How much does the Queens hip-hop twin duo know about one another? Spoiler alert: a lot.
She Said, She Said is a column in which two sisters answer a little questionnaire about one another, then answer the questions themselves. Think The Newlywed Game, but with siblings.
We decided to sit down with mega-talented hip-hop super duo Nina Sky and ask them a few questions about each other. Nicole and Natalie Albino are twin sisters from Queens, New York. They’ve been producing amazing, eclectic songs and beats since 2004, though the sisters have been involved with music since they were kids. The Caribbean-inspired club hit “Move Ya Body” earned the twins international fame eight years ago, and they went on to contribute to reggaeton tracks like “Mas Maiz" with N.O.R.E. Collaborations with Creep, Major Lazer, Diplo, Brenmar, and many more have continued to showcase Nina Sky’s flawless vocals and songwriting skills. We talked to them about the newest album, Nicole & Natalie (and they reveal their next single!). But first, the girls show us how much identical twin best friends know about each other. Turns out, it’s a lot.
What is Nicole’s weirdest habit?
Natalie: I don’t think Nicole has any!
Nicole: Let me think…maybe I myself don’t think it’s weird...
Natalie: Nicole makes out with her dog, Wow Wow. Not that there’s anything wrong with it because there are people who lick their dogs, but Nicole’s dog kisses her on the mouth all the time. It’s her other lover. It’s weird to other people. I don’t think it’s weird, but I can see how others might find it weird, because I’m also a dog owner.
Nicole: I do kiss my dog on the mouth. And if you want to ask me the same question, I think it’s weird that Natalie doesn’t kiss her dog on the mouth, so take that!
Natalie: I allow my dog to lick my mouth, but I don’t pucker my lips.
Nicole: I pucker.
Natalie: I allow her to lick my face and my mouth, but I don’t pucker back.
Nicole: I pucker, but it’s not like we’re making out and touching tongues, because that’s gross.
Natalie: Yeah, just kissing dogs! Like I said, there’s nothing weird about it, it’s just the only thing I could think of. Tell her about my dog’s breath!
Nicole: Terrible. Rancid.
Natalie: That’s why I don’t do it!
What is Natalie’s biggest pet peeve?
Natalie: Ooh, I have so many.
Nicole: Hmmm…I don’t even know! What’s Nat’s biggest pet peeve?…
Natalie: Things that annoy me.
Nicole: Yes, I know what that means, Natalie. Thanks for the clarity. [Laughs]
Natalie: There are a lot that have to do with train stations—the way people walk, emergency exits at train stations…
Nicole: The way people walk?! Why don’t you tell them your pet peeve?
Natalie: Okay, I have many. There’s a bunch of little things that bother me. I addressed one on Twitter today: I hate when guys call women “bitches.” I guess sometimes, when you’re trying to be derogatory or disrespect a girl or be mean…whatever, it still doesn’t make sense. But when you can say “lady,” or “woman,” or “girl,” or use another word, I hate it when men use “bitches.” I don’t like when exiting the train and you’re going to the turnstiles and there’s always one idiot who wants to walk through the emergency exit. It clearly says “emergency,” and the sound is something you just don’t want to hear. The alarm is so annoying. I hate people who are always in a rush because they’re late. When you’re walking and someone bumps into you because they’re running behind. People that don’t walk to the right on staircases. People that don’t brush their teeth after being on a flight for six hours and then they want to talk to you. My number one pet peeve is being on a flight with someone that sleeps the whole flight—say, an eight-hour flight, because we take many of those. The first thing they wanna do is yawn and they don’t cover their mouth. Or they wanna talk to you. And I think that’s a common one that Nicole and I share.
Nicole: That is. That is probably my biggest pet peeve. Disgusting.
Natalie: Yeah or they wake up in a really great mood and want to sing! It’s like, “Dude, brush your teeth first!”
Who would Nicole want to collaborate with on a song?
Natalie: I think for both of us, the people we would want to collaborate with—and we’ve said this forever—would be Outkast. They’re an amazing duo, we’re a duo. They’re very eclectic and versatile.
Nicole: That’s right.
