Interview: Nina Nesbitt On Her New LP, blackbear Collab & Future Plans
Nina Nesbitt’s elaborately-titled sophomore LP, The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change, began as a passion project in her home studio. After a while, the 24-year-old realized she was onto something and decided to share a couple of songs. The response was swift and spectacular. “The Best You Had” raced to 50 million streams on Spotify (and ended up on Taylor Swift’s favorite songs playlist), while “Somebody Special” and “Loyal To Me” generated similar heat on streaming services.
I recently chatted with the Scottish singer/songwriter, who is currently on a headline tour of North America (get tickets here), about her very good new album and her evolution as an artist since debuting with Peroxide way back in 2014. Other topics of conversation included Nina’s upcoming collaboration with blackbear, her favorite video to date and the direction of her next project. Get to know the rising star a little better in our Q&A below.
Do you like being on the road?
Yeah, I love being on the road. There were a lot of split tours in America last year, so this is the first proper headline tour. And we’re apprehensive, yet very excited.
Definitely. I think when I started my first album, I was 17 or 18, so I guess I was basically a child. I think with this album, I’m a woman now. And I think you naturally go through different changes in life from being 17 to 24. I don’t know anyone who’s the same person as they were when they were that age, it’s just like a natural progression and I just matured.
Did the break between albums give you time to get some real-life experiences?
Yeah. In between albums, I was living in London. I moved from Scotland, that’s a huge change. I had different experiences and met different kinds of people. I was definitely inspired by that. I feel like when you grow up in a small town, a lot of the time, people already have their lives planned out. So yeah, it was a very liberating time.
The album seems to have come together really organically. You’ve had all these just go viral on their own.
This album was a passion project, that I would get home from working during the day and I would sit in my home studio. And then, as time went by, I was like, ‘I actually have an album!’ So I decided to give that a go. So, for me, it was almost a form of therapy, it’s literally just music that I made for my own enjoyment. When I put the first couple of songs out I was like, ‘Well, it’d be nice to get a few streams. And then, next thing I know, one of the songs had 50 million. It was crazy. More than anything I ever imagined.
Streaming levels the playing field a little bit. If you’ve got a really good song, people can find that.
Exactly. I think it’s exciting because it pushes you harder to write a great song. Even for established artists, it has to be really good now because people have so many other options.
What does it feel like when artists of Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran’s caliber support your songs?
The Taylor Swift thing was pretty surreal. That was like a childhood dream. Obviously, I listened to her growing up and I admire her as a woman in the industry. I think it’s cool that you’re inspired by somebody and then they sort of give you their seal of approval.
It also exposes your music to a whole new audience.
Yeah, definitely. I want to reach new listeners as well. That’s why I have some cool featured collaborations coming up as well. It’s easier now with streaming. I think it’s exciting.
Who are you working with?
I have a song coming with blackbear. He’s a huge artist, I would say in the dark-pop scene. He has also collaborated with a lot of hip-hop artists. He’s huge on Spotify. I went to see him at Red Rocks in Denver and absolutely love it. I have a feature coming out on one of his songs. I’m excited for new fans to hear my music.
The video for “Is it Really Me You’re Missing” premiered recently. Is that your next official single?
We’re deciding what the next thing is now. “The Best You Had” is going to [US] radio while I’m on tour here. Because that seems to be the one that people are streaming. In the UK, I think that “Love Letter” is gonna be the next single. That’s had a great reaction. I think that one will definitely be out in time for the spring, summer festivals. So, it really depends on the market.
You’re really carving out a niche as a visual artist. How important is the visual element to you?
It’s essential these days. Art was one of my favorite subjects in school, and I spent a lot of time on Pinterest just looking through images to get inspired. And then I met Debbie Scanlan, who has directed my videos. I would come up with new ideas and then I would talk to her and be like, “How do we make this work on video?” It’s really hard to find someone that gets you like that. I always want to do something interesting. You have to sort of create something that people are hopefully going to want to watch.
What’s your favorite video so far?
I would say my favorite is probably the “Colder” video. Just because that sort of brings the album artwork to life. It’s not my favorite song on the album, but visually, I think it just came out exactly how I had it in my head. I watched the Gucci Bloom advert, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it’s a bunch of actresses and models in water covered with flowers. That really inspired me.
Speaking of “Colder,” I know you worked with Fraser T Smith on that. What was he like to work with?
I got the chance to work with Fraser T Smith at the end of the recording sessions for my album. He produced “Loyal To Me” and “Colder,” and then we wrote “Love Letter” together. And he just has such clear insight, he just knows everything, and he’s just a great guy to work with because I feel like he really sort of lets you do your thing. He’s always open to learning new things, which is why he’s done so well for so long. And yeah, he’s got stacks of experience and knowledge, and that was really inspiring.
One last question. Have you already started thinking about your next album?
I have! I have already thought about what visuals I want to do for it. I feel like that’s going to be a good place to start. So, I have a rough idea of what I want to do, but I’m still trying to decide how I want to put it out because I don’t know if I’m going to do another album or if I’m going to do two halves at different times, so I’m still planning all that.
Can’t wait to hear it. Thanks for your time!