Many see the turn of the new year as a time to reflect and process, but Ness Nite (whose preferred genre description is “braless”) has had little chance at that. In August, she released Nite Time, her first EP, and headlined at the Entry. She performed at First Avenue’s Mainroom twice in December — once to debut a song with Sophia Eris at Lizzo’s show and once at the Klituation in December. “I hadn’t even made ‘Yes’ yet a year ago,” she notes, sitting in a South Minneapolis café, referencing the single that first caught the scene’s ear.
Lately, the milestones keep coming. On December 18, one day before she turned 21, Nite signed her first record deal with POW Recordings. Jeff Weiss, founder and namesake of rap blog Passion of the Weiss, started the label to support “amazing artists that people [aren’t] necessarily believing in.” He wrote about Ness in “The POW Best Rap Songs of 2016,” saying, “She’s what I imagined music and culture would sound like in 2024. It’s cool that she arrived early.”
This winter, Nite is finishing work on her debut album, which will be entirely composed of new songs. “I’m really happy with all of them,” she says, “so I’ve been listening to the rough drafts in my car.”
Before Nite signed to POW, she flew to Los Angeles in December to meet the label’s staff and play a sold-out showcase. The concert featured POW signees Chester Watson, Natia, Jordan Raf, and Pioneer 11, and Nite opened. Although she and POW hadn’t yet committed to each other, she said, “we knew that was the direction we were heading in.”
That December stay convinced her to seal the deal. “I was super leery before going to LA,” she says, “because I like to do everything myself. And I do want to have my own label eventually. But I got there and we were hanging out with Haley [Potiker, the label’s general manager], Paul [Thompson, a Passion of the Weiss writer], and Jeff, and they seemed really cool and down to earth and just cared about music a lot — the direction of music, and artists’ well-being […] I think they just want good music to be out.” She spreads her hands. “They aren’t trying to trap people. The contract was two pages long in language that was beyond easy to understand.”
Especially after playing that first show outside the Midwest, Nite has her eyes on the horizon; “I want to move,” she says, although “it probably won’t happen for a while.” She’d “claim that Ness Nite is from Minnesota, because it’s where I started music.” But she might find it hard to support herself here: “There’s a scene, but not a lot of industry or money.”
So she’s stepping onto a national scene, and hopefully, she’ll have to time to process soon. “I feel like so much has happened in the past three months that I haven’t been emotional about it yet,” she says. “Once I finish the record, I’ll be like —“ she makes an exploding sound. “Don’t contact me for three days. I’ll be in my room.”
Ness Nite performs her “last show in the cities for a while” at the 7th St. Entry tonight.