Published: 27 September, 2012
by ROISIN GADELRAB
SINGER Ny is a true Camden girl. Born in UCLH, and brought up in Kentish Town, she is close friends with Tulisa and bonded with Plan B in Chalk Farm. Ny took her early musical steps at a Talacre play centre, spurred on by youth worker Franklin Byam, who was murdered in 2001.
“Even before I really said to my parents that I wanted to do music, he [Franklin] constantly encouraged me to sing and I’d always sing at the playcentre,” says Ny. “He was a DJ at a pirate radio station so I’d do jingles and send them to the radio and he’d play them. You know when you hear something back and you’re so young as well, it’s so exciting to hear your stuff on the radio.”
Encouraged by Franklin, Ny began to enter talent shows.
She says: “In 2001 he got murdered and that was the driving force because we promised each other. He was the one that was like, ‘you’ve got to do this’, he was always pushing me to sing and do more and practise, so I’ve always got him in the back of my mind.”
Just a few days on from playing at the Queen’s Crescent Carnival, Ny launches her debut album Who Is She – a fusion of dubstep, soul and reggae – at Proud Camden on October 12, having taken a completely hands-on approach to every aspect of her work from an early age, as well as writing her own material.
Ny was taught at home before later attending Parliament Hill School.
She says: “My mum was really quite strict, she felt at the time the education system, having loads of kids in the classroom system, wasn’t really ideal, so she took it upon herself to teach me and my sisters at home. We weren’t allowed to watch TV. She was very much like, you have to have your own imagination to read and be creative, and she’d take us to galleries.
“We’d go to demonstrations about building a motorway through a forest, we’d be going there to protest against that kind of thing, and that was just normal for us. When I did go to school I got bullied and I just hated it. And then I guess, as you go to secondary school, you just have to get on with it and I just really turned to music as a way of therapy, a way of just expressing myself.”
Aside from listening to Mariah Carey albums to train her voice, Ny would find more imaginative ways to develop her love for music.
She says: “When I really despised school I booked myself into out-of-school classes in the Roundhouse or Tribal Tree and just lied and said I was older. I got to do workshops with people that love music, whether it was songwriting or percussion and that really gave me my first step into it.”
Ny’s stage break came at the age of 13 when she was helping under-18 music charity Bigga Fish backstage at The Forum in Kentish Town.
She says: “There were technical problems so I ran onstage and sang Mariah Carey’s Hero a capella, and that was like my first performance.”
Some time later Ny heard talk of another girl equally known in the area for her singing skills – Tulisa.
Ny says: “She just randomly called me one day and said, ‘I got your number off a mutual friend, I know you love animals, I’ve got a dog, where do I get injections?’. So I was like, ‘yeah go here, do that’, and then we just ended up being friends.”
Ny, who recently appeared in Tulisa’s single Young, has just returned from touring with Plan B who she met in Chalk Farm while attending one of her musical workshops:
She adds: “We met in Tribal Tree doing workshops for young people. I was about 14 at the time, he’s a couple of years older than me. I loved that he could play guitar and sing, and he loved that I could sing, and we’ve literally been really good friends since then.”
• Album Who Is She is available on pre-order now and is out on October 14.