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Mia Caven | 29/03/2024

I had the pleasure of speaking to Nell Mescal, a rising star in the indie-verse. With her debut EP, Can I Miss It For A Minute? coming out, we discussed the emotional toll it can take with the pressure of thousands waiting for your creations, her experiences supporting the likes of Florence the Machine, and more.


MIA: You have released two singles so far this year. How did those releases feel for you? 


NELL: Scary. With the first one, we had just written the song. So, it was probably the quickest turnaround. I remember thinking am I even gonna like this in a month? But I love it so much. So I'm very happy. I feel it was interesting to release another song literally the same week, a year from the first kind of release I did. It was full of energy. I wanted to encapsulate that again going into this year, but with a more mature edge. I got that with "Killing Time", which was such a relief. And then, with "Warm Body", I was absolutely terrified. It's probably what I know; everyone is always saying this is my most personal or whatever. But I do think we're embodying that so much.  


MIA: So obviously, this is prep for your debut EP. How are you feeling about that happening? 


NELL: It's so strange to have a project that you've worked really hard on it. Last year, I released a lot of music, but I think it was mostly for the sake of playing. But going away and actually putting together a project, that’s my baby; I care so much about her. Emotionally, I'm tying up those loose ends of my life and being able to put that away and put a bow on it before saying ‘It's yours now’. 


MIA: Literally, the next thing I was gonna say is, I know, from speaking to loads of musicians, a lot emotionally goes into making music. So, do you feel it sometimes takes a positive or negative toll on you when writing music? Is there a process that's just a bit tiring? Or really healthy for you?  


NELL: I think it's always a little bit different. But there'll definitely be some songs that I'm writing that I'm so sad about writing. Oh, my God. And then, give it a few days, or a few weeks or time away from them before thinking, ‘Oh, I'm so glad I said it’, even if it was hard, especially because I don't really filter things, obviously I try to be considerate and careful. Because a lot of my songs are about other people, and so the most I filter out is when I'm trying to be considerate of people that I'm writing about, even if I'm writing about something bad that they did. Because the songs are going to be there forever. And I don't know, I think you have to be careful with other people's feelings, even if they weren't careful with yours. So, I think when I'm writing without a filter, it can be really difficult. And I have no privacy. But I do think it's important. Any emotion is. But also, as soon as I release a song, obviously, I'm scared the first day, and then it's so fine - other people have written about scarier things or whatever.  


MIA: So you perform a lot; as you mentioned, what is your favourite thing about performing? 


NELL: Just being in a room with people who really care or trying to win over a crowd, like at a festival when no one really knows who you are. It's a thrill like no other. It's exciting. But I have that connection with the people that come to my shows. Usually, when I'm not on a shoot, I usually have all these bracelets they give me, and I love that aspect of it. Meeting people after shows is so important to me. I'm afraid to get to a point where I can't do that because it's so lovely. And I really do appreciate anything that, getting to meet as many people that want to meet me. It's iconic. It's my favourite. 


MIA: You've gone to loads of festivals and performed at festivals. You've even supported Florence & The Machine. Those are massive accomplishments, how were those experiences for you? 


NELL: You are so out of body supporting Florence or Dermot Kennedy, which was back-to-back-to-back. I can't explain what that week was like. There's so much adrenaline. You're so excited but you're also nervous. I do think that the nerves were completely overtaken by the adrenaline of it all. I couldn't believe it. I was so excited for my band and for my family to be there. It was so fun and so exciting. I get emotional, but I think the shows always come at a time when I needed something. 


MIA: It's quite a broad question. But what would you say is your favourite experience so far in your music journey? 


NELL: I think every single show. There's been a handful of shows where it's been stressful, or I've been in my head, and I haven't enjoyed that. I've been playing my whole life. I've been singing in choirs but actually being an artist… As soon as I tried my first tour, I remember thinking this has to happen.  


MIA: I mean, music is such an emotional thing for most people, whether they're making it or listening to it, what is it that you want people to mostly take away from your music? I know you said you write a lot about what about people or what people have done to you? What is it that you want people to listen to that and think about or feel? 


NELL: I think there's always some sort of thing that is resembling hope. I hope that all my songs are prophetic in some way. But with every single song, there's something, whether it's a guitar line that feels fresh air or something, even with the dark stuff, "Warm Body", which is quite dark for me. But there are some things that I pop in that brings it up. There's a line in it about my best friend, Emily, telling me to breathe. It’s nice listening to sad songs and feeling sad with them, but there's something even better about feeling so sad and then just the feeling, oh my god, it's actually okay. In all of these situations, it's essentially my experience but not a solo experience. 


MIA: That process from there to here has been huge. It's been an upwards trajectory. What would you say that has been something that's been scary in terms of handling being an uprising artist? 


NELL: There are definitely weeks where you are a little bit more stressed out. Or are there times when everything happens all at once? It's definitely overwhelming. I think that it's so fun getting to do it, even today. I wouldn't have ever thought I would ever do this as I was quite self-conscious. I can get stressed, but more often than not, I tend to my inner child. 


MIA: If there's one thing you want to achieve with your music, what would you like to achieve? 


 NELL: I think I want to be doing it forever. I want to do it for as long as possible. So longevity. As long as I get to play, I want to keep going and bring as many people on the journey. What excites me about getting the EP out is that I don't want to have to write about this forever. It's been a part of my life that I've been really sad for, but I'm also really grateful for getting to finish it and put it away. There's other stuff I want to write about, so getting to put that away, I can move on around it. There are some things I don't want to write about yet. I'm sure I'll find a way to write one day. It's weird that I will try to write a song about something, and my brain says, no, not today. I've been writing a lot of love songs recently. I'm not in love. It's just interesting. Before, if I had tried to do that, it wouldn't have worked. 


MIA: What would you say to people who struggle, who listen to you and who love music? What would your message be for them? 


NELL: Every time I get asked something I think how do I say it without being cringy? To feel your feelings? It's great to listen to sad music and really feel it or understand why you're feeling it and knowing the song is going to end. There's a movie that I actually think everyone should watch. And this is my advice for everyone. Watch Perfect Days. 


[For a moment, we both talked about how much we loved that movie and shared how we truly both think people need to watch it.]


NELL: And hug trees. 


MIA: So finally, aside from your EP and the gigs that you have coming up, what are you looking forward to most with music future? 


NELL: I think it's just reaching people. It's hard to look past the EP right now. Because it's my thing. I just can't wait for people to hear it. This is my base. My foundation. I'd like to have the ability to build on it. I'm excited for people to see that.


Nell’s EP, Can I Miss It For A Minute, is out 3rd May


Words Mia Caven

HATC Creative Alice Gee

Photography Betty Oxlade-Martin

Styling Elodie Purcell

MUA Rebecca Robinson

Hair Stylist Evelyn Davies






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