Across the pond there is a singer-songwriter named Nina Nesbitt and she is a force to be reckoned with. The Scotland native currently has over 144,000 Twitter followers and hasn’t even hit national stardom in the United States, yet. Now 19, Nina only picked up a guitar at the age of 15. It’s a good thing she took up playing the guitar because Ed Sheeran, through a chance meeting, asked Nina to play a song for him and, from that moment on, her career took off.
Sheeran took Nina on his European tour and Nesbian fans were born after being hooked on her upbeat, catchy tunes. He even featured her in his “Drunk” music video. Since, she has signed to Island Records, headlined two tours, released many EPs, released her debut album, Peroxide, in the UK and played at the recent South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas.
While climbing the ladder to her fame, Nina has already been receiving many honors in the music industry. In 2012, ITunes named her Singer/Songwriter New Artist of the year. Soon after releasing EPs Stay Out and Way In The World, Nesbitt was named Vevo’s Lift Artist of 2013. That same year, she won Most Stylish Musician at the 2013 Scottish Style Awards as well as Best Emerging Artist at the Scottish Music Awards. Not many musicians, aged 19, can say they have earned more than one award.
Not slowing down one bit, Nina is already writing for her next album and gearing up for more shows, one of which will be in New York City next month. She is also ready to give the States a Nina Nesbitt introduction with her first US release, the Nina Nesbitt EP, out April 1.
While taking a break from her busy performance schedule, Nina gave Starpulse an insight into her life and what is to come. With the success of Peroxide in the UK, she is sure to hit it big in the States. After reading through our Q&A, be sure to check out her music on her YouTube page. You won’t be disappointed by her witty charm.
Ok, so you’re only 19 and have over 140 thousand Twitter followers. That’s crazy. How does that feel and does get overwhelming thinking about how many people are watching your every move?
It’s quite strange. I’ve only released my first record and all these people have started to follow me. It’s a little bit surreal because you just kind of see it as a number. It’s quite scary but really exciting as well.
Speaking of social media, what was the inspiration to your song “Selfies?”
It’s more about walking along the street and seeing people taking selfies. It has become this massive thing and I thought it would be great to write a song about it. I thought it would be funny.
So is it safe to say that most of your inspiration comes from your life experiences or the people around you?
Yeah! Every song on the record, or song that I have put out, is either my experience or an experience of someone close to me. I try to write songs that I can relate to or that my friends can. I think if we can enjoy them than other people can, as well.
Have any of your friends been upset over something, you wrote, that related to them?
Well, maybe an ex boyfriend. I write nice songs about my friends because they are my friends. They are nice to me.
Let’s take this back a little bit. When did you know you wanted to pursue music as a career?
I don’t think it came to me like a moment. I’m more of a songwriter than a singer. Writing songs is my favorite thing to do. I never thought I’d be a singer. It [singing] is something I like doing.
How would you describe your sound and music?
My sound, at the moment, is a singer-songwriter with a bit of an edge. It is kind of acoustic and indie pop. It changes every day, to be honest. I don’t really like to be tied down to one genre. I always like to experiment and try to push myself into new sounds.
What artists have you collaborated with?
I’ve just collaborated with Kodaline, a band from the UK. They are my favorite people, ever. I was lucky enough to have them on my record for a track that I wrote, when I was really young, called “Hold You.” That was really, really exciting. Also, Lily Allen did a track for my record called “Mr C.” It was kind of a dream of mine, to collaborate with her, because she is a big inspiration to me.
The EP you are releasing soon, will it have the same vibe or sound as Peroxide?
I guess. I think it is a little more mature than the album. The EP is a good taste for everything. I think it will be a good way of introducing me and my music to people [in America].
Besides South By Southwest, have you played in the US before?
I played one headline tour before, in New York. It was absolutely crazy. It was sold out to 450 people. It doesn’t seem like a lot but it was a lot because I’ve never been. Some of those fans, there, helped me pick the EP tracks. That’ll come out on April 1st.
Will there be any US shows in the near future?
Yeah, I’m planning on it!
V Festival released their line up earlier today and Nina Nesbitt will perform at the festival that will run the weekend of August 16-17. Tickets will go on sale this coming Friday at 9am local time. Vfestival.com for more info.
I’ve uploaded 39 Photos of Nina arriving and leaving multiple Fashion Week Shows to the gallery.
