Nina Nesbitt: "When I heard Taylor Swift was writing her own songs on her guitar it inspired me to write my own".
Tonya Antoniou | 27/09/2021
Scottish and Swedish singer/songwriter Nina Nesbitt, returns with her song “Summer Fling”, evoking a mixture of a 80s Synths soundscape and ABBA vibes. The song is written and produced by Nina and is accompanied by a video showing off her background in gymnastics, with a nostalgic summer of love backdrop. The song is a tribute to the archetypal summer romance that we can all relate to. Along with the new single Nina is gaining worldwide recognition with her own take of the classic Beatles track “All you Need is Love” featured in the Tiffany perfume Rose Gold campaign. I caught up with Nina to discuss her new music, TikTok and how she maintains her mental wellbeing. In an industry dominated by males, Nina spoke about how important it is for her to have written and produced Summer Fling and what it’s taken for her to gain autonomy in her career.
“When I started singing as a kid, I was obsessed with female pop stars, like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, when I looked into it it was a lot of males writing the songs, who are obviously very talented but it made me think that men write the songs and women sing. When at 15 I heard Taylor Swift was writing her own songs, like “Love Story” on her guitar, it really inspired me to write my own songs because I always felt naturally more a writer than a singer. So I started doing that and I’ve always written my own songs, but the production thing came a little bit later. I wanted to produce as I love writing and recording, it’s what I naturally go towards most. I remember hearing the Weekend when he was on YouTube with “Wicked Games” and “High for This”, and hearing the sound of it and thinking, I’ve never heard anything like this before, this production is amazing. I wanted to learn how to make music like that. I was really inspired by the sounds and how you can take a song that works on piano and guitar and it sounds completely different and more exciting. I got a little laptop and logic after hearing that, I was about 17. So I’ve been learning production for a while, but I’m someone who learns on the job. I’m not a person who would sit down and watch YouTube videos; I tend to learn by my mistakes. It’s taken a long time, but I feel like lockdown pushed me to stop hiding behind all the incredible people I work with. It can be quite daunting when everyone you work with is so good. At the end of the day, I want the quality to be as good as that, if not I don’t want to do it. I love collaborating but I’m not one of those people where everything needs to be done by me. I recognise my own weaknesses and strengths. I love production, I thin the only way I’m going to get better is to just do it. The last album, on the first single, I produced some of that as well. I do the first song for each album. Like here is a little production, then obviously, there’ll be loads of tracks on the album that I’ve done with producers.”
We discussed how her music has evolved since Peroxide and how she feels she has developed as an artist since.
“It’s evolved a lot. I was 17/18 when I wrote Peroxide, I was very young and didn’t really know who I was and still experimenting. I think you can hear that on the album. But I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. It just showed where I was at that time. The last album The Sun Will Come Up really was the album I’ve always wanted to make. I was really pleased with how it all came together. I felt creatively it satisfied what I wanted to do. Writing for other people started in between Peroxide, I think that really helped me develop my songwriting in terms of melodies. I think the melodies are a lot stronger on The Sun Will Come Up than on Peroxide. When I was writing that first album, I didn’t even think about melody, I just wrote lyrics to fit into the music. Whereas when I started writing for other people and writing with other writers, it dawned on me, everyone thinks melody first. I think I’ve worked on my songwriting craft a lot more, but there is something nice about the first songs anyone writes and how not over thought they are.
I asked if Nina felt that she had benefitted from taking a break from performing and writing for other artists.
“I think it was quite conflicted. I absolutely loved, loved writing. Like 24/7, it was my only thing, I loved it. I think I would like to do that in the future permanently. I feel most comfortable there. I was actually very happy. I think it takes a lot of the pressure off. There’s a lot of pressure being an artist, especially these days, there’s so many people doing it, I don’t envy new artists these days. I think it must be really difficult to get started. I really enjoyed writing for other people but there was definitely a part of me, where I wrote some songs and thought I can’t give this away, this feels like my childhood. Songs like “Is It Really Me You’re Missing”, I really wanted to keep that, as well as “The Best You Had”.” Personally I find writing very emotive and I wanted to understand how Nina deals with this and if she has to be in a different headspace when writing for other artists. “When I write my stuff, I don’t really choose to write it, if that makes sense. I may be having a crisis of some sort, or I’m feeling something and it just comes, I don’t really think about it, it’s a pure thing. However for a pitch song I go into the session, it’s planned, you sit down to write the song more technically by kind of writing the melodies first. You write it differently but it all depends. I guess any single I’ve written, it’s just happened kind of by accident.” Having read other interviews where she has spoken about sexism within the industry I was inquisitive to know who she’d include in an all-female lineup for a festival and what she’d name the festival.