What is Natalie’s favorite place to hang out in the city?
Nicole: Natalie hangs out in Central Park on Sundays, because there are lots of people playing music—they play their drums. They also have the old school roller skaters that have been there for years. We’ve been going there since we were children, watching them roller skate and play house music. Our stepfather plays drums with the drummers.
Where exactly is it in the park?
Nicole: It happens in the center of the park!
Natalie: If you enter at 69th Street and walk all the way across.
Nicole: You would never know that that happens there.
Natalie: There’s a whole community there! So I enjoy going there. My stepfather goes on Sundays. I think that’s my favorite place to hang out in the city. Besides here, downtown you know.
Okay, so what about Nicole?
Natalie: At home!
What’s Nicole’s favorite restaurant?
Natalie: Nicole’s favorite restaurant is Pio Pio! They have them in the city now, but when we were young, we used to go to the one in Northern Boulevard in Jackson Heights, Queens. We grew up in Queens and we’ve been going there since we were children. It was where our family gathered to have dinner. It’s Peruvian food. That is Nicole’s favorite place.
Nicole: Natalie’s favorite restaurant is Pio Pio too!
Natalie: I don’t eat meat anymore and it’s a chicken place, but I freakin’ love it. I can still go.
What’s Nicole’s first tattoo?
Natalie: Nicole’s first tattoo was a tramp stamp on the bottom of her back. She’ll probably hate me for saying that, but back then, it wasn’t even called a tramp stamp! It was supposed to be a moon, but when we looked at it after, it looked like it had the Batman symbol in it? I think it’s awesome, because it was our first. It represents a really special time for us. It was our sweet sixteen and the day after, we went and got them together. I didn’t get the same one, but that’s Nicole’s first tattoo. She never shows it, I don’t think anyone’s ever seen it in any pictures.
Nicole: Natalie’s first tattoo is a sun on her left shoulder and it looks like a bull’s eye, not like a sun.
What’s Natalie’s most meaningful tattoo?
Nicole: Natalie’s most meaningful tattoo is my name on her wrist, for obvious reasons.
Natalie: I’m going to say that my name on her wrist is her most meaningful. But she also has a Ganesh on her right arm. I love elephants and I love Ganeshes and Nicole got that tattoo for me. So I think that’s her most meaningful. Am I correct?
Nicole: No. [Laughs] Just kidding, yes, yes.
What’s one item of clothing Nicole couldn’t live without?
Natalie: We did a photo shoot a while ago, we had to pick one thing you wouldn’t let burn in a house. It was a suit, and because she chose that, I’m going to say that. It’s the most expensive thing Nicole has ever bought. It’s a white Gucci suit.
Nicole: If I ever needed some money, I guess I could sell it. If anyone wants a white Gucci suit.
So is she right?
Nicole: I was going to say these Converses I’ve had for eight years. They’re ripped, my feet talk when I’m walking, they have holes. But I love them and I feel like they have this charm to them.
Natalie: They definitely have a story.
Nicole: Yeah they have a story. I’ve had them for a long time. Every time I see my mom she says, “I’ll buy you a new pair of sneakers, Nicole, if you need new sneakers.” I’m like, “No you don’t understand, Converse are supposed to be worn like this.” I love them, so I think that’s the one piece of clothing that I can’t live without. I wear them all the time. For Natalie, something she can’t live without? I don’t know, I don’t think to either of us clothing is that important. The only reason I say the sneakers is because I’ve had them for so long and they’re so worn in so perfectly that I’d never want to part with them.
Natalie: I used to have this cable-knit sweater. Remember that sweater that I made holes in for my thumbs? It was one of those things that I didn’t want to part with and my mom went in my closet and threw it out. She said it was too worn out. It was something I claimed from my grandma’s closet and ended up wearing a lot. She threw it out and I was so upset. But that kind of made me realize that clothes really aren’t that important. So there’s nothing that I own that I wouldn’t part with.
Who is Nicole’s role model?
Natalie: I would say for both of us, our mom. She definitely raised us right and showed us what a strong woman should be like.
Nicole: Correct. I would also say my mom.
