Words by Jesse Serwer, Photos by Gary James—
Remember Brick & Lace? Kingston-raised, Miami-based sisters Nyla (formerly Nailah) and Nyanda Thorbourne broke out in 2007 with “Love is Wicked,” a pop/reggae/R&B hit on the Diwali riddim, and went on to drop an album of the same name on Akon’s Kon Live label that same year.
With Brick & Lace on hiatus, Nyla (who along with Nyanda and her sisters Tasha and Candace has also written hits for J. Lo and Christina Aguilera) is stepping out with her first solo release—and a new, foolproof spelling of her name. The first release under Ky-mani Marley’s new label, Konfrontation Music, Nyla’s debut single “Stand Up” is a frank, sensual plea to her man to “stand up” in more ways than one—double entendres abound. Musically, the track (produced by Miami’s Corey Chase and Mucka Hill) straddles the line between reggae, R&B and pop, previewing the diversity to come on her upcoming debut EP while showcasing Nyla’s impressive vocal range. Stream “Stand Up” below, then check out a brief Q+A—and some smoldering pics—with the sexy siren below.
LargeUp: Now that you’re doing your own thing, what are you influenced by?
Nyla: I’m totally in love with the Major Lazer sound. I’m loving the new roots sound coming out of Jamaica, with Chronixx and Protoje. I love Skrillex and that fresh, dubstep/electronic sound that’s coming out also. I’m feeling that fusion. I love how it’s making reggae evolve. I’m also in love with Miguel’s R&B/pop vibe.
LU: Is Brick & Lace still a group?
Nyla: We’re on a hiatus right now. Nyanda’s doing her thing. We could come back and do an album in the future, but right now I’m trying to find my sound and grow individually as a solo artist. That’s where we are right now in our lives. We were in a group for so long, it just felt like the right time.
LU: What did you learn working with Akon, and being on a major label like Geffen?
Nyla: We were the first artists signed on [Akon’s label] KonLive. That was an honor for us. It was a blessing and a curse. It was a good thing to be on Geffen but I learned when there are too many cooks in the kitchen, it tends to spoil the process. It’s harder to move forward. Everybody overthinks until you get nothing. A big obstacle at Geffen was fighting for us to be ourselves. They wanted us to be so many things other than who we really are. We had to fight to be who we are as artists, to be Jamaican. They signed us on that basis, but they didn’t want to put us out on that basis.