“I’d name the festival Nesbitch City. I’d have Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, Lana Del Rey, Arlo Parks, and Halsey, I love her and I’ve only listened to three songs but I love the whole concept of the new album. But also Lady Gaga, there’s so many artists, Charli XCX, King Princess, there’s so many. I like all these people, because I feel like they’ve created their own worlds and they’re just doing them. They’ve got their own thing going on. You can tell it’s coming from them. You know, they’re writing their music, they’re putting their songs out; they’re creating the visuals to creating the community. I love that about all those artists.” I really loved the song “Long Run” that she featured on with Deacon Phillipe, and asked if she has any future collaborations in the pipeline. I also wanted to know if at any point she was star stuck when Reese Witherspoon created the Tik Tok dance to the track.
“Definitely, Reese is obviously an icon. She’s been really supportive online, with the song and posting stuff, which is really sweet of her. It’s still, weird, because I haven’t met Deacon in real life. So the whole thing feels quite surreal. He’s really talented as well, so it’s really good to be part of his first release. I’ve been focused on finishing my album at the moment, but I have one collaboration coming out in Autumn that I really like.” I have become a fan of Nina’s Tik Tok videos they are extremely entertaining and hilarious and wondered how she comes up with the content.
“I was really bored in lockdown to be honest. I thought what can I do right now, I can’t go on tour, I can’t really do promo, I can’t go to the studio. So I’m just going to start a Ted Talk and have a laugh online. I didn’t expect them to get so many views, now when I speak to people, they say “you’re the girl off Tik Tok” and I’m like Oh God. But it’s been good for getting new listeners and stuff, it began with trying to make people laugh, and make myself laugh. Last year was really depressing for everyone, so it was something to keep me focused. I started getting all sorts of offers, brands wanting me to do things such as posting crisps. I was like, I need to stop now, but it’s a funny, weird little world and I do really enjoy doing it. It’s kind of hard though, because I’m getting busier and it’s more difficult to come up with content because before I had all day every day, but I’m sure there will be more coming soon.”
"The guy that answered wasn't the voice of the person I thought it was. It turns out it was a 40 year old guy I'd met in a club years ago"
Having been catfished myself, my favourite video she created is the Catfish Investigators. I was curious to know if Nina’s ever been catfished?
“I was texting a person, I thought was an artist that I knew for four months, but not in a relationship way, he’s married with kids, so I didn’t think it was weird. I thought we were going to collaborate. Then it started getting a little bit weird. I was like, why don’t just come down to the studio to write a song? But, he got a little bit flirty and I thought this isn’t right. I felt uncomfortable so I asked the guy I was in the studio with if he had the number of this artist as he knew him. The number didn’t match the one I’d been messaging, so I phoned the number and the guy that answered wasn’t the voice of the person I thought it was. It turns out it was a 40 year old guy I’d met in a club years ago, through a mutual friend.”
“Summer Fling” transports the listener to a happy place, apart from music I asked her what else helps her maintain a positive outlook and enhances her mental well-being. “I think going out sounds really simple, but just going for walks in nature or going to the beach. I feel like I’m still trying to figure out what helps my anxiety when it’s something situational, or it’s kind of hard to speak about. So, if I’m having a bad day, I go out for a walk, I don’t sit in bed all day, because that’s not good for anyone, and I try and eat well as you feel better when you’re eating healthier. My essential oils are very helpful for sleeping. I also found a therapist that I work well with which has been really good. It’s healthy to talk about your feelings so that has been helpful for me.” I quizzed her on when we should expect the third album and what other projects she is involved in for our readers to look out for.
“The album will be next year so I’m finishing it off at the moment, I have a new single coming out on the 24th of September, which I did with the production duo Jack and Coke. They’re a really good Swedish production duo. The song is called “Life’s A Bitch”. So I’m excited for everyone to hear that. It’s quite different to what I’ve done before.” In an era where many artists have an alter ego it was refreshing that Nina came across as authentic and no different to her online presence. She had her first record deal at 17 and has come a long way in her career, so it was nice to see that Nina has maintained a charismatic and relaxed outlook and ways to cope in the industry. We can’t wait for the album release and her future projects but in the meantime we can extend that summer feeling by listening to “Summer Fling”.