NDAI began to really come into her own skin and pursue her passion of creating music. With the soothing voice of a lullaby, NDAI casts a spell on listeners in almost an instant. The rhythm of her music oscillates between ethereal on “Time Heals All Wounds” and the nostalgic feel of the early ’00s on “Nobody’s Ting”. Her words play on reflection of self, past love experiences and the discovery of independence. With over 50K plays on Spotify, NDAI is a diamond in the rough. However, it’s her sincerity with herself and her art that truly makes her shine.
Before she began singing professionally NDAI devoted much of her time to her love of make-up, a hobby that quickly became a way for her to make a living.
“Make-up artistry, I kind of tumbled into it. I was always naturally good at art . . . My skills weren’t always the greatest, but they were good for that age compared to what other people could do.”
For four years, she worked on building a network through make-up, freelancing and filming tutorials for her YouTube channel. Around the time her make-up career was beginning to blossom, NDAI gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.
“Having him completely changed my life . . . It challenges who you are and once you become a mother you’re immediately kind of categorized and looked at a certain way.”
NDAI felt a backlash. She found that the people in her life were indirectly condemning her decision to work in the creative industry because she was a mother. For her it was as though the words “When are you going to get a real job?” taunted her in everyday conversation. The pressure failed to deter her. Though she had known music to be her passion since she was four years old, it took this crucial period of self-reflection for her to go after the life she had always envisioned for herself.
“I think there’s things that happen in everyone’s life that help move you a step closer to the realization of yourself like what your purpose is, why you are here and what gifts you have to offer.”
During the first four years of motherhood NDAI came to understand who she was, what she wanted to say and why it was important. She also began to realize as a make-up artist she was investing a lot of her time into the talents of others and pushing them forward instead of herself. It didn’t take long before she resolved to invest that energy into her own passions.
“It was fun and gave me a lot of experience, but I just still felt like I was selling myself short,” she says. “Like all this stuff that I was doing for other people I could do for myself. I owe it to myself. I took a step back from all the things I was doing and was like I just got to focus on making my music because it’s just time.”
NDAI has commanded the attention of a growing audience with her first two singles “Time Heals All Wounds” (T.H.A.W), which marked her debut earlier this year, and “Nobody’s Ting”. She spent two years prior to her debut studying music structure, listening to melodies and improving her writing skills to fearlessly put out music that encapsulates who she is as an artist.
“I don’t even care if people like it, I was happy with it . . . I think there’s things that happen in everyone’s life that help move you a step closer to the realization of yourself like what your purpose is, why you are here and what gifts you have to offer. […] I feel like a weight’s been lifted off my shoulder. I’ve been waiting to do this for so long and finally it’s happening.
Photos supplied by NDAI