If you read the recent Humans of St. Thomas post in The Scroll, you aren’t at all surprised by today’s profile: the musical and multilayered UST inhabitant Nyasia!
She is “partner in crime” with NJ (Nick Jordan), whom thousands of you reportedly loved reading about (and hearing from, via “Old School”). After learning more about Nyasia, we are just sayin’: She gives Nick a run for his musical, soulful money – and she owns a similarly endearing sense of humor, humility and connectedness to family.
Without further adieu, it’s our pleasure to introduce Nyasia Arradondo: St. Thomas junior, English major, known as “princess” to her parents, Netflix fan, First Avenue performer and pretty darn impressive rising star (who will, we predict, realize her dream of one day being interviewed by the one and only Jimmy Fallon!).
Tell us about you. Where’d you grow up, school, family … everything: I was born and raised in Minneapolis, where I still live. For a majority of my life, my goal was to leave – but Minneapolis is my home and I love it. I went to Breck School from fifth grade to my senior year of high school. My mom is Hmong and my dad is black, Mexican and Spanish, so I grew up having a strong connection to my culture and knowing the importance of my heritage. I have one brother, Medaria, who is only a year and 10 days older than me so we’re very close. He also sings but he is mostly known for his rapping.
Do you have any nicknames? My parents still call me “princess,” which I used to find extremely embarrassing but I’ve grown to love again. Some people call me Asia but even with a difficult name like mine, most people call me Nyasia.
What about your music? Did you always know you’d pursue it? I didn’t. I’ve had a lot of different dreams – my first big dream was to dance, which I studied for 11 years before I started focusing on music. I was really inspired by Sade, Whitney Houston, Alicia Keys, Selena and Corinne Bailey Rae, and seeing those artists drove me to practice this craft. I started by making YouTube videos, just to get some pointers. One of my friends saw my videos and showed them to a local rapper. Shortly after I became a singer in a local rap group. After that, there was a whirlwind of bands and me as a solo act.
Wow, you’ve done a lot in your first two decades! I try not to see these different projects, or parts of my life, as failures but as amazing opportunities. I’ve been able to perform at Project Earth, at the 7th Street opening up for Toki Wright and at the First Ave Mainroom opening up for the rapper Sammy Adams. It’s been a journey with a lot of ups and downs and disappointments, but it’s been incredible to hone my craft and get my name out there!
Why St. Thomas? I chose St. Thomas after attending the ThreeSixty Journalism camp here in high school. I fell in love with the beautiful campus. My favorite place on campus is Scooter’s and all my friends know it. They don’t even text me. They just look for me in Scooter’s.
Best moments you’ve had at UST so far? My best moment was meeting all my friends. Also, meeting one of my favorite professors, Dr. (Susan) Myers (theology). I look up to her so much. I also love Christmastime at UST. I love the decorations and the ginormous tree in the ASC.
What’s something you can’t live without? I can’t live without Hulu and Netflix.
What’s something you can live without? I can live without unrealistic societal standards.
What type of music do you make? What do you love about it? My music is soulful, trance-like and timeless. Good music is good music, whether it’s new or old, and I want my music to be first-rate in a timeless way. What I love most about my music is that it’s honest.
Say more. A lot of times people and artists are scared to say what’s on their mind because it may paint them in a negative light, but I’m not scared to say how I feel in my music, even if you look at me differently. All emotions are valid. Music is my therapy. It’s my way of turning an ugly situation into something beautiful.
What never fails to make you smile? My grandma always makes me smile. She has a great sense of humor. She doesn’t speak English very well and I don’t know very much Hmong, but we just laugh and laugh. She can crack jokes for days. If there was a Comedy Central Roast of Nyasia, she would kill it.
What’s your dream? My dream isn’t to win a Grammy or to perform with Missy Elliot at a Super Bowl half-time show, although those things would be awesome! For the longest time it has been to be interviewed by Jimmy Fallon. That would be “making it” in my opinion. I absolutely love him; I’m probably his biggest fan. It would be a dream come true for him to ask me silly questions or to play Catchphrase. Plus, he just seems like the nicest guy.
Best advice you’ve ever received? This past year, I went through something very traumatic and I was told to take care of myself before anything else.
If you had $100 and one hour to spend it, where would you go and what would you buy? I’d walk into Petco and buy a tortoise. I love turtles and tortoises and I’ve just been focused on paying off my credit card bill so I haven’t really been able to get my tortoise.
Tell us about your friendship and collaboration with Nick Jordan? Nick was my first friend at St. Thomas and we just clicked over music. I remember talking about Justin Timberlake’s “Justified” album and realizing we were really similar. It felt like I’d known him for years, growing up together, listening to the same exact music. Nick is my partner in crime. He’s the most talented, compassionate, funny and humble person I’ve ever met. He’s always been there for me. He always looks out for me. In my toughest moments, he’s been the voice of reason and my shining light. He saved my life and I’m forever grateful to have him as a friend.
What’s your favorite song to perform? Probably my song “In the Morning,” which is one of my original songs (and just hit YouTube last weekend). It fits in any atmosphere and I love the imagery in that song.
Do you have any guilty pleasures? My guilty pleasure is that I absolutely love to cook so I can take pictures of my delicious meals to post on Instagram.
Three words that describe Nyasia? Audio Canvas Painter.
As always, keep sending your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org about other UST inhabitants to feature in future Humans of St. Thomas posts.