Nina Nesbitt opens up about her new labor of love, dealing with writer’s block, the new songs she hopes Taylor Swift enjoys, and much more.
When Nina Nesbitt began working on her third studio album, she turned inwards for inspiration. The Scottish singer’s first two LPs, Peroxide and The Sun Will Come Up, the Season Will Change, brought the musician worldwide fame with fans in all four corners of the globe eating up her intimate yet danceable pop tunes. She even made fans out of superstars like Taylor Swift, a fitting development considering how Nina got into music after listening to Taylor’s Fearless album.
Making an album that followed that success was quite a lot of pressure to meet. But as always, Nina did what needed to be done. With a trip to visit her grandmother helping solidify what her new album was going to be, Nina went full force with her pandemic era baby, and the end result was Älskar.
The album, whose name means to love in Swedish, is Nina’s celebration of life in all of its complexities, as well as love in every form imaginable. The 12-track LP is filled with tender, intimate ballads and huge escapist 80s-tinged bangers that feel fit for the dancefloor that takes you on journey. The LP feels classic Nina Nesbitt, with the artist having wrote or co-wrote every track. But at the same time, it’s also an evolution and growth into a brand new era that feels intimate and mature yet relatable. NYLON Manila had the opportunity to chat with the musician where she let us in on what it was like working on Älskar, getting to perform alongside Coldplay, and much more.
When you started working on Älskar, what was the goal or intention you were aiming for the LP?
I just wanted to write an album full of great songs that meant something to me. I had the theme of “love in all its different forms” from the beginning and sort of went from there with it.
How do you think your new album differentiates from your past releases?
I think it’s slightly more mature than the previous two albums, but I think that’s only a natural thing. There’s quite a few different production styles on there because the album was made over such a long period of time. But at Älskar’s core, it’s very focused on storytelling. I think it’s a lot more raw and personal than the previous album, which is probably because a lot of it was written in lockdown, alone in my room.
Given how this is your third studio album, how do you keep your music fresh while still retaining your classic sound?
I love lots of different styles of music so that’s always changing and I guess my albums evolve sonically, but at the heart of it they’re always just stories put to music. I think my confessional lyrical style stays the same throughout any kind of genre I experiment with. It’s always good to collaborate with new people and visit new places to keep the inspiration coming.
Given the success of your past album, The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change, did you feel a pressure to live up to the hype with your new album?
Yes, definitely! It was a really challenging album to make because I didn’t know where to go after that album. I thought I’d make one album and then go back to being a songwriter because I never expected so much to happen with it. Releasing that album completely changed my life and I’m grateful I got to make another one. I think you have to remember a lot of it is “right place, right time” and out of the artist’s control, so I just set out to make the best album I could.
You recently got to perform alongside Chris Martin on Coldplay’s tour. How did that collaboration come about? What was the experience like?
It was a total spur of the moment thing, he heard me soundchecking and asked me to duet that night. I’m such a fan of Coldplay, so it was such a cool experience. I’m a huge lover of their songs, too. It was incredible getting to play to a sold out stadium, I’ve never been so nervous!
Aside from your past singles, what song/s on the album are you excited for fans to hear?
They’re all so different, which makes it hard to pick but I’d say songs like Heirlooms and Older Guys. I produced them both in my home studio room, so I’m really intrigued to hear what people think of them. They’re also the last two songs I wrote for the album and naturally the ones I connect with most.
Your Scottish and Swedish sides play a strong role in Älskar. Why did you decide to include your family heritage in the DNA of the album?
Making an album about love in all it’s different forms definitely makes you reflect on yourself and all the experiences you’ve had. I think naturally you look at your family and all the generations before you when trying to understand why you are the way you are. I find so many parallels between myself and family members I haven’t even grown up in the same house as. And I think genetics are fascinating and you can learn a lot from these discoveries.
You wrote or co-wrote all twelve songs on the album. Where do you get the inspiration to write?
I had the luxury of three years to make this album, but it comes and goes in waves. Some months I feel so creative and I could write a song everyday, but some months I’ll not even know how to write a song. I just try not to force it and always be open to inspiration from unexpected things.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
I used to get so frustrated and panicked that I’d forgotten how to write songs, but now, I’ve come to accept it’s just part of the process. I try and just take a step back until inspiration strikes, because it always comes back eventually. Also, I mostly write in a “stream of consciousness” way and find that writing just before bed is the perfect time for me, that way I’m not overthinking things.
How do you differentiate a good lyric from a bad lyric?
I get a certain feeling when I think a lyric is good. It feels similar to when you’ve just received some really good news. Feedback from people you trust helps, too. I think if a lyric makes you feel something, it’s good.
Is there a specific collaborator that you worked with on this album that stands out to you as your most memorable?
They’re all incredible, but I absolutely loved working in Sweden for the first time. It was such a cool experience getting to know people my age and hearing about the similarities in their upbringings, etc. I just felt really connected to them all.
You have been vocal about how Taylor Swift has been a major influence on your life. And she too is a fan of yours. Now that your album is out, which song/s from it would you like Taylor to listen to?
Oh, all of them! I’d love to know what she thinks. I feel like she’d be the type of person who would listen to an album start to finish.
Which song/s on the album are you excited to perform live when you go on tour later this year?
I’m excited to play Teenage Chemistry as it feels like such a perfect live track. I’ve only played it once so far and it got a great reaction.