INIKO's Social Media Millions Are Finally Becoming Masses in Real Life

Senior Writer
James is trained in classical/operatic voice and cabaret, but enjoys and writes about everything, from pro-wrestling to modern dance.

While Brooklyn-based alternative soul artist INIKO consciously used social media as a medium to connect audiences with their art, through covers and original works, going viral was never the aim.

Rather, creating work that is a true representation of themselves while invoking a feeling in others was always the intent. However, a 40-second a cappella clip of their song, 'King's Affirmation', blew up their phone with notifications as they slept; subsequent single 'Jericho' has since amassed 137 million Spotify streams and counting.

As they prepare to tour Australia next month, the people behind these numbers, and the life transformative stories they tell, are finally becoming real. 2024 has been an unprecedented year for New York's INIKO, an enigmatic and indescribably captivating non-binary soul vocalist.

Although, through the power of TikTok, they've amassed 4.6 million followers, their current global tour – which has spanned the US and half of Europe ahead of Australia – is only the second of their career.

Eyeballs on a smartphone feed don't quite feel as real as wide-eyed pairs staring at a stage. "The numbers on social media; you don't realise what they actually are until you see them.

"Since I started this journey of specifically using social media as a tool to reach people, from the beginning I've been 'ok, let's set a goal of getting my follower count to here'," INIKO says.

"I can honestly say I've never sat down and really taken in the amount of people who have seen or heard my music. I remember when I reached a million followers on Instagram, I sighed and was like 'oh, let's get to two million'. It's a bad habit."

As a child, INIKO found their voice while singing at church. Their strict religious upbringing, though, stifled this voice, with traumatising bullying over their gender and sexual identity.

After finding a platform online, following extensive spiritual journeying and self-work, Iniko's drive to find others is not for selfish reasons; they want to empower others.

"There's really so many people all over the world who feel unheard, like they don't have a voice and I just hope or know that my music reaches them and reminds them that their voice has always been there," INIKO says.

"It's just a matter of speaking, acting or moving, whatever it might be for you: breathing in and out. That awakens a voice inside.

"[People say] thank you for your art, 'this helped me to get up in the morning', 'this helped me apply for jobs' or be able to beat addiction," Iniko says.

"I'll always be like 'that's crazy,' but I'll always remind them that my music is just a catalyst: that was all you. I played just a little part; the rest, you did that."

As a voice for inclusion and breaking down walls, Iniko has encountered anonymous trolls hiding under the dark bridge that social media provides. Initially, the animosity was re-traumatising, but INIKO now views it as a further opportunity to regain power.

"There's in-person bullying and there's a face to your bully; you can see the person, you can confront them if you really want to but then there's cyberbullying," INIKO says.

"It just sends me for a loop and also triggers me because so many times in my life my words have been misconstrued or my identity has been placed into a box.

"Now when it does happen, it feels familiar and I think I've gotten better at either ignoring it or responding without feeling any shame.

"At the end of the day, you can ignore it, yes, but I think for me it's therapy to respond and speak up for yourself, especially if you've lived a life being a person who pleases people and makes yourself smaller because you don't want to step on anybody's toes."

Australian fans will get a chance to see just how big INIKO's voice has grown when they tour our shores this July.

INIKO 2024 Tour Dates

Wed 3 Jul - The Corner Hotel (Melbourne / Naarm)
Thu 4 Jul - Factory Theatre (Sydney / Warrane, Gadigal)
Fri 5 Jul - Open Season @ The Tivoli (Brisbane / Meanjin)

Let's Socialise

Facebook pink circle    Instagram pink circle    YouTube pink circle    YouTube pink circle

 OG    NAT

Twitter pink circle    Twitter pink circle