“My mantra [is] ‘Braless, Flawless, Lawless.’ That’s going to be forever. If people are ever going to ask me what kind of music I make, it’s braless music. I feel like it just covers a lot,” says rapper, singer, and producer Ness Nite. The phrase evokes the femininity and lack of restrictions that characterize Nite’s sound, music floating in an intentionally undefined space among genres, weaving together vocal styles and varying production elements to create a sound heavy on vibe and light on constraint.

“Those three things represent different kinds of freedom to me,” she says. “Braless — physical; flawless — emotional [and] mental, like I don’t feel like there’s anything wrong with me; lawless — I’m going to do whatever I want.” This radical openness pervades Nite’s work, chasing an evolving self-definition. It’s what led her to produce her own music in the first place: from turning poetry into raps to perform over Ratatat beats at open mics, she began to create her own sound by crafting beats inspired by Flume and Joel Little (the beatmaker behind much of Lorde’s production).

“I would search online for beats and I didn’t really like any of them,” she says. “I write after I make a beat…I can move my voice around the sounds that already exist. I’ll basically make a beat until it moves me in some way; this drum pattern and these sounds all working together all make me feel this sort of way. Then I put my headphones on and turn the mic on and start saying whatever comes out of my mouth. That’s what my soul [and] body is saying, that this music wants me to say.” [Jack Spencer, Local Current 7/2/16]