Sassy commentator on music, art, and culture.

INTERVIEW: Nadia Nair

Photo by Teitur Ardal

The Stockholm-based emerging superstar Nadia Nair is about to take Sweden by storm. The impressive Bon Voyage EP emerges with angsty female vocals, and a whole lot of bite. Think of early 90s chick rock, but more Ani DiFranco meets Kate Bush than Paula Cole.

I had a chance to catch up with the fierce lioness known as Nadia Nair…

Cori Spelling: Listening to your straight out of the oven EP I have to wonder, who exactly is “Monika The Brave”? Is she your alter-ego? Or based off someone in your life?

Nadia Nair: I haven’t thought of her as my alter-ego but more as a strong personality that I think we all have deep down inside us. A courageous soul who comes in at times when we should speak our mind instead of being silenced by fear. The song adresses a subject which many aren’t too keen to talk about- rape. It happens daily, so I based it on all those people in all those age groups who are affected. Basically Monika gets her revenge on her rapist in a society where many get away with it…. So I thought when I wrote the song why cover up the ugly when there is nothing but ugly, and why not talk about the anger when there is nothing but anger…? Most importantly I did this song to give strength to those who suffer in silence.

CS: Your sound steers pretty far from what is coming out of Sweden these days, or at least what’s making it “mainstream” in the states. With a 90s power rock vibe, was that the intent? Specifically any female artists inspire this project?

NN: There was no intention other than doing what comes natural to me and I think it’s making music that reflects a lot on what I grew up listening to. A lot of it was the rock and pop music that was playing on MTV in the 90’s. That was when I was parked in front of the TV. I’m always drawn to the past and all things with a nostalgic vibe. There have been so many female artists during my years growing up that have inspired me as a musician rather than inspire specific projects. To name a few there’s Sinead O’Connor who’s music video “Nothing Compares To You” I’d cry and cry my eyes out to as a kid…and I don’t even know if I understood what the song was about back then. But she managed to get the message across and open up a box deep down inside of me at a very early age and all of my emotions just ran wild… I felt the same freedom when I discovered artists like Erykah Badu, Björk, Kate Bush, PJ Harvey and Nina Simone. Listening to such free and innovative sounds inspired me to be me and I’m so grateful for that. It started a little engine inside of me that made me take off in search of doing my own thing. And now I’m here on this project.

CS: It’s a little hard not to wonder if there is a story arch cutting across all three tracks? “Monika The Brave”, “Kharma”, and “Bon Voyage”. Can you reveal any secrets about the EP? 

NN: It’s fun keeping secrets! And the story arch is open for interpretations, I’m all for that! The EP is a taste of what’s to come. Like a drop in the ocean or something like that. I think people will be very surprised when I release my first album after hearing my EP.

Nadia-Nair-The-Bon-Voyage-EP-crop

CS: Was the EP put together rather quickly, or was this a long and labored process?

NN: I’ve been writing many songs for this project with my producer Victor Rådström for about a year, not knowing the outcome or having a concrete plan. So the creating process was long, but it had to be since I’m picky, a bit of a control freak and I don’t like stressing out tunes. But once we had a couple of decent songs we knew very quickly which ones were the strongest and threw them together for my EP.

CS: Now that The Bon Voyage EP is out there, what’s next? Do you have any tour plans in the near future?

NN: Most of my gigs at the moment are in Sweden which is awesome because there is a never ending live music scene here. I’m adding more songs to my repertoir and a music video is to be released for my 2nd single Monika The Brave. I’m based in Stockholm on the east coast but after finally taking the show to the west coast-Gothenburg-where I’m from, I’m ready to try other roads outside the country. Actually I’d love for that to happen! But Sweden first.

CS: What’s the live experience like for you? Do you prefer to be on the road or in the studio? 

NN: The live experience can be overwhelming. Almost everytime I go on stage I think to myself: “Why expose myself to this?” Then when it’s over I’m thinking: “what happened? Was it okay? Did I do something fucking mental?” A bit like being in a dream and suddenly waking up. Yet it’s so rewarding because for me that’s when the music I’ve created comes to life. It could be in the very moment that my eyes come across a strangers eyes from the audience and in that one moment I don’t feel so damn lonely. Or missunderstood.

CS: Do you enjoy touring and/or performing live for new audiences?

NN: That’s all I long to do. All the work put into the studio, paperwork and having meetings gives back when I see my audience and know that I have given them something.

CS: Do you have any pre-show rituals? 

NN: I like my nap. If I find a comfortable sofa backstage I’ll lie down and sleep for an hour or two between soundcheck and the show. I’m lazy at heart and I feel very relaxed most of the time so if I lie down or find a comfortable position on a couch I most probably will fall asleep. Anytime.

CS: Finally, for anyone out there who has not either heard of you or seen you live – describe your live show in one word.

NN: Reviving

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