Nina Nesbitt rose to prominence after her first releases in 2012, which saw her rise to the top of the charts in a rapid flurry of pop fame, and the release of her debut album 'Peroxide'. Nesbitt has been playing and writing music since she was 15 years old, and is now back - age 24 - after a period of quietness, ready to release her sophomore album.
For the past few years Nesbitt has been writing for other artists, although she found that after a while she would wish that it could be her doing the singing after the tracks were finished. Feeling much older and more ready to be in control of her own image, she started recording her own stuff again - ready to release it as the newer improved Nina; reclaiming her own name and making music that felt true to herself instead of what everyone else was pressuring her to do. The result is a raw and honest collection of tracks that feel open and true - Nina’s passion and personality really shines through.
We caught up with her following the release of ‘The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change’ to talk about personal growth, reclaiming yourself and bringing female artists to the front of the live circuit.
It’s so easy to doubt yourself now with so many unrealistic expectations and comparisons online etc but I think it’s best to try focus on yourself as much as possible and just accept how you are.
COUP DE MAIN: Your new album ‘The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change’ is out now, and you are coming over to New Zealand later this year - are you excited for your first ever NZ show?
NINA NESBITT: I’m so excited! I’ve never been before but I’ve always wanted to. I think it looks kinda similar to Scotland but a bit more extreme. I’m very intrigued. The accent is one of my favourites.
CDM: What can people expect from your live show if they haven’t seen it before?
NINA: I bring the album to life with a band and lots of stories to go with it. I like to give people an idea of what the songs are about and I think that’s something you can only get from the live show. I also mix up some of the arrangements. I wanna make sure people have a fun time too so there’s lots of singing along.
CDM: What key elements of this new album do you think mark it as distinctly different to what you’ve done before?
NINA: I think it’s poppier than before, but also more personal. The story-telling is the same but the melodies are more fine tuned and catchy I'd say. It’s also just matured as I’ve grown up.
CDM: We love the lyrics, ‘Is it really me you’re missing? Or am I the only one who’ll listen?’, from your song ‘Is It Really Me You’re Missing’. Lately lots of women have been rejecting the idea that they have to act as therapists for men who expect them to - what made you decide to write a song on this subject?
NINA: It’s a song calling someone out on the way they treat you. It’s more about knowing deep down you could be anyone to someone. I think we often go through these ‘passing time’ relationships and it’s always hard when you find out you were that for someone.
CDM: We love the video for ‘Colder’ - the beauty of it contrasts with the sad subject of the pain caused by love and the struggle to let people in. Was it important to you to make sure the video remained beautiful and not sad?
NINA: That video was shot at the same time as the album artwork and the whole concept of it was that there’s always beauty in the world but you can’t always see it. I was very inspired by the lotus flower and what it symbolises, hence it being a main focus in the video.
CDM: Prior to the release of this album, you worked as a writer for other musicians. What made you realise you had to keep fulfilling your own creative urges and release things of your own?
NINA: I was getting to the end of writing sessions and wanting to be the one singing the songs. I started working alone in my home studio in London and ended up writing half an album that I loved. I knew I had a small dedicated fanbase and I thought why not release them and see what happens. I’ve been blown away by the reaction.
CDM: When you’re songwriting, is there something specific you feel when you know a song is for you, compared to it being for someone else?
NINA: Definitely. I’m not sure what it is, it’s just got to have that piece of magic in it for me to not be able to give it away. Whether it’s an emotional connection or a melody that I just can’t get out my head. I always know when I want to keep a song but it doesn’t happen that often. I have to write a lot.
CDM: What is it about pop music that attracts you so much?
NINA: I’m fascinated by what makes a song have that magical connection to people. I don’t think I’ll ever know, but it’s something I’ve worked my whole life to find out. There’s a special feeling I get when I write a pop song that I love that doesn’t compare to anything. It’s genuinely like a high lol. Being able to document my life experiences in 3 minute catchy songs is really cool in my opinion.
CDM: You said yourself that ‘Somebody Special’ is one of the happier songs on the album, and we love the lyrics, ‘I got potential to be somebody special’ - do you think this is an important message to be spreading, especially in an era of rife self-doubt?
NINA: For sure! It’s so easy to doubt yourself now with so many unrealistic expectations and comparisons online etc but I think it’s best to try focus on yourself as much as possible and just accept how you are. Something that annoys me is how much pressure we, as women in particular, have. It’s like there’s always something that can be improved whether it’s ‘be prettier’ or ‘have better skin’ or ‘be more successful’, and once you just accept how you are it’s a lot easier.
CDM: If you were to curate your own music festival, who would you want to play and what would the festival be called?
NINA: GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS. All the artists who are under represented at mainstream festivals. It’s crazy, there’s so many established artists that just don’t get booked. A lot of the festivals feel like the ‘indie male’ club and I feel like there needs to be more for females.
CDM: What do you think the difference is between a good song and a great song?
NINA: I think a great song is timeless and does the work for you. A good song can work if the timing is right. There’s too many songs out now that good songs don’t stand a chance unless the artist is already big or something outside of their music is notable. The bar is really high which is stressful, ha!
CDM: If N.I.N.A. was an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
NINA: No Idea Never Aware (left my laptop at airport security yesterday and have lost entire new album).
Nina Nesbitt's latest music video for 'Colder' is out now - watch below: