About six years ago, Nicole Richie posted a photo on Instagram of her first harvest of spinach — and with it, Nikki Fre$h was born. “I was so proud of it and wanted to share with the world how beautiful and spiritual gardening is,” Richie recalls today. “I was like, ‘This is more than just words, I need to [express] this in the medium of music.’”
Today (April 6), Richie has done just that with her very own semi-self-titled show on Quibi, Nikki Fre$h. At first, Richie planned to just record and release a conscious trap album, but in February 2019, she met with Quibi (she’s been a longtime friend of the platform’s founder, Jeffrey Katzenberg) and fell in love with the concept of sharing the story behind her alter ego through quick video clips.
By the end of the year, a crew was assembled to start filming Nikki Fre$h — and Richie needed the music to go with it.
She had her very first studio session in December, and recalls how her husband, Joel Madden was in the studio with her. (He and his brother Benji’s management, publishing, and production company MDDN is overseeing the show’s music).
The first song she recorded was “Parent Trap” — Nikki Fre$h’s anthem of sorts — and she says while Joel “plopped down so casually on a chair” she froze. “He’s been doing this forever, I have not. For me, it was opening a whole different side of myself.”
Richie co-wrote the nine tracks that both soundtrack her show and will make up her upcoming album, Unearthed, out later in April, with Joel and her good friend Sarah Hudson (Katy Perry, Justin Bieber). Richie remembers calling Hudson, who at the time was working with Dua Lipa on tracks from her recently released Future Nostalgia, asking for assistance. “I was like, ‘I know you’re really busy, but do you by chance want to make a parent trap album that’s all about growing vegetables, loving crystals and being at one with the universe?’” Hudson didn’t hesitate, and they soon after got to work.
While Richie always knew what subjects she wanted to spotlight in her show and music — there’s a song called “U.G.L.Y. all about wasting produce that doesn’t look perfect, and a track called “Bee’s Tea” about saving the bees — she also knew what she didn’t want to include: any part of her real life. “I didn’t want it to get confused with being a reality show,” she says. “I was very adamant about that.”
Even so, the first episode did end up mirroring a real-life situation that was too perfect to ignore. In it, Richie meets with Joel and Benji to pitch them on her forthcoming comedy album. “I was the only girl, and I’m talking to four or five guys wearing all black and covered in tattoos,” she recalls. “I never ask my husband to be on camera with me ever, it’s something that we do not do, but I just needed to recreate that scene; and, they’re spearheading the music side, so it just made sense.”
She’s well aware that launching her show now, in the middle of the ongoing pandemic, is “definitely weird,” saying that she even had to go back and think about everything that she’d done on the show to see if it still felt appropriate. “But after going back and forth and talking to my family and people who have worked on it with me, I’m really excited for this show to come out right now. It wasn’t necessarily meant for a moment like this, but I do really believe that understanding and knowing how to grow your own food is as relevant as it ever could be.”
Now, with the show airing and the countdown to her album release date underway, Richie is thrilled to share such a passion project with her friends, family and the entire internet. “I don’t even know if my dad has heard” the music yet, she reveals.
And while her mission to educate on gardening and healthy living remains, she’s hoping that Nikki Fre$h will launch Nicole Richie to an even higher level of stardom, saying: “I want 37 adoring fans waiting outside of every car I get out of — I want to live the life of a combination of Mariah Carey, Big Freedia, Martha Stewart and Jay Z.”
Watch the trailer for Nikki Fre$h below.