With two singles, “Somebody Special” and “Psychopath,” recently released, her upcoming album completed and a North American tour scheduled, Nina Nesbitt is in for a busy year. We spoke to the Scottish singer about her small town roots, the evolution of her music and upcoming projects. Read on for our exclusive interview and photo shoot!
Untitled: How did you originally get into music?
Nina: I started out by writing short stories and poems as a kid. Then I picked up piano at 10 and put my words to music. At 15, I picked up guitar and that’s when I properly starting getting into [music] as a career. I uploaded videos of me singing my songs onto Youtube and it just went from there.
You are from a small village outside Edinburgh, Scotland. What do you miss most about it when you are away? How has your hometown influenced your songwriting?
I moved to London when I was 17 so I don’t get back as much as I’d like, but I definitely miss Scotland a lot! It was such a nice place to grow up; I feel like it’s a really grounded place and lets you have a proper childhood unlike a big city. I was always surrounded by folk music and lots of buskers in Edinburgh so I think that influenced my writing in the beginning. Being from a small village definitely made me write about normal life and I’ve kept that [theme] in my songs no matter where I’ve gone.
Who are your biggest influences?
Any artist who really puts their personality into their work. I love Alanis Morissette lyrically; she just goes for it. I was inspired by Taylor Swift to pick up a guitar and write my own songs, so she’s definitely an influence. I also love recent R&B like Kehlani, Bryson Tiller and SZA—I love how you get to know them through their music.
You write and produce your own music. How do you think your musical style has evolved over the years, and how would you describe your style now?
I’ve grown up and my music has too. I’d say my style now is a combination of all the things I love about music. It’s pop choruses with slight tinges of R&B melodies and story telling lyrics. It’s pretty stripped back, too. I always like to let the vocals lead.
You recently released a new single, “Somebody Special.” What inspired the track?
That song was written about getting back with my ex-boyfriend, who is now my boyfriend again. It’s about that feeling you get when you first start falling for someone, how even the most mundane things feel exciting. We would go on trips to Asda and Walmart late at night and wander around buying sweets, and it felt like the most special thing!
It’s done and it’s coming! It’s a real journey from start to finish. I’m really proud of it and it’ll be my international debut record which is exciting. I’m already getting to go to a lot of cool places with the first couple singles.
If you could collaborate with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?
Michael Jackson, because he is the king.
You’ve attended the Women in the World Summit. What causes are you most passionate about? Do you have any favorite charities or organizations?
I got asked to speak at the Summit about body image and provide a young woman’s perspective on it. It was an amazing experience. I love supporting things that I’m passionate about, and causes that I know enough about to help younger people get involved. Body image is definitely something I like to discuss because I think we are living in a crazy time of social media.
Being a widely followed musician, how do you navigate between the public and private realms?
I like to be as open as I can. My music is, so I feel like I should be open as a person, too. There’s obviously some things that I keep to myself but I try and share the good and the bad as much as I can. That’s what I like [to see] from artists, so I try to do it myself.
You will be touring the US this spring with Jake Bugg. What are you looking forward to most in regards to your North American tour?
I can’t wait! I’ve never toured America before so I’m very excited to see it all. There are so many places I’d never think of going. I know there are people who have been listening to my music for almost 6 years who will be coming to see me for the first time, so I’m hoping to play songs old and new on the headline tour.
I just actually released a new project with Spotify. It’s part of Spotify’s first-ever collaborative singles session release. I wrote a song for it with Sasha Sloan and Charlotte Lawrence, who are both incredible artists, and the song is called “Psychopath.” They just put up billboards [for it] in Times Square and on Sunset Boulevard, which was pretty wild.
See Nina’s North American tour dates below:
04/12 – Deluxe @ Old National Center – Indianapolis, IN
04/13 – Beat Kitchen – Chicago, IL
04/14 – House Of Blues, Cambridge Room – Cleveland, OH
04/16 – Bogart’s – Cincinnati, OH
04/17 – Eddie’s Attic – Decatur, GA
04/18 – Mercy Lounge – Nashville, TN
04/19 – Visulite Theatre – Charlotte, NC
04/23 – Club Café – Pittsburgh, PA
04/24 – DC9 – Washington, DC
04/25 – Baby’s All Right – Brooklyn, NY
04/26 – Space Ballroom – Hamden, CT
04/29 – Town Ballroom – Buffalo, NY
04/30 – Great Scott – Allston, MA
05/01 – World Café Live – Philadelphia, PA
06/22 – 93.3 FLZ’s Summer Jump Off – Tampa, FL
Photography Daniela Federici
Stylist Mindy Saad
Stylist Assistants Melissa Mitchell, Khalila White
Makeup Roberto Morelli using Dior
Hair Pierra Lortie