|Dani Brillhart & Colton Jones (Ni/Co)
Picture was taken by RUNA Creative Co. (@runacreativeco)
Dani Brillhart of Atlanta (GA) and Colton Jones of Kettering (OH) met in Nashville, TN were they instantly connected musically. “We both listened to people like Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Brian McKnight, Destiny’s Child, etc growing up and what all those people have in common is their emotion in their art. We wanted to make music like our ‘greats’ did unapologetically themselves” Ni/Co tells me. It is no wonder that the debut single was a cover of a Marvin Gaye song that was written during the late 60’s which brought violence on the streets between anti-war protestors and police across America. Hearing stories of police attacking these protestors and his own brother’s awful experience in the Vietnam War, Marvin Gaye felt the need to write What’s Going On. The fact that hatred and violence are still present in today’s society is what influenced Ni/Co’s decision to release the single. Colton says, “we also chose to have Dani sing it from a white female’s perspective, knowing this may spark some controversy. The point of this was to put power back into perspective. Every single person feels a need for love in some form or another, and this song is a perfect representation of just that.”
Being around music all of their lives Dani and Colton joke that while they could never compete in athletics, music was where they could make an impression on their schoolmates. Their talents eventually brought them to Nashville in search for some sort of way to make their names known in the music industry, it was here where they found each other and began making their names known as Ni/Co. Growing from local fan support within Nashville, the fan base grew into the southeast, California, and even Denmark. “Crazy enough, our biggest streaming numbers come from our Danish fans!” they tell me. As previously mentioned, their music is driven by emotions and, at times, uncomfortable issues. “We never want to be ingenue and we always want to say something to push just a little out of a comfort zone,” they tell me. However, they are actually inspired by “lots of things. It can be anything from an experience one of us has had with someone else, something we experience together, or honestly just a great idea! (We’re both blessed with those at either 2 am or in the shower always)”. Additionally, their influences inspire how they craft their songs.
The band’s roots are mainly stemming from the Pop genre fused with Hip-Hop, Soul, and R&B. “Our harmonies and melodies we will use will lend themselves to be considered “less pop” sometimes. But at the real center of our production and live show, we are popular music with an R&B lean” they tell me. They’re cover of What’s Going On had that interesting twist of R&B and Pop, while their two original singles (Strangers and Walls Speak) are driven by Pop and (interestingly) Rock sound. But the sound is not what I chose to critique, simply because with only three songs (one being a cover)… I wanted to dive deep into just how “uncomfortable” their lyrics are getting. I guess that’s why I like Strangers so much… In my opinion, this song takes the frustrations of a relationship falling apart and brings the feeling of how it feels to be treated like a stranger. There are also hints of how it feels to be an immigrant in America for some people with lines like “I’m tired of this ignorance” and “I’m hanging from the wire/ you throw me to the fire” jabbing at President Donald Trump. However, these lines may or may not be intentional because they’re strictly my interpretation. Overall, most of Ni/Co singles (other than What’s Going On, which was admittedly a political/social-driven release) seem to be about relationships that are falling apart.
“We want to challenge people. We want to take what we love from our favorite artists and just do it more, do it bigger, do it louder, etc., which is what every older artist strives to leave behind for us younger generations. We want to let people experience a whole journey with us and our music, but also let go and FEEL. If you didn’t feel something, no bass or choreography will change that, so we plan to do both.”
The duo has big goals for the following 5 years, as to they want to tour the world… “One of our biggest dreams and passions is our live show. Again speaking on our Danish fanbase, we want to be able to see them and play for them one day to say thank you for supporting us! It means nothing unless fans and followers see you for who you are and get to experience the fun with you. We want to play as many dates humanly possible In a year with our crazy awesome band” they tell me… I hope they are also planning to come to Boston are in those future plans… But as of right now they are just working on their music and making an impression on social media and the States. All of their recent shows have been in Nashville, and no upcoming events are currently being sold. Strangers were their most recent releases after their debut original single, Walls Speak. What’s Going On? is their most listened to song with over 25k listens, and Walls Speak is their top song with over 15k streams a little over a month of it being released.
I would like to thank Dani and Colton for making my day with their response to me reaching out on Instagram earlier this year, seriously guys they’re really cool people! I am so grateful for their continued communication, and I can’t wait to see where they go from here. To my readers, thank you for sticking around and I hope you are ready for some amazing musicians that I cannot wait to review! Please share this article if you enjoy reading it and even comment your thoughts too!