New Music, New Goals, New Love: Why Nicotine Didn’t Let Depression Defeat Her
By Bri’Ann Stephens
In just one year, singer and musician, Nicotine’s Famous Honey has gone on to release her first debut album, she’s moved from Houston to New York City and she’s overcome the personal strongholds like depression and abuse that held her back just this time last year. Some of her singles have even been listened to more than 23,000 times on SoundCloud and her music is now available on all major music streams.
As she would describe it, “A year has come and gone and it seems that a majority of my worries went right along with it.”
How different would your life be one year from now, if you made up your mind to no longer allow your perceived limitations to hold you back from following your dreams and fulfilling your desires?
Last year we spoke to Nicotine and she shared with us her struggles, insecurities and aspirations. In honor of mental health awareness month, we took a moment to catch up with Nicotine to find out more about how she’s conquering depression, blooming in her career and so much more.
What inspires you to write poetry and music? What obstacles have molded you into the person you are today? What are you doing to prepare your future for where you would like to be as an artist?
My inspiration for writing came from within me, long ago. I knew I wanted to be exactly this when I was just a child. I write about my life - my experiences, and my aspirations.
My life has never been easy, but it was not the hardest. I have had to and am still trying to overcome many things such as my depression, family issues, insecurities, and an abusive relationship.
All of these things have somehow boiled together to create a strange soup of clarity. I am thankful for every negative moment in my life, because each one taught me a lesson and I grew.
I feel unchainable. There is no limit to my work, my voice. I am the only thing that could ever stop me - and I would never do such a thing.
For my future, I have quite a few things planned. I want to release new music constantly. I perform quite often, but I would like to get to the point where I have at least one show per week. I am going to be traveling a lot more, starting in 2016, for my music and other things that I like to do (acting/modeling/art direction/etc.). There are many other things I have planned, but I would rather just do them and show everyone, instead of trying to explain my vision. It would be easier for you all to understand that way.
I want to go deeper in all of the things you have and are trying to overcome. How did you overcome them or how are you dealing with them?
The obstacles in my life seem to be never ending. Just when I think I have defeated my depression, her cold, clammy grip sneaks up behind me and pulls me back down. I have been fighting this ongoing battle for as long as I can possibly remember. Some days I refuse to get out of my bed. I refuse to eat, or speak to anyone at all. It is a complicated feeling, well at least for me it is, because I know that I am okay - that I am safe. However, my brain constantly tells me that everything is going wrong and that I am a failure. My own brain is my worst enemy and my best motivation. Because of the negativity inflicted onto myself, I work even harder to prove that part of my brain wrong. That is how I overcome my depression. I make beautiful music. I write it away and send letters of my success into the universe, and I smile.
The abusive relationship that I was in is still a secret to most people, including my family. I still do not really know how to tell them, especially my mother. I know that her heart would fall to her stomach and she would get extremely ill, for this was one of the dangers of love that she always warned me about.
I loved him dearly. I took care of him, his friends, and his family. I spent all of my days with him and I could not imagine myself with anyone other than him. He had a couple bad habits, and I fell victim when he fell under the control of those habits.
I have the blessing and curse of forgiveness. For a while, due to experiences I had growing up, I thought that to forgive, meant to take back. I had to experience the countless beatings and disrespect, to truly realize that this is not what forgiveness means. I do not have to sit here and take this. This is not what love is. He did not love me. I love me. I forgive him for all that he has done to me, and I wish him nothing but great things. But I never will I ever settle for anything that I do not deserve again in my life.
Why do you feel that you are still depressed? Where do the insecurities come from?
One thing about depression that people often misinterpret is that it’s something that cannot just be shut off. If I could wake up one morning and flip the switch, I most definitely would.
However, at the same time, I am very appreciative of my illness, as twisted as that sounds. Living with depression has molded me into the caring person that I am today, along with many other things. I take time out of my day to reach out and uplift those that I see struggling with inner and/or external battles. I let them know that they are not alone and that if no one else will love them, I will. Everyone deserves that love. Absolutely everyone.
My insecurities come from many different things. I was my mother’s only black child, so often I would be treated differently. I fought a lot in elementary school, due to racism thrown from bullies. I hated who I was because I did not understand who I was at the time.
When I got to middle school, I was the only girl who had experienced puberty. My bra cup was a C in the sixth grade, and I had stretch marks all around my body. I felt so out of place. I could not wear certain types of clothing, or else I would be deemed a “hoe” by my peers, as well as my own mother.
At the age of 11, two boys took advantage of me and it changed my entire life. I began to fear men, and it is a fear that I still hold on to today. For years, I covered my body with huge jackets and jeans. I did not want to be seen. However, I broke that shell my junior year in high school, and embraced my body. I embraced my pain and I grew from it.
You will be able to trust a man again. You will be able to love. It just takes self-love first. You have to make sure to love yourself before you try to love anyone else.
In your first interview with us, you mentioned that you were still overcoming depression, family issues, insecurities, and an abusive relationship. A year later, do you feel as though you're at a point in life where you can say you've overcame?
