Alter The Press!


ATP! Interview: America Needs Nina Nesbitt

19-year-old Scottish songstress Nina Nesbitt's debut album, Peroxide, was finally released in the UK this past February. Almost immediately, it shot to number one on the iTunes charts. Her fan base, a loyal collective known as ‘Nesbians,’ has been eagerly anticipating her debut since 2012, when she first hit the scene with The Apple Tree EP. She was just 17 years old then. The 'Nesbians' are clearly a rabid bunch, especially in Edinburgh, Scotland (Nesbitt's hometown) where she's already a major pop star and topping the charts. But somehow, she’s still relatively unknown in the states—which today, more than ever, needs Nina Nesbitt.

In the past two years, Nesbitt has managed to release a slew of folkie-pop earworms that have made waves in the UK, including "Stay Out," a singles chart topper and the first song that helped introduce her to American audiences; who Nesbitt is enjoying playing solo sets for during her current stateside visit: "I feel like people in America are very happy,” she tells Alter The Press, “playing here is one of my favorite things to do.”

Nesbitt’s U.S. debut, a self-titled EP, was released on April 1st and includes six tracks that demonstrate her personal songwriting touch. Nesbitt's soothing vocals and knack for creating catchy melodies separates her from, say, the typical American pop star that dances around the stage to music by talented producers that handle all the songwriting. Nesbitt, on the other hand, writes her own music with a stripped-down sound that focuses on her voice and acoustic guitar, rather than polished productions and theatrical stage antics.

Her U.S. debut includes "Stay Out," which should be a hit in the states, but it takes time to grown an audience that’s spent years consuming over-sexualized lyrics and thumping beats; all flesh and no soul. “Sexualized pop music just isn't something I'm comfortable doing," Nesbitt says, referring to her own style, rather than criticizing others. “I'm just not very comfortable doing that.”

Nesbitt is a proper singer-songwriter; an artist first, starlet second. She isn’t interested in being photographed while on vacation, or for that matter, gracing the cover of men’s magazine. Like Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches, she’s been open (and continues to be) about her issues dealing with misogyny and offensive comments online. "I've definitely dealt with weird and offensive stuff on the internet,” says Nesbitt, "but I've just learned to just laugh at it. I find it a bit funny at times."

She would rather write songs about her life, as opposed to having it documented by the paparazzi or dictated by the internet. She's hardly some self-absorbed pop star or Tumblr celebrity. At her core, Nesbitt is a rocker. “I've been listening to more Alanis Morissette lately,” she admits, “I think I'll experiment with more rock on the next record." Her current single "Selfies," already topping the charts in the UK, is about the obsession people have posting photos on the internet for validation, something Nesbitt finds a bit weird.

She’s a refreshing departure from the pop music that's currently buzzing in the states, and frankly, we need a change. Her influences are eclectic enough to ensure she’ll stay true to her sound. "My favorite artists at the moment are Nile Rodgers, Blondie, and David Bowie,” says Nesbitt, who once covered Fleetwood Mac's “Don't Stop.”

Americans need a musical palate-cleanser to wash away the smut-based controversy that’s all over the radio right now. Nesbitt offers that, the same way Taylor Swift did with Fearless in 2010—a record that was more than just pop—it was different, blending genres through a saccharine lens that made it pop music with substance.

BBC Radio 1, curators of the UK pop scene, picked up on Nesbitt’s sound early (the usually do). After a brilliant Live Lounge cover of the 1975's "Chocolate," we caught on, as well.

Her stage show is alarmingly simple: Nesbitt, bouncing behind her acoustic guitar to the beat, projects her voice with authority. She's got some serious pipes, and before you're fooled into think she’s the next Taylor Swift with her platinum blonde hair and childlike exuberance, it should be noted that Nesbitt's sound is constantly evolving: "I'll never be settled in just one genre,” she says, “I find that boring." It should be interesting to see how Nesbitt evolves. She turns 20 in July, and already, she’s poised to be the next breakout pop star.

Nesbitt now looks to break away from being the singer-songwriter discovered by Ed Sheeran. She’s more than that. She’s folk-inspired bubblegum pop behind a guitar; not quite Taylor Swift (she’s a bit more solemn), but definitely a great addition to a pop scene seriously lacking in soul.

- Art Tavana

Nina Nesbitt's self-titled U.S. Debut EP is available now via iTunes.

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