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NIKI: Tiny Desk Concert

NPR Music's Tiny Desk is celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. These artists represent just a sliver of the cultural diversity that exists within the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.

NIKI, a.k.a. Nicole Zefanya, took a circuitous route to the Tiny Desk. Born in Jakarta, she scored a major opportunity by winning a competition at 15 to open for Taylor Swift when her Red Tour took her to Indonesia. After moving to Nashville and building a following as a YouTuber, NIKI released two EPs and an album (Moonchild), then moved to L.A. and landed her song "Every Summertime" on the soundtrack to the Marvel blockbuster Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: The Album. Our own Bobby Carter heard that track and fell in love, and soon enough, NIKI and her band were breaking in the latest instrument in our in-house Tiny Desk collection: a light-blue toy piano.

That li'l piano figures prominently in "Backburner," the song that opens NIKI's Tiny Desk debut, but these songs also reflect a more serious side. "The Apartment We Won't Share," which the singer says "sort of laments the loss of an unlived life with somebody," recalls the weightier reflections of Taylor Swift, while "Before" tells the specific-but-relatable story of a long-distance love that falls apart before it can get fun. But NIKI closes her set on a breezy note, as she and her band swim in sleekly soulful, '70s-singer-songwriter vibes throughout "Every Summertime." The story of a love that grows and evolves with each passing summer, it had Bobby and the rest of us swaying, swooning and swimming in high hopes for the weeks and months to come.

SET LIST

  • "Backburner"
  • "The Apartment We Won't Share"
  • "Before"
  • "Every Summertime"
  • MUSICIANS

  • NIKI: vocals, piano, guitar
  • Jacob Ray: percussion, effects, guitar, vocals, music director
  • Kim Vi: keys, guitar, vocals
  • Edison Lo: bass, vocals
  • Fer Fuentes: drums
  • Andrea Ferrero: guitar, toy piano, vocals
  • Desiree Hazley: violin, vocals
  • TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Director/Editor: Maia Stern
  • Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin 
  • Creative Director: Bob Boilen
  • ​​Videographers: Maia Stern, Joshua Bryant, Sofia Seidel, Alanté Serene
  • Audio Assistant: Hannah Gluvna
  • Photographer: Elizabeth Gillis
  • Tiny Desk Team: Suraya Mohamed, Kara Frame, Hazel Cills, Ashley Pointer
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins
  • Senior VP, Programming: Anya Grundmann
  • Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

    Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)

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