By Harriet Kaplan
With just two singles under her belt, “My Mistake” and “Dark Rider,” and with her first full album of new material on the way, German synth-pop siren Nina (link) is making a name for herself with dark and sometime brooding music that somehow fits against a backdrop of chillwave disco that has draw comparisons to “Lana Del Rey meets Robyn” as characterized by The Huffington Post. The lyrics of her songs have a sort — live fast, die young – – dramatic, thematic quality to them. She has a distinctive voice that sounds otherworldly that can be seductive as well as cutting. Nina also had the opportunity to support Erasure on their U.S. tour last fall, a band she grew up listening and admiring in Berlin. To really appreciate the intensity of her gripping style and vocal talent, watch an acoustic performance by Nina on You Tube. There for the uninitiated, one can fully appreciate her gifts as a compelling performer and see first hand what all the buzz is about and possibly become a new fan in the process. Recently Black on the Canvas had the chance to talk this emerging artist by email interview and learn about how she got started and developed an interest and passion in music and where her career has taken her to date.
How did you become a singer? What was the moment you knew I’m going to be a one and it clicked for you – when was it? From there, how did you build the foundation for a career?
Nina: I realized I had passion for singing very early on, when I was about six years old, but I made a decision to become a professional singer in my teens. I remember recording myself on a little tape recorder at my dad’s place. From then on I had some classical and pop training. After that it was more of a hands-on approach, just getting out there and touring.
Was Erasure a major influence on you growing up and why? Did any other artists influence you? Was your family musical as well? What did you listen to growing up around the house?
Nina: Definitely. I loved listening to Erasure when I was growing up. Their melodies would stick in my head for ages, such great songs! I also listened to a lot of Bowie, Depeche Mode, Michael Jackson, The Doors. My family is not really musical, but my mum absolutely loves disco, so ABBA and Boney M. were always playing in her car.
Being born in Germany do you think it had any influence on your musical sensibilities?
Nina: Yes, I think being from Berlin exposed me to all sorts of different music styles in the 80s and 90s that perhaps was different to what was happening in the UK or the US. I regularly go back to Berlin and I love how broad the cultural spectrum is; it’s a very inspiring place.
From watching your videos and acoustic sets, your songs feel moody, brooding and there’s a sense of longing. What are your thoughts on that? Have you had some experiences with people or relationships that have contributed to that or are the lyrics kind of composites or sketches of observing other people?
Nina: Yes, and all the new material I’m writing is quite moody too, I guess it’s what I feel comfortable with. I’ve definitely been hurt in my life (like most people) and I tend to put it all down in songs. You can say it’s my kind of “therapy”.
However, I can also write about it from a detached place, as an observer.
Do you play any instruments? How do you compose/write your songs? Do you collaborate?
Nina: I play a bit of keyboards and xylophone, but I tend to collaborate with producers quite a bit. I usually bring lyrics or a concept to the table and we work around that. I just finished a couple of new tracks with The Levity and Sunglasses Kid and it’s been great.
How much music have you released?
Nina: Two singles so far with this project, and a full album coming out around August.
Do you like touring? Do you have a special preference doing bigger shows versus more intimate ones? What has been your most interesting or challenging experiences? The ones that have been most satisfying and fun for you as well?
Nina: absolutely love touring. I really enjoy the energy I get from big crowds, so playing on a big stage is always a great experience. Small intimate shows have their charm too, being closer to the audience.
Being the support act on a big tour can be challenging, as the audience wouldn’t necessarily know your songs. And the best experience is always to have new fans show their love and support after my shows. I love meeting them face-to-face.
What would you like your fans to know about you that you don’t think they already know?
Nina: I’m a photographer at heart and I’m obsessed with thrillers.
How has social media factored in raising your presence or increased your popularity in reaching an audience? Do you post regular updates and photos? Do you find people feel more engaged and want to connect with you that way?
Nina: Social media has definitely helped me stay in touch with my fans and get in touch with people around the world, who I wouldn’t reach otherwise. I post a lot on Instagram, especially when I’m on tour. I get lots of messages during a tour, so I think people connect more after watching you perform live.
What is next for Nina? Is there anything else you want to do with your music that you haven’t explored yet creatively? Or in another medium?
Nina: Currently finishing my album, and there will be some tour dates coming up around the UK, France, Poland and Germany. One of my songs might be featured in an independent film, which is great. I guess I would like to incorporate more of my photography in my live shows. I’m working on it…