Nikki – the self-described “synthpop bitchface” vixen blonde behind the UK project Dolls is definitely brave! Once signed on a big label in Canada and moving her way up to the Top 40, she decided to turn her back to commercial pop music and launch her own badass alternative project in London. But the decision turned out great! Dolls’ music got nice following, while one of her songs was featured in Rimmel’ ad alongside Georgia Jagger glossing her lips! How good is that! Moreover, her song “Limited Ltd” was just included in Swedish label Substream’s new synthpop compilation, featuring also artists like Sin Cos Tan, Hot Casandra and Boy Eats Drum Machine. Nikki also produces and shoots her own videos, which is even more badass. The video for “Limited Ltd” laments “a limited love affair in black and white psychedelic Rorshach-style video”. See for yourself:
Check out this super fresh interview with Nikki a.k.a Dolls, right after she won Flowers In A Gun’s Band Of The Week contest! What does “Synthpop bitchface” stands for?
There was a picture taken of me while I was performing and I had the most sour, disgusted expression on my face. I have no idea how it came about or why it was appearing onstage, so naturally I came to the conclusion that it must be my permanent expression. Kind of like “bitchy resting face,” but with more intent. The term covered a lot of ground with very few characters in my Instagram bio, but probably lacks context outside my own head. Look, we just made history; someone ping it up on Wikipedia. Tell me something more about your album “Secret Sulk”?
Releasing Secret Sulk was a bit of an unorthodox move, since it’s not really a properly produced album. After moving to London and beginning to learn production basics, I found myself with literally hundreds of songs clogging up my computer. I didn’t even have a keyboard or a microphone; I used to tap out the tracks using GarageBand’s ‘musical typing.’ By the time I got some proper gear and upgraded to Logic, my computer was slooooow, so I thought I was being terribly clever by moving all my music files to a single external drive. When that crashed and I lost all my masters, it was almost exactly two years on from having lost the previous two years’ worth of work to the management and production team for The Royal Society, so I said “fuck it,” and decided to release the tracks as they were, horrifically flawed and very un-glossy compared to what I’d been making before. It was probably more of a catharsis for me (and significantly cheaper than therapy) than anything I expected to have any commercial success with. Initially I thought I’d just give it away and see if anyone wanted it but people kept asking me why it wasn’t on iTunes or anything, so I just kind of threw it out there and people liked it. Why did you decide to ditch the commercial pop scene and go more underground?
I don’t think I was a good artist for the “major label machine,” especially not in Canada. I found it to be very “let’s play it safe, let’s do what’s already been done before.” I love my Canadian fans and all of the amazing broadcasters who still play my music, but I wanted to be less “safe,” and really wanted sole control over my project – those options weren’t on offer to me, so I bailed. Doing things my own way (which was totally not ‘safe’ and frequently outside-the-box) meant that whether I succeeded or bombed, the result would be something I earned, not seen as something that just “got the green light.”
How did your track ended up at the Rimmel advertisement?
I seriously still have no idea. I like to think it’s because Georgia Jagger lip-synchs to my tracks into her hairbrush.
What’s the make-up that would describe you best?
Black liquid liner and red/hot pink lips, usually with more blush than is appropriate for daytime wear. Think blow-up doll.
Do you have a singer/band that’s your guilty pleasure and no one would you guess you listen to it?
SO many. I listen to loads of stuff…. But the most embarrassing thing on my iTunes is probably that 90% of the tracks are my own (because of bouncing them from Logic). I have a lot of En Vogue and Britney Spears, but I feel like that’s not really ‘shame-making’. I know all the words to Avril Lavigne’s “LET GO” album, though. That’s pretty dreadful
What are you working on right now?
I have some collaborations with artists in the UK and abroad I’m excited about – very different styles of music for me – and I’ve been working on melting different styles of music together which you wouldn’t ordinarily think would work…. With delicious consequences!
Any upcoming shows?
Have some appearances coming up but they’ll be in very dark, filthy places. Find me on Twitter or Facebook and you’ll be the first to know.