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Americans Nina will be back in the states! She’ll be performing at this year’s SXSW. Information as follows.
Wednesday, March 12
Venue: LATITUDE 30
Set Time: 8:00PM – 8:40PM
Access: Music Badge, Platinum Badge, Music Festival Wristband, Artist Wristband
Saturday, March 15
Venue: 18TH FLOOR HILTON GARDEN INN
Set Time: 1:00AM – 1:50AM
Access: Music Badge, Platinum Badge, Music Festival Wristband, Artist Wristband
BY the time I meet Nina Nesbitt, I am a little bit in love with her.
This fact in itself makes me a Nesbian (that’s right, Nesbian); but her new single, Selfies, has also set up camp in my head – and it won’t leave. Kind of like the last guest at a party who outstays his welcome till 4am, except in a good way, Selfies is incredibly catchy. And Nesbitt, when I meet her before its release, comes off as astonishingly poised, in both senses of the word: a composed, self-assured young woman who appears to be on the brink of something big.
At only 19, Nesbitt has accrued over 133,000 Twitter followers; garnered an army of loyal fans (my fellow Nesbians); and clocked up more than 20 million YouTube hits since she began posting videos of her self-penned songs and chart covers as a teen growing up in Balerno, Edinburgh. She has also played some considerably large gigs – not least to a sold-out crowd in New York City last year, most of whom seemed to know the words to every song – all before releasing a debut album. The appropriately entitled Peroxide, named in part because of her face-framing blonde mane, is out this month.
In fact, her hair is the first thing I notice when I walk into the basement cafe where we’re meeting in Glasgow. She’s 5’8″ and very pretty, with big almond eyes emblazoned with lashings of liner and mascara. Until recently, I knew her best from her biggest hit to date, the infectious Stay Out. But I now have Radio 1 to thank for my current earworm. I tell her this as we sit down for a chat – that I love Selfies.
“Aw, thank you,” she smiles. “It’s a bit of a departure from what I’ve done before. I don’t want to be a folk singer-songwriter. I get bored sticking to one genre, so I wanted to do something a bit different.”
If by that Nesbitt means a song that is undiluted delicious pop, she has succeeded. A break-up song for its time, Nesbitt sings about a boy who has dumped her and how she is posting happy selfies (hand-held self-portrait photographs) to pretend all is well. It is not to be dismissed as a vacuous teen tune trying to shamelessly tap into the word of the moment; Selfies is sharp. And that’s down to Nesbitt’s talent for songwriting. While some tracks on the album – like the foot-stomping Mr C – are reminiscent of Amy Macdonald, Selfies’s shameless likeability is more akin to Taylor Swift. Nesbitt’s lyrics speak sassily and smartly to her demographic – mainly teenage girls, for now – but then The Hardest Part, her favourite track, comes out of nowhere as the finale, achingly mature in its sentiments and depth, and beautiful in its paired-down simplicity.
“It’s always been more about the words than the music,” Nesbitt explains, her voice rising with this last word in typical teenage inflection. “I said the other day that when I was making the album, I wanted to create a story instead of a sound. My strength is lyrics. It’s what I’m naturally more inclined to do so I don’t really have a genre or a style.”
She throws these latter words off her tongue like they’re negative. But she’s right: it is hard to pigeonhole her. She herself is inspired by such opposites as Taylor Swift and Debbie Harry; and, early on, realising she wanted to do more than pop, decided against The X-Factor route. Now, on the verge of her album’s release, Nesbitt says she’s feeling good, but nervous. She didn’t want to rush Peroxide – she enlisted the help of producer Jake Gosling (Paloma Faith, Ed Sheeran) – and it shows.
“I try not to think about it too much. I keep listening to it in the car and thinking, ‘Is it good, is it not?’ But I’m really pleased with it. You look at other artists and they’ve all had [a particular] hit and then they have the album out. And I don’t class myself as having a hit. I’d rather make a body of work and put it out than just have a one-hit wonder.”
Nor does she see herself as being on the verge of a moment. “I don’t think about it. It’s been such a gradual thing for me that it’s never been like an overnight X-Factor thing. I don’t want to expect anything because I don’t want to be disappointed, but my ambition is to hopefully play to as many people as possible and tour around the world.”
