ARTIST OF THE MONTH: NINA SMITH – Interview

NINA SMITH’s debut album is a beautiful collection of songs. Songs that touch on some of the more difficult topics that we face in life, all wrapped up in some beautiful melodies and instrumentation. Ya can read more about the album HERE, but we thought we should have a chat with Nina herself to see what it’s all about…

How does it feel to finally be about to put it out into the world?

A mixed bag of emotions. One day I’m happy and ready, energised. And then the next I feel like its gonna fall flat on its face and it’s not gonna move. But I have to remind myself that even if does – that doesn’t mean I’ve failed. This body of work is ten years in the making. And the subject matter is really important to me. And the music, it’s my favourite that I’ve made ever.

What would you like to see the album do?

I’m talking about stuff that doesn’t get spoken about a lot. It’s starting to come about more now. The fear of growing up / getting older, all quite taboo subjects. I’d want it to initiate a conversation that its okay to feel those things. They can’t always be answered. But this is how I feel in this process. And people aren’t alone if they’re feeling these emotions. The lyrics are quite heavy – the music is quite light, and rnb.

Was it lyrics or music first on this album?

It was the concept more that came first – the fear of dying – how do you write a song about it without being morbidly depressing? Which is okay if that’s how you feel – but we got the concept first, and then we worked on the music, how it would make you feel in a pop and rnb setting. If we were to make classical music about fear of death – it would be dramatic, right? But how do you do that in a genre without it being a ballad? We wanted to keep it punchy, fierce, fresh.

I went down to London with the song concepts – with Yoad Nevo (Goldfrapp / Sia / Sugababes) – we’d do a song a day. And we’d start the beginning of those days asking the question – ‘what do we wanna talk about in this song?’. He’d then create the sounds around that idea, I’d be ‘yes or no, I like that, let’s move that’ etc.

Where were the concepts coming from?

I was really struggling to come up with a concept for the album, called up ROB GREEN – he’s an ideas kinda guy. Got him round my house, and he suggested this idea of pretending that it was a hypnotherapy process. Of having a spiral staircase, that goes down into a room, and the room is full of water. And every step that you take is another step of your fears. And with every ‘step’, I wrote a song to it. And once you reach the bottom – that really is the ultimate part of your fears.

I had to make it a little bit lighter towards the end, otherwise, everybody would be slitting their wrists. But it starts fresh and nice, and it gets a lot sadder as it goes on.

Going back – are there any really early musical memories that you can hear on the album?

Track number 3 – ‘Love Me Again‘. We made a load of beatbox sounds and chopped them up. And then we made almost a melody synth with my voice. And that is a reference to Justin Timberlake’s ‘Rock Your Body’.

Lyrics – some of them are really honest…

The song ‘Remember Me’ is about getting older, and dying.  I’m pretty sure that was a catalyst of an existential crisis I had.

I remember halfway through the song going outside for a cigarette and really just overthinking the idea of when you die, you don’t even know you’re gonna die. Where do you go. It’s completely out of your control. And then I really started to become aware of my mortality. And I got further into this thought process. Didn’t finish the song that day. Got home, and then it spiralled – I had to go and see someone. It was a really hard time.

Maybe I am scared of death – but I never really thought about it. A lot of people say that they’re not – but ultimately – we are in a sense. In that writing process, I found an obsession of not knowing the answer to something. It didn’t matter where I went, where I ran, you can’t run away from it and that scared the hell out of me. I finished the song. Didn’t listen to it for a very very long time. We made it a bit more poppy and fresh, cos before it was a lot slower and sad.

You can purchase the album HERE.

Yours in Love of New Music,
Team Nusic x

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