Music

Niki DeMar Celebrates Ruining Her Life

In this exclusive interview with Hypebae, the emerging punk/pop artist talks about heartbreak, being selfish and her latest EP.

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Reminiscent of Lindsay Lohan circa 2004 to Demi Lovato during her Hollywood Records era, Niki DeMar takes the sounds of angsty, emotional, feminine energies and personalizes them to her own.

Having spent more than a decade on the internet as a YouTuber, there are moments when viewers begin to perceive themselves as integral to your life, believing they can have genuine opinions on your personal decisions. In Niki’s case, public perspectives and critiques have, for a long time, extended to her fashion choices, romantic relationships and even where she chooses to live. Alongside that, when it came to her inner circle, they had an input towards her chosen aspirations.

Getting judged from all corners, she’d often hear the word “selfish” thrown at her. Those close to her would tell her she’s being selfish when going after certain goals or that she already has it all and her choices might ruin her life. Rather than draining her energy and creativity, Niki channeled the criticisms to power her music and lyrics and created what she’s now released as her second EP, “Ruined My Life”.

Keep reading for our exclusive interview with Niki DeMar and find out what drives her musically, lyrically and personally.

A lot of content creators have, for years, released music for either fun or as an attempt at a musical career. With you, it has always seemed like a craving and something you’ve always been serious about. What does music mean to you as an individual?

The glitz and the glam of the industry is not worth it unless I’m doing music.

There was a point in my career where I had the most money possible by vlogging, doing YouTube with my twin sister Gabi, getting invited to cool things, going to Bora Bora and doing things that people dream of and, as ungrateful as this sounds, I wasn’t doing music so I wasn’t happy. I was born with this thing within me and I feel like it’s always been a struggle to actually do it because when you’re hatching a golden egg, how do you walk away from a golden egg? It felt like the Niki & Gabi YouTube channel was the golden egg. The team around us saw it and wanted us to keep at it. From a business aspect, a lot of the people on my team would think “Why would we let her branch out when we’re already cashing out?”

It was a real fight to get here – to find a music team where I could consistently put out music. I really think that journey started at 25-years-old. It’s just a knowing. When I’m not doing it and when I’m not actively writing songs or working on my craft, I feel purposeless and I don’t know why I’m here.

Material things aren’t going to fill you if you’re not in your purpose. I had all these amazing things around me and I didn’t know why I felt so empty. For a while, I gaslit myself and told myself to shut up and be grateful. Once I started doing music, there was a moment where I felt a key in my head unlock something. I’ve struggled more mentally, financially and emotionally since doing music but I will never get off this ride. It is something that’s so fulfilling. I’d rather put money into a music video or project than go on vacation.

What was the first project that gave you the confidence to pursue music?

“Sad Holiday” was my first real single and I put that out because I was so depressed. I couldn’t even get myself to film a normal vlog so I used my money to make a music video and find producers. That was a little discouraging because I didn’t get my normal YouTube views, but that’s when I realized this is therapy and I need to keep doing this because it got me through such a dark time.

When I really realized I got the confidence was when I saw the feedback for “Alone in My Car”. I had never been placed on a Spotify playlist and I got so many playlist spots from that during the pandemic from Teen Beats to New Music Friday, I was on the cover of Fresh Finds, I did a Zach Sang interview and I was amazed that people liked it. I was so happy and grateful and it changed everything for me.

In your recent music video for “Before and After”, you’re wearing the same fit as the one in your earlier single, “Alone in My Car”. What does that symbolism mean to you?

When I wore that outfit in the “Alone in My Car” music video, I was so lost. In the video, you can see that I’m alone, in a car and thinking so much. I was going through the thick of it in that outfit and I wanted to reclaim that version of me and show up for her.

In “Before and After”, I wanted to be in the ocean. Literally cleansing all of that off while in the outfit to remind myself that I’ve made it to the other side. Now I’m looking at the before and after of the relationship and I’m looking at open water with endless possibilities and nothing in sight.

I wanted to see, for myself, me in both music videos side by side. I did that and it makes me feel like I came full circle and I’m okay.

You really stand out lyrically. Does your inspiration come from anywhere in particular?

I basically just ramble in my notes and sometimes they rhyme, sometimes they don’t. I think it’s important to be around co-writers and producers that have the same ear you have. It’s hard to make a good song when everybody listens to different genres.

I’m obviously in my punk/pop era, but I still like the singer-songwriter undertones of artists like Taylor Swift.

In terms of inspiration, it’s those random songs you come across on Spotify. I “heart” songs on Spotify and I keep listening to my “Liked Songs” playlist because it keeps my ideas flowing. I’ll hear a lyric and like how they set the scene and I take a note of it. Just listening to random songs and having a library of randomness on my phone and constantly keeping that door open to discovering new music has really changed the game for me.

You show your ex in the “Love & Misery” music video and two of your lyric videos. Do you get scared or worried about being so open and vulnerable?

YouTube and music is my hobby and passion. I didn’t think about what other people would think when I was creating all of that. I did it all for me. It was me closing a chapter because that relationship was so public, I felt like I had to close it up online. I needed to seal it, tie it up with a bow, say thank you to that relationship. We were smiling in those clips. The relationship had a great phase and it ran its course and it ended, but I don’t hate him. I will always miss him and I’ll probably always love him. However, I know for a fact, we’re not supposed to be together.

We were a huge turning point in each other’s journeys and in our 20s and I think I really held on to him because I had this vision in my head of my Prince Charming and happily ever after and he fit that. He was my first real love and I want my kids to be able to see these and know that relationship and know that journey.

When I saw the comments asking if he’s okay with this, I didn’t think about getting clap back. I didn’t care. I just wanted to put out what I see in my head. Also, he is fine with it. It was me being cathartic with myself.

Are there any tracks that didn’t make it to “Ruined My Life”?

I was writing for this project for over a year while I was in the process of ruining my life.

At first, I thought this was going to be a secondary EP called “Nights Out” about going out and going through heartbreak and that’s how “Pregame” came about. Then I realized that this was just one aspect of what the overall picture is. This isn’t just a party album, there’s heartbreak involved. When you’re going through changes in life, partying is a way to cope but I realized, as I kept living my life, that I’m past that and I’m making crazy changes.

During these changes, you’re going to struggle with your vices, you will want to party and hook up and try to put bandaids on things. You’re going to cry in the morning and miss somebody, you’re going to be uncomfortable and change your life.

There’s a song I have that fans know from the vlogs called “Pill” – it was about my vices and partying. I really struggled with a little bit of an addiction problem last year. While I was going through all those changes, I was on prescribed medication for my ADHD and I realized the pills make me happy. I would tell myself I could take more because I’m prescribed. I started taking it not as one should and it became a problem. I’m off of all that medication now and I scrapped “Pill” because I was uncomfortable. When we had to submit the EP, I was still struggling and didn’t want it to be on there.

I even have a song called “Numb Myself” which also didn’t make it. It all had to do addiction. We didn’t put those on it and instead focused on heartbreak, the changes you make and how people are going to clap back at your decisions but at the end of the day, if you’re choosing yourself, then go ahead and ruin your life.

What is something you learned about yourself after you ruined your life?

I learned this year that I am a good time. I love who I am around other people.

Once I started choosing myself, I felt a weight lifted off. When I used to hang out with my friends, it used to be obvious that I had heavy energy and I felt stuck because of things I was dealing with in private. Now, I feel like I’ve become more present.

I’m in the process of selling my house right now and I don’t know where I’m moving to. I don’t even know if I’ll be in the same city. I don’t know anything, but I’m okay with it and I’m still a good time. I’m a good friend, I take care of them and my family.

It’s funny because I wasn’t called selfish before I “ruined my life” but I think I actually was. Now, people like my ex and relatives have said that I am. It’s crazy because I feel like I’m a better person and I think I’m actually selfless now. I’ve made selfish decisions but I really like the friend I’ve become. I got humbled and realized that if I focus on the future like I used to, I’m going to go crazy because there’s nothing set in stone. I’m an artist in a long distance relationship with no idea of where I want to plant myself. I’m so ungrounded that I realize how to have fun now.

You can stream “Ruined My Life” on all streaming services and check out the music videos on Niki’s YouTube Channel.

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