Nadia Nair is Sweden’s golden voiced enigma. A vocalist of transcendent ability with songwriting and producing skills that bring her timeless conviction into a fascinating modern realm. Beautiful Poetry is her recent release and we managed to reach out to her in Sweden to see how the ethereal masterpiece came about.
Sweden’s golden voiced enigma, Nadia Nair needs to be heard to be believed. Here, she goes some way to explain what inspired her sound; you may be surprised
HAPPY: What or who inspired you to begin your musical journey? How do they effect your music now?
NN: My mother, my father, Kenny G and Whitney Houston. My mother not only heard I had a voice but also saw I was a very restless and creative child that deserved to express myself through art. She used to dance the Bharata Natyam and so she introduced me to dancing and then the violin at the age of 5. Dad was always blasting rock music and I was head banging with his earphones on at the age of 1. Couldn’t fall asleep without listening to Kenny G and Whitney Houston’s I Will Always Love You was the only thing I’d be singing and performing on the flights to Malaysia and in front of my relatives. So yeah a lot of things I would say.
HAPPY: Your debut album is a collection of beautiful sounds and transcendent imagery, what inspired the lyricism? How much of it is based around personal experience?
NN: It’s the outcome of an introvert journey I have made, that came out of a writer’s block and that questioned a lot of things, brought back nostalgic memories and childhood stuff, like it allowed me to play. A track list put in the order of oldest to newest because I want my next album to feel like the next chapter and so on. So that the last song is a reflection of where I might be going. I never know. Beautiful Poetry is having hubris, knowing you’re the perfect poet because of your flaws…The death and destruction of boxes that makes us equal in the eyes of escapism. The death that gives birth to life. And what other ways than beautifully to lure in love into your isolation where you paint the ugly.
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HAPPY: How did the creation of Beautiful Poetry differ from music you’ve created before?
NN: I think it’s more playful, it’s more honest and closer to my roots. It’s a deep dive into my thoughts and my nostalgia. It’s also the songs I let define my debut album and the start of my artistic chapter. After many years of just letting things grow in their own pace.
HAPPY: You released the album on your own label, Naboobia Records, what does this mean for your creativity and how did it contribute to the release of the record?
NN: I didn’t see it as a big deal, I just wanted to release music quick under my own terms. But when I reflect on it, It means a lot of hard work, pain and freedom. I had no money starting out, no experience, just ideas and passion. A lot has had to be sacrificed for my freedom. But I chose that over sacrificing my freedom for a whole lot of other things. I wanted to work through the artist, from an artists perspective and see how far I could take it. I’m still learning, so in a way I feel like this album isn’t my biggest masterpiece, I have more. But I liked the idea of vulnerably sharing a process even though it’s not done, through power.
HAPPY: How do you plan to expose the new songs to the public? Can we expect an appearance in Australia any time soon?
NN: I need to come to Australia. You know how all people look like animals? Each have their animal-features and resemblances, I’ve heard mine is the koala. I’ll keep the look-out for opportunities, so yeah, if anyone who’s reading this can hook me up, I’m down to go down under!
HAPPY: What does social and political commentary in art mean to you?
NN: It means power. Art is hard to define although it’s universal, it speaks to you through emotion. It’s job is to awake. I also feel it is to unite in our differences and struggles. And so it has the power to influence. In an otherworldly kind of down-to-earth way if you know what I mean?
HAPPY: Tell us about your musical background. How did you develop that gorgeous voice and unique style?
NN: Haha well… I found my voice early but became friends with it later. I’m still working on that relationship. I found it when I started to sing those Whitney Houston songs as a young kid then I started singing in Swedish church choirs. A lot of classical music that was very high and eventually became uncomfortable keys to sing in…. My voice started changing in puberty, became deeper and I had a lot of insecurities around that…I wanted to take those high notes that Christina Aguilera could take…or the other girls in the choir singing soprano.
It was just that I was an alto. I was supposed to work on blending in. It was too hard for me, so I decided to go solo. I heard others perform at school and was like…”I think I can do that better” haha…but I didn’t know. I took a shot at a school performance, not knowing what my voice alone would sound like through a mic. I remember I was as surprised as the kids who heard me… cos they had never heard me sing alone.
And I remember feeling liberated and thinking to myself…that this is the feeling I want to chase. So I kept chasing. Had a period where I couldn’t stand how nasal my voice had become. Then I ended up playing in rock, funk and neo-soul bands because of it. Then went solo again because I wanted to master production and create music in solitude for awhile.
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HAPPY: For us here in Australia, we may not know a huge amount about artists coming through, and that so many come from Sweden! What artists do you love from your home music scene?
NN: Oh really, you don’t? There’s so much music coming from here. I love Lykke Li, Little Dragon, First Aid Kit, Elliphant… those are some which really stand out and speak to me. They all are greats by being innovative within their genres and their crafts. That really speaks to me. Oh and my friend’s band from my hometown – Wildhart.
HAPPY: What do you think your Swedish background has meant to your musical output?
NN: I have had the chance like so many as a kid to explore my musicality… Swedes put a lot of emphasis on creativity and music already in school. Education is free. Also all of my friends do music…not all are artists but we have a huge amount of writers and producers coming from here, they are too many to name but they are super talented. Passionate people inspire me, we have a lot here and who seriously go in for their art to make it their living.
HAPPY: What lies ahead for Nadia Nair? What are you future goals?
NN: I’m doing some festival gigs in the UK and Sweden this summer. And with my head in the future… make another, even better record. Maybe 3…or 10? And to eventually reach Nirvana.
HAPPY: What is your favourite track from the record and why?
NN: Right now, Anarchy In Me. It’s the only positive love song I have. I realised the other day. “You release the anarchy in me,” I say. It’s about taking the bullets, the wounds and going through love like a riot….and going through life the same way, with no player controlling you, no masters, no slaves. With a lover who dares you to be more than you everyday.