“I’d like my image to be an empowered woman for younger people.”
Nicole O’Brien made a name for herself on Netflix’s Too Hot To Handle during its first ever season, and as we watched the Cork native get her flirt on, she had other ideas in mind.
Speaking exclusively with Her.ie, Nicole sat down to chat all things life on a reality show and what inspired her to take part in the show in the first place – and of course, her biggest regrets from it.
Nicole’s career has always been about making music, starting from a young age she always knew what she wanted to do and was prepared to get there no matter what.
Ahead of the launch of her new single C’est La Vie, she revealed to us that she appeared on the Netflix show for one reason only, to kickstart her music career.
She said: “I’m so open and honest about it, that is literally the sole reason why I went on. Some people will say they do TV for love and I feel like that’s a minute amount of people who actually go on it for love. I just went on it because I wanted to do music and have a career in music. It’s so hard, if you want to get into music and only have a few thousand followers, labels don’t even look twice at you.
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“I’ve got the most amazing songwriters, and friends who are singers and are so talented and only have a few hundred followers, they can’t get noticed. It is ridiculous how music has changed, if you’ve a big social media presence or are big on TikTok, that’s the way forward because you can promote your music like that.
“That was the only reason I went on it, I’m not a very controversial character to be on TV, I’m chilled so the dating shows didn’t really suit me that well but I knew this is what you have to do.”
When it comes to the music industry, there was a lot Nicole was unprepared for, from getting in with the wrong people and working her way up the ladder, she unfortunately had to learn the hard way when it came to getting her single out there.
She said: “I’ve been trying to do this professionally for about two years now, and I got in with the wrong people at the start. I was very naive to the industry. Yes, I’ve been doing music my whole life but not professionally.
“I got in with the wrong people who were not great for me and I was very naive to what they were doing and they actually ended up taking money off me, stealing money. That was a bit traumatising for me, it took a lot to find a good team but it was actually down to me networking through different people and meeting different people, even on nights out and stuff.
“Anne Marie is my idol, I love her and one of the producers that did C’est La Vie has done a lot of her tracks, so some of her team are now doing my music. It took me a long time to find those people, it was just through meeting other people, that’s how I found them really. They’re now my sole team for music, which is amazing.”
While she has regrets about certain moves in the industry, she was the opposite when it came to reality TV. Nicole’s experience on Too Hot To Handle was unlike others, she had a goal in mind and wasn’t prepared to ruin her own reputation to get there.
Trying to remain credible in a villa full of horny 20-odd year olds, Nicole stood her ground and despite not being the most controversial in there, she was more relieved that her mam wouldn’t have to see her getting off with someone.
She explained: “I literally thought it was going to be like Love Island. I went on and was like ‘what lad am I going to couple up with, I don’t really fancy a lot of them but there are a few fitties, I’ll see’ and then two days in it was like ‘you can’t do anything’. Mammy back home is going to be delighted with this now, I’ve to wait a full month now before I can contact her and tell her all this but she’ll be happy.
“The one regret is that I didn’t realise how TV worked at that point, because that was the only TV I had ever done and now I’ve done a lot of shows, I now know how to work the camera and do different bits and pieces. I was very naive to it all. I was very strong myself, the producers would ask me to do certain things, do this and do that if you want. I’d be like ‘no’, because I’m not comfortable with that but everyone else would have done it. I’m happy that I did stand my ground about different things but I also wish I knew a bit more about how TV worked.”
With an album coming next year and hopes to join a bigger performer on tour, Nicole’s new music is only the start – and her main aim is to empower women while doing it.
Hoping to give her fans more confidence and life advice through her new song, she said: “I feel like, me myself, I’d like my image to be an empowered woman for younger people. I’ve been through a lot of toxic situationships and relationships over the past few years.
“I know a lot of people suffer with that, where they’re in a toxic relationship, they don’t know what to do and they feel like they don’t really have control over it. Their confidence goes, that happened to me so I wanted to create an anthem that was like ‘say goodbye to that person, love yourself more than what you’re loving them and just feel empowered and let go.’
“Even though it’s so hard, once you do it, you will feel the world better and you get back to feeling yourself. That’s kind of the message of C’est La Vie, just getting your confidence back and letting that toxic person go out of your life. It’s not necessarily just men, it can be for women as well. It’s quite universal.”
Nicole’s new single C’est La Vie is out now.