Shouting With... Nina Nesbitt

by Kyle McCormick
Kyle McCormick
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on 22 February 2016 in Features

This interview was conducted in a bowling alley, during a game of bowling, how awesome / inconvenient is that? Despite the noise, and the defeat (the final score was 110–86–84 to Nina, tour manager Alan, and myself respectively), an interesting and insightful conversation was had. What follows is the effective crowning jewel of Shout4Music’s run of Nina Nesbitt coverage: comprised of a BuzzFeed-style teaser, a live review, an EP review, and this interview feature. I hope you enjoy it.

In retrospect, 2012's Peroxide seems to have signalled the end of an era for Edinburgh-born, singer-songwriter Nina Nesbitt. Leaving behind the string of endearing EPs (including Boy and The Apple Tree) that paved the way to a #1 (in Scotland, #11 in the UK) début album, the associated charming artist persona, as well as her legions of adoring Nesbians, Nesbitt temporarily disappeared from the public and musical stage... In 2016, she has returned with an altered image and musical direction, resulting from a transformation that is hard not to compare to Taylor Swift (i.e. acoustic guitar sweetheart turned synth-pop queen), and brings a taste of things of come in the form of an EP entitled Modern LoveDespite retaining the relatability and intelligence of her previous music, preceding single 'Chewing Gum' possesses greater maturity in addition to undeniable pop anthem credentials. The track is focussed around the promiscuous nature of social circles, inspired by her own friends (portrayed in the official video by actors), and is equally enticing and brooding as it progresses with appropriately alluring vocal delivery throughout. Whilst this change of style and image has certainly been a success judging by the reception of the Modern Love EP and the tour that accompanied it (read this glowing Daily Record write-up for example), what inspired it? The answer seems to come in two parts: a lack of interest in the old, and a fascination with the new. 

"I just didn't feel inspired by that type of music and I just wanted to try new stuff," sums up Nesbitt simply between frames of ten-pin bowling, indicating that following the release of Peroxide, the change that would culminate with Modern Love was already under way. Additionally, the fact that "you do so much growing up" during your teenage years and early 20s, which Nesbitt's career has dominated, means that this personal change also naturally influenced her musical style and approach. If those are the "push factors" however, what are the complimentary "pull factors"? "I would say living in London is really inspiring," notes Nesbitt, a move which was both required and facilitated by her developing music career, helping realise a personal ambition and increase all-important networks simultaneously, as well as improving proximity to Island Records HQ. The diversity and motivation of the people of London was particularly inspiring, as well as the electric nightlife, both of which have undoubtedly had a hand in guiding the style and content of Modern Love and whatever will follow. Musically, Swift is of course an idol, with duration of Nesbitt's fandom being pleasantly highlighted by the tracks 'Fifteen' and '22'. More generally, musical inspiration comes from "a lot of '80s sounds" and "empowering female songwriters", such as Kim Wilde and Debbie Harry, mixed with a general pop vibe. These influences are evident Modern Love which contains an abundance of confidence between the energy of 'Chewing Gum', and the half-tender, half-soaring nature of 'Masquerade' and 'Take You To Heaven', drawing on a history of London exuberance and authoritative female artists.

Despite the logistical positives and evident musical inspirations of living in London, the ease of access to studio space has been undermined by the creation of Nesbitt's own bedroom studio, entitled Niightwatch Studios. This convenience has made it easier for the songstress to find and hone her sound, through the virtue of being able to "just make" any music which enters her mind, rather than trying tediously to convey ideas through words. Which is particularly helpful when it comes to explaining songs about boys and partying to older gentleman in label-organised writing sessions. On the Modern Love EP are two tracks have been crafted in this space, and are subsequently labelled as "Niightwatch Demo", an acoustic version of 'Chewing Gum' and 'Masquerade', the latter of which may therefore receive an updated, "final" version as part of a later release. An additional benefit of a personal studio is the opportunity it provides in personal and guilt-free songwriting. "I don't really worry about what people think about me when I write lyrics in my own room," explains Nesbitt before rushing off to the next stop on the Promotional Day Journey, which in turn helps continue the theme of honesty that has always laced her music. Having expertly transitioned to the category of pop star, and moved physically to the excitement of London, what's next for Nina Nesbitt?

Following the Modern Love EP, and mini-tour, Nesbitt will return to the live stage for a second mini-tour this May, before hitting the festival circuit, releasing an album she "wants to get out in the autumn", before hitting the road again for a presumably bigger promotional tour in October or November. Details on LP2 are sparse at the moment, but there are currently "fifteen songs" in the works, although continuous writing means that this set it likely to alter and fluctuate as time progresses. However, if the quality of Modern Love is to be taken as a baseline, 2016 is bound to be an enthralling year for Nesbitt and her Nesbians, both existing and yet to be converted, regardless. Whilst it was expected that some long-term fans may be alienated by the new style, Nesbitt is "really thankful that they've been so embracing of it", as the response has been overwhelmingly positive. Looking ahead to this year and beyond, whilst making specific note of her humble nature, Nesbitt highlights that the power of ambition is not to be underestimated in the music industry, and if she does apply "that drive to do it" with her obvious musical talent, why shouldn't she follow in the record-smashing footsteps of idol Ms Swift?

Now that you're educated in the specifics of the Modern Love EP, you can get it on iTunes right now, if you like. That upcoming tour is now on sale, and you can get tickets from Live Nation now (although the Glasgow date is missing). You can keep up to date with Nina Nesbitt on Facebook and Twitter, again, if you like. I'm not going to make you do anything, I'll just lightly hit at what I think would be the best course of action. 

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