Images and Video by Jan-Willem Dikkers
"I started writing poems and short stories,
and then at the age of 10,
I picked up the piano and started putting the stories to songs."
— Nina Nesbitt
Nina Nesbitt is a Scottish singer-songwriter and musician who has released one album, Peroxide (2014), and three EPs. She is most well known for her 2017 single “The Best You Had” and is set to release her second album with Island Records early next year.
Jake Bugg is an English indie rock singer and songwriter who has released four albums: Jake Bugg (2012), Shangri-La (2013), On My One (2016), and Hearts That Strain (2017).
Originally from a small village just outside Edinburgh, Nina Nesbitt’s confessional songwriting and unique pop sound has developed quite a following. She recently wrapped a North American tour with singer Jake Bugg, and released song “Somebody Special” about a relationship that inspires someone to rediscover their self-worth and potential. Nesbitt explains, “Somebody Special is about when you’ve been feeling a bit low and then you meet this person who changes everything. It’s about those first few months where everything you do together feels so exciting.” Nesbitt just released new single “Loyal to Me,” and is set to release her sophomore album early next year. She discusses early music influences, lyrical inspiration for her new album, and her desire to collaborate with pop legend Max Martin.
When did you start making music?
I started writing poems and short stories, and then at the age of 10, I picked up the piano and started putting the stories to songs. I picked up guitar at 15, and that’s when the songs turned into proper, releasable songs.
Who did you listen to growing up?
I have a Swedish mom, so I listened to a lot of pop music. A lot of Abba, Mariah, Whitney, Britney, Christina, Eva Cassidy. Then when I got a bit older, it was more Bon Iver, Alanis Morissette, Blondie—a massive variety of people.
How did you get started and when do you feel you got your break?
I got started by posting on YouTube when I was 15. I started to build a following off that, and then when I was 17, I got my first break touring with other artists, and I then I got signed. I independently released an EP that charted in the UK, and it just went from there.
How did you decide that this is what you wanted to do?
I don’t think I ever decided. I just ended up doing it. I always loved it, but I never thought I could do it as a career. I didn’t really know how to. I always dreamt about this, though.
“I’d love to work with anyone that is different than me, because I feel they can bring something extra to the song.”
— Nina Nesbitt
What life events have impacted you and your music the most?
Moving to London was quite a big thing for me. I come from a small village, so moving there opened my ears and eyes to a lot of different things. I have interesting friends from all over the world that inspire me to write about them. Going through the whole music industry—being on a major label, being on an independent label, touring—lots of things have inspired me.
What can you tell me about your new album?
The new album is mostly about personal growth. It’s a journey from start to finish, so hopefully, people will listen to the whole thing. That’s the aim. I’m really proud of it. It’s going to be my debut album in the States. I’m excited for people to hear it.
What are some things that are important to you that you like to address through your music?
I try and talk about things that I am thinking at the time. The album is very lyrical. I had a bunch of stuff that I wanted to say. I don’t really go out there with a political message or a religious message. I try to talk about what’s real to me, which is relationships, my friend having a baby, wanting to a build a good career for myself, and feeling lost. I wanted to write an album that people could groove to and listen to while going through things.
“I have interesting friends from all over the world that inspire me to write about them.”
— Nina Nesbitt
Max Martin is a Swedish songwriter, record producer and singer. He rose to prominence in the second half of the 1990s after making a string of major hits for artists such as The Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, and NSYNC. He has won the ASCAP Songwriter of the Year award a record ten times.
Who would you most like to collaborate with and why?
I’d love to write with Max Martin—I say that all the time. I think he’s a pop genius. I’d love to work with anyone that is different than me, because I feel they can bring something extra to the song. I love people like Calvin Harris. He collaborates really well with people. I’m always open to collaboration. I have a few coming this year.
What are your interests and passions outside of music?
My dog. I love him very much. I like cooking. I love making soups. That’s a very interesting hobby of mine. I love Pilates, and yoga, and feeling good. But, my life is basically music 24/7.
Sabrina Claudio is singer-songwriter based in Miami whose debut mixtape, About Time, was released in October 2017 and peaked at number 13 on Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart.
What’s your favorite book, film, and music right now?
Favorite album right now is About Time, by Sabrina Claudio. It’s so different to anything else. It’s a really beautiful feminine record. Film: I haven’t seen any films recently, but I’ve watched a lot of series. The best series I’ve seen recently was called MindHunter. An FBI agent goes and interviews serial killers and tries to understand the logic behind them. Books: I’m reading a book about Trump at the moment, the one that was everywhere. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but it’s interesting.