Nina Nesbitt ‘Almost Got Hypothermia’ Shooting for Her Next Album (INTERVIEW)
It's been a minute — okay, more like a few years — since PopCrush last spoke with Nina Nesbitt.
Since releasing her iTunes No. 1 debut album, Peroxide, in the UK in 2014, the 23-year-old Scottish singer-songwriter has been going non-stop: She released three new EPs (2014's Nina Nesbitt and 2016's Modern Love and Life in Colour); left her label, Island Records, to pursue a career as an independent artist; toured the U.S.; and opened for Justin Bieber during his British Summer Time concert series in London.
Then, in September, Nesbitt released her new single "The Best You Had," which quickly became the artist's most-streamed track of all time on Spotify. Despite her most recent accomplishments, however, the rising alt-pop star is just getting started.
We caught up with Nesbitt to find out about her 2018 album plans, what it was like working with Jessie Ware and why breakups bring out our worst paranoia.
How was the experience performing in New York and Los Angeles?
The [shows] were great! I just find it so weird that I can come to another continent and have people turn up. I guess it's just the internet... It just makes it so available to everyone. You can kind of see when you're streaming where your biggest areas are, and the biggest one is now America. It is a big country, but we were like, "Why not? Let's go and play a few shows."
What was your reaction to how well "The Best You Had" performed in the U.S.?
I've been doing this for about six years now, which sounds crazy. I started when I was about 16 or 17...I was really happy with how the first album did in the UK, but it never got released internationally. So my goal with this was to get to travel [in the U.S.] because there is a small amount of people [where I'm from]. You hope that with every song you'll get bigger and bigger. A lot of my fans from five years ago were buying music because streaming wasn't even a thing, so I had to try and move everyone over with me. I'm really pleased that has happened.
Why do you think the song resonated with so many?
Basically, it was inspired by a friend who had recently been dumped, and she had done a little Instagram stalking of her ex-boyfriend and saw there was a new girl on the scene. Then she started sending me pictures of this new girl, and she asked me, "So what do you think? Is she prettier than me?" You know, that paranoia that you get. Then it occurred to me that it wasn't so much about the breakup but more about her ego and that her pride had been hurt. It's like saying, "You can go off and be with whoever you want because we're not supposed to be together—as long as she's not better than me." I guess it's a bit of an ugly trait to have, but I think a lot of us have it.
DJ Fresh made a remix of the track. How did he end up involved?
I'd never had a proper big remix before. We actually met through a mutual friend at the Playboy Club in London when I was 18. It was so weird. Then I didn't see him for ages. He probably doesn't even remember. We got in touch through producers and stuff [and] my boyfriend works with him as well. We're just in the same circles. We did a few writing sessions on songs [that were] maybe for me or for someone else, I don't remember.
Speaking of writing for other people, I saw on Instagram that you co-wrote a song for Jessie Ware's new album, Glasshouse. Is that something you'd like to do more of—write for other people?
Between the first album and this one, there's been four years where I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do as an artist. I took six months to write for other people and dive-head first into that. I really enjoy it and it actually brings a lot of opportunities to me as an artist as well. You meet so many other artists that you could work with, and you find out what you're good at and what you're not so good at in comparison to other people. You can carve out your own unique thing, which has been helpful.
I do loads of pitch writing as well, where you write a pop song and then pitch it to DJs who can then work with the song, and sometimes they keep your vocal on it. It's just good to be involved in different things.
If there's one act you'd like to work with but haven't yet, who would it be?
I like collaborating with people. Like with Jessie, she was in the room. She's an artist; she writes, which is really cool. I would love to work with Calvin Harris because I think he's a really good songwriter and producer and he does everything, which I like. I'd also like to work with Max Martin because I think he is the pop god. I know he's a bit out of my reach, but you can always dream.
You never know. Since you've released some singles now, will we see a big body of work from you soon?
Yeah, album is coming out in the spring, but I haven't gotten a release date yet. It's basically finished. The visuals have been shot, and I almost got hypothermia while shooting them.
Now that you're an independent artist, what have you learned while working in the industry?
I think you really have to know what you want if you want to be an artist. Otherwise, you just kind of end up in space, just floating around. Working out what you want to say and being who you [want to be] are really important—unless you just want to cut other people's songs and you don't want to get involved in the creative part, which is totally cool as well. I really wanted to find my own thing and writing an album is really meaningful to me.
I've learned being a female you have to work harder as well. You need to be strong in sessions and meetings. [For example,] being afraid to come across as bossy when it's actually you just knowing what you want. Also, don't be afraid of making mistakes, because you learn from them.
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