Ahead of the release of her new album The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change and her first proper US headline tour, we caught up with the unstoppable Nina Nesbitt to discuss Plan B’s, the reality of becoming famous at seventeen and the decision to not give a f*ck.
How is the tour going so far and are there any particular highlights?
Definitely Manchester so far, we did the Albert Hall and it’s just such a nice venue. Yeah the tour is going good.
Where are you most excited to play?
I’m excited to go to Europe because I haven’t been to Europe in so long, I’m looking forward to Amsterdam and Paris; two of my favourite places and I really want to go to the German markets.
Yeah, great time of year to visit European cities. Very excited to hear about your North American headline tour in 2019, anything you are most excited about?
I absolutely love touring America, I’ve done a few support tours there now and I just came off one before Lewis, I just love American crowds they are so enthusiastic, they’ll just scream at you all time so I’m like ‘woo’ [laughter]. It’s my first proper headline tour and I’m excited to see how many people come.
Yeah, that’s awesome. Do you have a favourite of your own songs and why?
On the upcoming album I guess it would be ‘The Best You Had’ or ‘Is It Really Me Your Missing’, I love a ballad and I love a lyric so they are probably my favourite.
It seems like you really value your fans, especially with The Songs I Wrote For You initiative which is really special. How big is your fan support for you?
Massive, I think the main thing for me is having a fan base; I’m really lucky that I have a fan base in this musical climate now where it’s so hard to build a fan base because there are just so many people. I’m lucky that I started before all of this became a thing. Whether I’ve been signed to label or independent, been an artist or songwriter I have an amazing fan base that support me, so I’m really lucky. I don’t know why they’re there but it’s great [laughter].
Your songs portray a lot of emotions of love and loss; do you find it hard writing a personal song and knowing a lot of people will hear? Is there anything you’d prefer to keep private rather than writing about it?
Not really, people don’t really know about my relationships, like with my current relationship people know we are together but they don’t know the ins and outs of it which I like. So no ones going ‘omg that’s about that time’, do you know what I mean? And I like writing personal songs, I would feel weird putting a song out that wasn’t my emotions so no, I mean I’ve probably pissed a few people off but whatever it’s fine. [Laughter]
That’s just rock and roll. You were only seventeen when you supported Ed Sheeran on his European tour and your whole music career took off, was there ever a plan B or was it just always music from the start?
I wanted to do criminology for a while, I’m not a natural performer at all, I hated getting on a stage, it made me so nervous but I loved singing and I loved music. I thought I might just do something else and do music in my own time because I just didn’t feel comfortable. Also, coming from a village in the middle of nowhere I had no contacts or connections, so yeah I was going to do criminology and then in my last year of school, well I actually left early, but in my last year at school I was quite unwell and I missed quite a lot of school, it made me think that music was one thing that made me happy so I’m just going to go for it and see what happens.
So did you apply for uni?
I did apply and I actually got offered to leave a year early and go and study music but I didn’t really see the point in going to study it, I knew I didn’t want to be a theoretical musician, I want to just go out there and do it.
How did your parents take it when you were like ‘music is what I’m going to do, I’m going to go on tour’. Did they support it? Or did they think you should do something else?
No, my mum’s Swedish so she’s super chilled about everything and very open minded to different ways of living, she was like you are obviously passionate and you should do what makes you happy. My dad was like ‘what are you doing?’ but he was like ‘just enjoy it, it might last a year’ and now it’s seven years later and every time he’s like ‘I can't believe there is still people here’. [Laughter]
Is it possible to describe the feeling when your career starts taking off? When you feel like "shit, this is actually really going somewhere"?
I was constantly buzzing, it was a really weird time, quite surreal and overwhelming, it was exciting but it was also really stressful because, I don’t know if it was my age or not, but suddenly I was signing contacts and it’s this much money and you need to start this account and you need to get a lawyer, and oh they are trying to sue you and I was just like what the fuck, my friends are at school worrying about what they are going to wear at the weekend. So it was very stressful and nobody around me really knew what to do, it was a completely overwhelming experience.
Sounds absolutely crazy. How do you stay grounded?
Probably my boyfriend to be honest, he is very cynical and I’m a bit of princess so he kind of has to bring me back down to earth.
I feel like your new music like ‘Loyal To Me’ sounds a bit more badass compared to your earlier music like ‘The Apple Tree’, do you feel like the music industry has toughened you up a bit?
Yeah definitely, I was always like the weak person in the relationship, like in school or in my first proper relationship, I was always like "poor me" or "you don’t love me", all of this all the time, but after that I was like "Fuck This, I’m going to take control of my life and my relationship". I think I just learned a lot and I try and put that into songs.
Yeah it feels powerful. What has been the highest point of your career so far?
There have been so many different parts of my career but recently probably seeing a billboard of myself in Times Square, it was absolutely mental and bizarre. [Laughter]
Wow, so surreal. Any dream collaborations?
I would love to collaborate with Max Martin, he’s obviously a massive writer/producer and written all the hits.
So you’ve got The Sun Will Come Up, the Seasons Will Change coming out in February, what can we expect from it? I’ve heard it’s going to be more pop focused, is this true?
I would say it’s lyrically led, it’s not like all the singles I’ve put out which are the pop moments, ‘The Best You Had’ is a good reference but there are songs on there about my friend having a baby, songs about my career goals; it’s very personal, I guess the subjects are quite unique; it’s just like a diary of someone in their early twenties but there are some upbeat pop songs for people who like that.
Sounds great, can’t wait. Final question, if you were sent to a desert island with a luxury, a book and a song, what would you choose and why?
I’m reading Lily Allen’s book at the moment, it’s really interesting and very good; all about her whole career. I would want to finish it so I would take that with me [laughter], and a song, can it be an album?
We can do an album.
I have been obsessed with 6lack, everyone was listening to it in America so I was getting into it and he’s got an album called East Atlanta Love Letter which I love, it’s very nice and vibey, the lyrics are also good.
And a luxury?
That is such a change from Lewis Capaldi who chose a toilet as his luxury item. [Laughter]
Oh no… Lewis.
I think I prefer diamonds.
I don’t know what they would do; they wouldn’t help me in any way. [Laughter]
Thank you so much, that was fab, enjoy the rest of your tour.
Thank you, nice to meet you.
Nina Nesbitt's new album, The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change is released February 1st 2019. Pre-order at her website.