Nesbitt is down to earth, yet determined to shoot for the stars; modest, but overwhelmingly ambitious. An only child from a non-musical family whose parents did “normal jobs”, she has her pragmatic and cynical Scottish father to thank for keeping grounded, her Swedish mother for urging her to follow her dreams rather than the more predictable university path. Both, she says, have been incredibly supportive. Her mother lives part-time with her in London.
As a child, she liked to write stories. “I picked up a keyboard at 10 and I played little chords and put the stories to songs,” she recalls. But it wasn’t until she picked up a guitar at 15 that everything gelled. Self-taught, she decided she wanted to become a singer. Until then, university was the plan; but then she started posting on YouTube – and the views kept clocking up. She smiles remembering this like it was so long ago and says: “I thought, ‘I’m from Balerno, it’s not like I’m from London. No-one’s ever going to find me.’ Then it grew really slowly. It’s been one thing after another.”
But the big break was arguably from Ed Sheeran. The pair were linked as a couple in the past – much to Nesbitt’s annoyance – although neither has ever confirmed it. If her song The Hardest Part – about the bittersweet sadness of a relationship that cannot be – is about Sheeran, I’m certainly not going to ask Nesbitt today. The only glimpse I get that there could be history between the two is when I mention his name: her eyes instantly fall to her lap. But Nesbitt’s love life doesn’t interest me. I want to know if the story about how Sheeran discovered her at 16 is really true.
“Yeah,” she confirms, with possible relief. “My friend worked at the radio and she was like, ‘Come and see this guy’ and I was like, ok. I loved his music …” He asked her to play a tune for him just moments after they met, in public, in an upstairs bar in Edinburgh. “Then I started to tour with him. It was random but good exposure.”
Prior to that, she would play at Edinburgh’s Electric Circus some weekends. “I’d have, like, a little sheet of paper with me and my guitar, and I’d look down and not talk to anyone,” she recalls.
Nesbitt caught chart-topping musician Example’s attention after Sheeran showed him a video of her doing a cover of one of his songs. He tweeted it to all his followers,and a tour soon followed. “Getting the opportunity to support Example on an arena tour, just me and my guitar in front of all these ravers – you move out of your comfort zone and learn how to play to a crowd. It was like a fast track to confidence.”
So where does she see herself in five years? “I’m nowhere near where I want to end up at the moment,” she says sweetly, but with a grin. She’d like to break America, do something in fashion, maybe a bit of acting. “I’m one of those people that are never fully contented. I always want the next thing. If it’s the Usher Hall, I want two nights at the Usher Hall. I always want more. That’s probably not great but at the same time it is why the ambition is there – because I just want to be as big as I can be.”
Peroxide is released on February 17 on Island Records. Nina Nesbitt plays the Usher Hall, Edinburgh on March 23
Source: Herald Scotland
If she’d known about the photographer in the bushes, Nina Nesbitt would have worn a matching bikini. “To have a paparazzi take your picture while you are on holidays is strange and invasive,” says the 19-year-old, her Edinburgh tones practically humming with disdain.
“I was on a private break – hadn’t told anybody where I was going. Then, I turn on Twitter and everyone’s saying, ‘you’re in the paper – in your bikini!’ To say I was shocked is an understatement. I mean, my top and bottom weren’t even the same colour!”
A friend and touring partner of ginger sexpot Ed Sheeran, Nesbitt knows a few things about tabloid celebrity, the ways it can turn your world upside down (inevitably she and Sheeran were ‘romantically linked’ after going on the road together).
“It was creepy,” she says. “At least the photographer didn’t disturb me. If he had asked, I don’t think I would have been up for it, in all honesty. I was supposed to be having a holiday!”
As her run in with the mystery snapper last November attests, these are busy times for Nesbitt. There’s the Ed Sheeran connection of course, a friendship that has introduced her to thousands of teenage fans. She’s toured with chav fave Example, co-written with Snow Patrol BFF Iain Archer and on her forthcoming debut LP, Peroxide, duets with dewy eyed Dubliners Kodaline. Her record company suspects it may have stumbled on the next big talent in acoustic pop. It could well be right.
“I’m definitely ambitious,” says Nesbitt. “I’ve supported Ed and Example and I would love to be at their level. I’m the sort who is never content. I constantly feel the need to do better – that’s what drives me. I would love to tour the world, play to as many people as possible. You see that success up close and you crave some of it for yourself.”