Get To Know: Nina Nesbitt

  • Words: Lucy Shanker

Nina Nesbitt started off as a teenager in Scotland posting videos on Youtube. At 17, she found herself in London enthralled in the music industry. She then released her first album Peroxide, a testimony of her young life and rise to fame. But Nesbitt didn’t want to be just an acoustic artist, and she soon found herself evolving into much more. With her 2016 track “Chewing Gum,” Nesbitt seemed to be settling into her own and her sound, and she’s only grown from there. Two years later and Nesbitt has complete control over her music, which is clear in her latest track “Something Special” — it’s unadulteratedly Nina. We caught up with 23-year-old artist before her UK tour kicks off in May.

Hey Nina! So you went from a small village in Scotland to being a pop star basically. What was that transition like?

It was quite weird. Before, the most exciting thing to happen was a cow running out into the field. It was a whole different world moving to London and seeing so many different cultures. It’s more ambitious and cutthroat here. It’s the complete opposite of where I’m from, but I’ve always wanted to move down here. It was definitely a culture shock because I had lived a very sheltered life.

What’s your hometown’s reaction been?

It’s a mix. A lot of people are really happy for me, and others are like, “Who do you think you are?” But, a majority of people are really, really supportive.

You were 17 when you got into the music industry and 19 when your first song hit the charts. Can you talk a little about being so young and in one of the toughest industries?

I was a bit unaware because I was so naive. I just kind of ended up in this industry, and I thought I knew everything. I had never experienced failure before, but if anything it was quite good. I had to hold my own. And you start to realize, “Oh, that person doesn’t have my best interest in mind. Or, “Oh, that’s why that person is doing that.” I learned so much. I feel like I’ve been to uni for the music industry. There’s so many things that you wouldn’t even realize until you get into it.

In the past you’ve covered artists like Fleetwood Mac — who are some of your musical influences?

Mostly strong females — I love Alanis Morissette. She’s always really inspired me because she’s so fearless and just says exactly what she wants to say. That’s definitely inspired some of my new music. Women like Stevie Nicks as well who are just like icons and strong women.

And you’ve done a lot of work to empower women, too.

Yeah, I just like to support something that I’ve personally experienced in the industry. A lot of the time, women aren’t taken seriously in the studio or as producers. Like,  if a guy does something for you, you don’t have to go on a date with him; he can just help you. It doesn’t make you a bitch to know what you want. Especially now because of Spotify and all that, so many people are doing it. If you don’t know who you are, it’s pointless trying to cut through.

You’ve been endorsed by some big names — I saw that you were featured in Taylor Swift’s “Favorite Tracks.” What was that like?

It’s really exciting because Taylor Swift is the reason I picked up a guitar when I was 15. She was so relatable. I’ve always followed her career really closely, and I guess it’s a bit of a dream come true to be recognized by her. That was quite surreal.

I read that people started saying you weren’t writing your own songs, which annoyed you. Why do you think it’s important to write your own stuff or why is that process so important to you?

I’ve always written my own songs since I was a kid. And, I write for other people, which has helped me been taken a little more seriously. But, I was this young, blonde popstar, and people were like, ‘Well there must be a team behind it.’ But no, it comes from the artist. But as a young girl, you have to do so much more; it’s much harder.

Your latest work is quite different from your first album Peroxide. How do you think you’ve changed in between the making of these two works?

I’m still quite proud of it, but I don’t think the first album was my best work. I was so young, and I didn’t really know what kind music I wanted to make. It was a bit of a mish-mash, which is honest to how I was feeling at the time. This one is very sonically cohesive and it’s a proper debut album. It’s a true representation of who I actually am. I may look back in a few years and be like, “Oh my god. Who is that?” But I am really proud of it. I’ve written 70 percent of it and the rest is collaborations, but I wanted to make sure it was all coming from me and not what I thought the radio wanted or what was cool.

What’s the inspiration behind “Something Special”?

I had a session in Nashville and I was kind of going through this time where I got back with my boyfriend from two years. I was feeling kind of lost, and then when we got back together and everything just fell into place.

You’ve talked about really settling into your career and maintaining your artistry. What is your goal for this upcoming UK tour and kind of from here on out?  

I feel like things change overnight in this industry, so I set short-term goals. First is to get the album out. Just kind of figure out the album and seeing where it goes and then definitely doing some collaborations.

Nina’s brand new single, Somebody Special, is now now and available to stream here, and warning: it may make you contemplate calling up the one who got away.