A year has come and gone and it seems that a majority of my worries went right along with it. 2016 was one of the loneliest moments in my life. I faced many battles, from attempted suicide to almost losing my mother to drugs to losing quite a few loved ones back to back...it was extremely hard.
I decided to take some down time and get back in tune with my mind and spirit. Through meditation, yoga, amazing friends, and my love for music, I've reached a new height of happiness. My depressive episodes don't seem to knock on my door as often as they used to, and I must tell you how relieved I am. I was worried that I was too weak to survive, but I knew just how strong I was all along.
You also talked about getting into modeling, acting, and traveling more. Now, you’re modeling more and you’ve moved to New York! How was that transition from Houston and how has it shaped your career?
When I visited NY in 2016, I knew that I belonged. I was welcomed to the city with open arms, and it turned out that I had quite the fanbase here.
When I got back to Houston, I made the decision to work as hard as I could to make sure that I could move to NY before 2017. I did just that. I was blessed with amazing bandmates who saw a light in me. They trusted my talent and my determination enough to drop everything and move cross country with me. They didn't even know me. They just knew my love for music, and they trusted me.
Since we've been here, our careers have bloomed quite quickly. Everything is moving rather fast, and sometimes it can get a bit stressful. But, I just breathe and look around. I see lovely faces. I feel warm energies. I do it because of them. Ian, Hunter, Lovette, Lloyd, and my sweet honey Javaughn. They help me accomplish whatever it is I need to do. They give me strength.
Do you have any advice for women and musicians thinking about making that big move?
My sisters, do not wait to follow your dreams. Do not allow anyone's opinion or input to steer you off the path that was paved for you. It is yours.
Do your research on whatever it is that you are trying to do, and wherever it is that you are trying to go. Make sure to learn as much as you can, because you can never learn enough.
Push yourselves. Believe in yourselves. Be kind. Be humble. You're going to come across many different types of people, including some bad ones - protect yourselves and those you care for. You're going to do an amazing job, and you're going to be great. I can feel it. I can see it.
You tweeted recently that Pink Productions was the first platform where you talked about your abusive relationship and being taken advantage of at a young age - a year later you are in a new fresh relationship. How is it different from your past relationship and was it hard to open up again after all that you've been through?
His name is Javaughn and I love him. He is a smart man, a kind one. He has many talents and few fears. His tongue holds truth and his eyes showcase sincerity. He is my person, as I am his.
You've performed for Nylon Magazine, you have music on all of the major music streams and your plays on SoundCloud are through the roof! I would like to say congratulations. I've known you since you were performing small shows in Houston, and your growth is amazing. Tell us what story you want to tell through your music, as well as your music goals. What do you want your audience to feel while listening to your music?
Thank you so much! My music is extremely personal to me. I only write what I have experienced, and I try my very best to get that across. As you all know from our previous interaction, I struggled with many different things while growing up. I want to show everyone that the light we hold within ourselves is far stronger than any of the darkness that was dawned on us throughout our lives.
We possess the keys to life and love. We are such powerful beings, and we need to take care of ourselves - just as we need to take care of each other. The motive behind my music is to spread love and knowledge of self and those around you. I want everyone to feel me. I am love. I am light. Feel me.
You've done so much in a year. If you could create a small bucket list of 7 things you'd like to cross off by next year, what would they be?
1. Visuals. I want at least four visuals out this year. I feel they play a major role in seeing just who an artist truly is, I want everyone who listens to me to feel as if they know me in real life.
2. Travel. I want to perform all over the world. I know I won't reach the entire world by the end of the year, and that's perfectly fine. I can start with traveling around the US. If you're reading this - book us! I want to meet you!
3. Complete My Band. I really would love to have additional vocalists. My tracks have a lot of harmonies and body to them. It's important to me to get that same full energy across during performances as well. I would also love to have a guitarist and bassist on hand, as well. Ian currently plays both keys and guitar, so he has to pick and choose what to perform with for each song. Our actual bassist, Michael, still lives in Texas - so he isn't able to make it to our performances. Ian and I joked about me learning the bass, but I think I do want to pick it up. How kickass would that be?
4. Community Service. Our communities are one of the most important keys to our foundation of life, and I feel that whenever we are able, we should always give back. I have many ideas for all different types of fundraisers, drives, and projects that could bring a lot of people together for a good cause. I will see these ideas into reality. It will be beautiful.
5. Family. I want to be able to help support my family. My moving away from home left a large dent in how things went around the house. I want my family to be able to live comfortably with ease.
6. Business. I have many things outside of music that I wish to bring to life! Film, Radio, Culture, Spirituality, the list goes on and on.
7. Collaborations. Along my journey to success, I've met up and befriended some of the very artists that I listened to growing up. I have a few collaborations in the works, and I plan on adding quite a few more under my belt. I only work with artists that I feel are organic and true. I will never collaborate for a check or a co-sign. If it isn't genuine, it isn't getting done.