Nia Archives is pushing Jungle to a new level
April 13th 2023
Jungle as a genre has had a massive influence on the sound of music in the UK. The scene, which has been around for about 30 years now, has really stood the test of time. But the 2020s feel like the beginning of a new era, led by a wave of creative young women who are experimenting with the sound to push it to the next level. Nia Archives is one such pioneer. The 24 year old UK producer, DJ, and songwriter is constantly changing it up, rounding out her portfolio of sounds with the release of every one of her EPs since she broke onto the scene in 2021. Fresh off the release of her third, Sunrise Bang Ur Head Against Tha Wall, Nia dropped by the station for a chat on Arvos with Bri Kennedy.
“Without jungle, there’d be no drum and bass, or garage, or grime. Even UK drill is a by-product of jungle.”
Having grown up casually with the genre before becoming obsessed as a teen and then eventually becoming one of its biggest contemporary names, Nia is excited to see evolution as younger artists like her make waves. Each generation, she enthused, brings their own take on the sound, pushing things forward while still paying respect to the artists that laid the groundwork before them.
“I feel like there’s a lot of cool producers that I’m personally really excited about. They’re all really young and they’re making stuff I really like.”
At this point, the scene has been around long enough for things to start getting self-referential, with artists making sonic callbacks to the early jungle beats of 1996 (Nia herself has described her music as having a “future classic” vibe). Unlike 1996, however, this time ‘round there’s a lot more women on the jungle scene, both behind the decks and on the dancefloor.
“The raves are changing. The [crowds] are predominantly girls. At my gigs, I would say 70 per cent women and they hold it down. The guys try to push in front of them, they’re like “nah, I’m up in this spot.” It’s nice to see more female energy on the dancefloor because I think it brings a nicer vibe and it’s just less aggy. If there’s women in a rave, it’s way less aggy. It’s just good vibes and the guys are more likely to be on a good vibe as well because of that.”
Nia’s own sound is ever-shifting too. She spoke about how she’s pushed herself to evolve a long way since her first EP, 2021’s bouncy, soulful Headz Gone West. Made over just a couple weeks in her bedroom in lockdown, she found (as many women in the music industry do) that audiences assumed her talent primarily lay in singing and songwriting, as opposed to production.
“People were like, ‘Who’s producing this beat?’, ‘Who’s producing the Archive stuff?’ They could not grasp that I can actually use a computer. So I was just like, okay, cool, no one believes that I can produce. So let me do a project that’s purely club productions, not relying on my voice so much, and showing that, oh yeah, I can use logic as well.”
Enter Forbidden Feelingz. Built for clubs and sunlit festival stages, the six track 16 minute EP whips through a variety of rapid breakbeats and eclectic samples. It won a stack of awards, including a MOBO and BBC Music Introducing Artist of the Year. 2022 also saw Nia produce on Mall Grab’s critically acclaimed debut album, as well as add a remix to the deluxe release of PinkPantheress’ debut.
Exactly a year after the release of EP number two, Nia dropped her third, titled Sunrise Bang Ur Head Against Tha Wall. The project, she says, reflects her life right now. Having proved herself as a producer it felt good returning to a greater emphasis on songwriting. The tracks are still designed to light up the club, yes, but also to sit with you on the bus, or as you make breakfast.
“[I aimed to] bring my listeners on a journey with me, because I can do the clubby stuff, but I can also write real songs about real life that you can live with.”
As always, the new project sees Nia broaden her palette even further. She explores micro-genres within jungle, experimenting on each song while retaining an overall cohesiveness.
“I wanted this project to be a window into what an album for me could look like.”
With said album already in the works, 2023 looks to be a big year. Next week Nia heads to America to play Coachella, before hitting the European festival circuit and then joining slowthai on tour in September.
“I’m very ready for it because, you know, this is my dream. This is all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was like six.”
Listen back to the full interview up top, in which Nia talks about how she first got into jungle through her nana, her one rule for converting live show anxiety into adrenaline, and her recent trip to Brazil. Stream her latest EP below.