What’s an interesting or crazy tour story about Natalie?
Nicole: One time, this girl licked Natalie on the face, on her cheek. I don’t know what she was thinking. Maybe she was too drunk or high. She went up to Natalie and you think that someone’s going to give you a hug or a kiss, and she just licked Natalie’s face. I think that was a weird tour story.
What was your reaction, Natalie?
Natalie: I was surprised! I looked at Nicole and I was like, “She just fuckin’ licked my face!” I’ve fallen off stage before too. I literally walked off the stage. You know, shit happens.
What about Nicole?
Natalie: She had a fan once that was getting all of her tattoos. The girl was really nice and she would show up and be like, “Look I got this one!” She was a very nice girl who would come to all of our New York City shows and show Nicole that tattoos as she got them. That was kind of weird, but also it was cool. If she still has them, then she has cool tattoos! She chose a cool person.
Do you know many she has so far?
Natalie: She hasn’t come around in years. This was in the beginning when we first started, she would come to our shows. There would be shows maybe a month apart and she had another tattoo and another tattoo!
That about does it for She Said, She Said. Are you guys playing any shows soon?
Nicole: We have some DJ gigs in New York.
Natalie: I think we’re doing a show for CMJ at Webster Hall.
Nicole: And for the next three months we have this once a month DJ residency in Zurich.
Natalie: We’re actually putting together a tour right now. An East coast run for now to go with the album we just released, Nicole & Natalie. So that should be confirmed soon too.
Can you talk a little bit about Nicole & Natalie? How did you decide on which producers you wanted to work with?
For this album, we wanted to work with people that we thought had good vibes and people that we had relationships with. We know that that’s how you make the best music—when it’s not forced. You don’t walk into a studio and feel like “I have to be here, I have to work with this person,” even though maybe it’s not the person you want to work with. So we reached out to people we personally knew and vibed with. We worked with Brenmar on “Comatose,” we worked with Salaam Remi, who we worked with a lot since 2005. We recorded a lot of songs with him over the years. We worked with Slim Willy of Ferrari Snowday, who I co-produced songs with on the album. We wrote the whole album. That was the reason we named the album Nicole & Natalie. From producing on the album, to creatively directing the imagery for the album, to writing the songs, it all came from us. This is the first time we’ve actually done that. Even creatively, the people we worked with behind the imagery and the videos were people we felt comfortable with and had relationships with. That’s what this whole project was about: really showing who Nicole and Natalie are.
Any new music videos coming out?
Nicole: We’re shooting our third video for the album. First was “Daydreaming,” then “Heartbeat,” now this third song, “Comatose” by Brenmar. It seems to be one of the most popular songs on the project. The directors we’re working with are two friends named BRTHR. That’s their director name. They’re super talented and the concept they have is super dope. The song is “Comatose.” You heard it first!
Natalie: The concept is more artistic. Obviously, it’s a Nina Sky song, so we’ll be in the video, but it’s not about us. It’s more about the artistic side of the song. Just conveying the song artistically. Giving people something to watch.
Nicole: As opposed to it being just us singing and a camera.
Do you still see the same fans at your shows from way back when?
Natalie: Of course! We’re fortunate that a lot of our fans have grown with us. The same people who liked “Move Ya Body,” are saying, “Whoa, that Creep song is so dope!” or “‘Heartbeat' is my shit!” We’re lucky to have had our fans grow with us from the beginning. We were signed to a label eight years ago, and then we cut ties from all labels about six years ago. Since then, even when our first album came out, a lot of ideas you saw were coming from us. A lot of it was genuinely Nicole and Natalie. I think people get that.
Nicole: We’re very involved in everything we do and I don’t think that what we do comes off as fake.
Natalie: It’s not contrived. People that followed us from the beginning know that. That’s why they can appreciate “Move Ya Body” and appreciate “Heartbeat” and appreciate the Major Lazer song and the songs we’ve done in Spanish. The true fans from the beginning are going to be the same fans as now, because they know that we have always been who we are: two girls from freakin’ Queens, New York that hung out all over the city and drew inspiration from everywhere we’ve been and everything we’ve been around.