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Lighting up the sky

Twins Natalie (l.) and Nicole Albino, Astoria natives, perform together as Nina Sky and have released their latest album "Now Is The Time." Photo by Gavin Thomas
TimesLedger Newspapers

The sky’s the limit for Queens-based recording artists Nicole and Natalie Albino, who have performed all over the world — from Europe to Japan, from Africa to Dubai, and recently, Indonesia.

The identical twins musical duo — Nina Sky — is celebrating the release of their newest album, “Nina Sky: Now Is The Time.” They describe it as “an upbeat song with a positive message.”

“‘Nina’ is a combination of both our names, and ‘Sky’s’ the limit,” Nicole quips.

Having contributed to various music genres, including hip-hop/reggaeton, Nina Sky’s song is based on their mantra: “Don’t wait. If you want to do something, now is the time… tomorrow is not promised.”

The twins, 28, who agree that making good music is “all about the energy and vibes in the room,” started performing professionally in 2004 when they released their first groovin’ single, “Move Ya Body,” which became a No. 17 hit on the Top 40 chart, quickly moving up to No. 5 on both sides of the Atlantic.

“(Radio/TV personality and DJ) Cipha Sounds asked us to write a song in the Coolie Dance riddim (which refers to the instrumental accompaniment to a song). Initially, it was supposed to be a song that he would play on his show at Hot 97 to test the waters and see what people thought about us,” says Natalie. “It eventually ended up being the song that got us signed to a label and is our biggest song to date.”

Earlier this year, they released “Nicole and Natalie” — their first album in eight years. “We really feel like it represents our growth, musically, and in our personal lives. We produced it and had our hands in every aspect of it, creatively,” says Nicole.

Growing up in Astoria

The girls recalled music always playing in their home. “Our stepdad was a DJ and he deejayed all our family parties,” Nicole says. “He was our first major influence in music, and our diverse taste definitely comes from him. He played Miles Davis, Metallica, Bob Marley, Anita Baker and everything in between.”

And Natalie says they don’t remember a time when they weren’t singing: “It’s always been a part of us.” At age 7 they wrote their very first song, “Sisters.”

Never formally trained in music, the twins said they learned to play drums and guitar from their stepdad, while their mom encouraged them to sing and express themselves. By the time they were 9, they had books full of songs about everything from dancing to sisterhood, and even helping sick people.

These days, they draw their inspiration from Madonna, Lauryn Hill, Lisa Lisa, Outkast and Sting.

As teens, Natalie said Steinway Street was their favorite place to shop: “We loved Sound City, where we bought most of our mix tapes, and Nicole would buy records. Astoria Park was fun in the summer; the strip always had life and the swimming pool was always full.”

Fast forward to 2012 and now when the girls “hang in their ’hood,” they say Sanford’s is their go to for a quick bite, for a nice glass of wine. They choose Mosaic and Wattawa for the best sushi.

The duo’s home studio is where they record most of their ideas before bringing them to a larger studio to be mixed and mastered. “When we were younger, we’d sing on the stoop with friends,” says Nicole. “We’d turn up the radio, press record on our karaoke machine, and sing over the beats.”

Stoli original series

The twins said they teamed up with Stolichnaya vodka for their new album:

“The series highlights originators within our community. They invited us to collaborate on a song as a part of their creative project — ORGNL.TV, showcasing different artists in fashion, art and music,” Nicole says. “For the project, we wrote ‘Now Is The Time.’” The song is available for free download at soundcloud.com/stoli-music/nina-sky-now-is-the-time.

And, along with their musical talents, the twins’ fashion sense comes naturally.

“We just consider ourselves Nicole and Natalie,” Nicole says. “We don’t take fashion as seriously as other people do. Yes, we want to be presentable and cute but most importantly, comfortable in our own skin. We love to try new things; our fashion sensibility is similar to our taste in music — we love it all!”

“Now is the time, here is the place. Live in the moment… there’s no time to waste.” (Lyrics from “Now Is The Time”).

www.ninaskyhigh.com/blog

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