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‘I think everyone is looking for the summer of their lives’: Nina Nesbitt on returning to the stage, TikTok and her long-awaited third album

© Wolf JamesNina Nesbitt
Nina Nesbitt

After a topsy-turvy period of lockdowns, Zoom calls and bedroom studios, making the most of special moments has been at the forefront of Nina Nesbitt’s mind.

Like many musicians, the singer-songwriter is just getting back into the swing of things ahead of a busy summer of festivals and shows.

While she can’t wait to reconnect with her fans, she’s also been making sure she makes the most of time spent with family – especially her Swedish grandmother.

Dinner Table, one of the first songs to be released from Nesbitt’s upcoming third studio album, was inspired by missing out on the simple pleasure of different generations gathering and spending time together.

“It’s about not realising how special the little moments were when we were able to freely do them,” she explained.

“I couldn’t get into the country to visit my grandmother because I got rid of my Swedish passport, so we went a year-and-a-half without seeing each other.

“It made me really appreciate spending time with her. I’ve been learning Swedish so I’m able to speak to her more because her English is quite limited.

“Hearing all her stories, made me realise there’s so much we can learn from the older generation, but I feel like there’s such a divide sometimes.

“If you really just take the time and have a chat with them, I feel that you can learn a lot. And that’s kind of what inspired that song.”

With more new music on the way, it looks set to be big summer for the 27-year-old, who this week was announced as a support act for Coldplay for their Hampden gig in August.

She will also have the honour of opening TRNSMT’s main stage when the festival returns to Glasgow Green.

“I went on the main stage with Lewis Capaldi a few years ago to sing a duet but I haven’t done my own set so I’m very excited to do that,” she said.

“It feels like a good year to be getting back on festival line-ups. I think everyone is looking for the summer of their lives, so I think it’s going to be a good one.”

© Supplied
Nina Nesbitt

Nesbitt has just returned from supporting former X Factor star James Arthur on his US tour.

She admits stepping back out onto stage was like visiting an old life – but she soon found her rhythm again.

“It was so good to be back,” she said. “I’d forgotten what it was like to be on tour but, by the end, it felt like I’d never stopped.

“I did two shows in Glasgow and London earlier this year too and I just felt so emotional. It was really nice to have everyone back together. Online, you just see numbers really, you forget that they’re actually real people.”

A long-awaited third album, Älskar, will be released on September 2, with many of the songs written pre-Covid as the project was put on the back-burner by the pandemic.

Several of the tracks have not just been written and performed by Nesbitt, but produced by her too.

That side of the music release process is something she’s consciously made an effort to learn and become more involved with in recent years.

In a male-dominated field often lacking in female role models, she hopes to show a pathway for young women that she didn’t see when starting out.

“Growing up with female pop stars as my icons, when I looked at the credits, there was usually a male producer,” she said. “I thought, oh well, I sing and then they produce.

“As I grew older, I thought ‘why can’t I do it as well?’ It’s kind of intimidating when you don’t have role models.  I don’t think I’ve ever had a female producer that has shown me the ropes or led by example.

“It’s something a lot of my male friends and producers have really encouraged me to do. I’m always saying, oh, there needs to be more female producers. Well, why not do it then?

“Lockdown has given me a lot of time to work on that and really push myself. It also teaches you so much as a musician as well.”


how to turn nature into music #fyp #learnontiktok #quarantine

♬ original sound – Nina Nesbitt

Nesbitt showed off her production skills by creating songs sampling different everyday sounds during lockdown and sharing them on TikTok.

She’s now built a large following on the social media platform, which has over a billion active global users, and enjoys creating content for it despite the music industry’s increasing use of it as marketing tool.

In recent weeks artists including Self Esteem, Halsey, Florence Welch and FKA Twigs have spoken out about record labels’ insistence on trying to create viral moments.

Asked if she posts out of enjoyment or obligation, Nesbitt said: “I feel like it’s a bit both now. I was really bored in lockdown and my label said I needed to get TikTok and I was like… it’s for kids. I’m not getting it.

“Then I went on it and got hooked on it. I posted a couple of videos and they instantly went viral, I have no idea why.

“I seemed to have an audience on there, so I kept putting videos up during lockdown, sampling everyday sounds. It built me quite following and I noticed a whole new fan base emerging. It’s definitely been really helpful for me.

“There’s so many people on it now, so it’s harder to cut through and it does feel as if labels are getting a little bit reliant on it and putting a lot of pressure on artists to market their own music and have that as the only tool.

“It’s a whole new thing for the artists – especially if you’re not used to doing social media. But I just have a laugh with it, really. People want to see you having fun. I think they can see when it’s forced.”

Nina Nesbitt (Pic: Wolf James)

Nesbitt has faced all the highs and lows of the music industry and the public eye ten years on from bursting onto the scene as a teenager.

Having uploaded Taylor Swift covers to YouTube, she went on to meet Ed Sheeran before a gig in Edinburgh and was invited onto his tour.

But despite Top 40 hits and well-received albums, she was shelved and dropped by her label and decided to go for it herself.

What advice would she give herself if she was starting out in 2022 rather than 2011?  “It’s such a different industry in such a different time, but I think, now more than ever, just don’t be afraid to get music out there,” she said.

“I’m always surprised by what goes viral or even what people like sometimes. I put out a song called The Moments I’m Missing and suddenly DJs took my vocal and remixed it and it’s had about 100 million plays.

“It’s just totally random – I didn’t even know it was happening. I just said yeah, go on, feel free. The more you say yes to, the more chance you have of having some sort of crazy experience. I got to go to Mexico and sing it in front of 20,000 people.

“I think the more open you are to things without obviously losing your authenticity, the more chances you can get.”

Nina Nesbitt plays TRNSMT festival, July 8 to July 10, Glasgow Green,