Nina Nesbitt Wants Your Loyalty
Nina Nesbitt will tell you straight away—”Loyal to Me” wasn’t meant for her (she also writes for other artists, and imagined this track for a girl group of the early aughts where pop reigned supreme)—but when it came down to it, she just couldn’t let it go. We don’t blame her.
“I was imagining it for a girl band, maybe Little Mix or something,” she says. “I was imagining it as just this really pop-y moment, all the harmonies, all the girls singing it together, and then I just wanted to keep it for myself.”
Undoubtedly, she’s glad now that she listened to her intuition—”Loyal to Me” has over 2 million streams on Spotify alone (and counting), and it’s clear that the music video, released this morning, is sure to equal its sonic counterpart in energy and charm. We sat down with Nesbitt just prior to the video’s drop to talk loyalty, her new honesty hour “Loyal-tea”, and what’s next for the London-based pop songstress.
I was just watching the “Loyal to Me” video—it’s amazing. What was your process for bringing the song to life visually?
So I also write for other artists, and when I was writing it I was imagining it for a girl band, maybe Little Mix or something. I was imagining it as just this really pop-y moment, all the harmonies, all the girls singing it together, and then I just wanted to keep it for myself. So for the video I wanted to represent that girl band vibe that I had originally imagined, but me with two dancers. And I had never danced in my life—
Yeah, I’m so bad at dancing. It was edited, heavily. [Laughs] All my friends are literally like embarrassed to dance with me in a club. So I was like, “I wanna be in this dance.” So I had a lot of training and just gave it a go. You know the 90s and early aughts pop videos—that was the vision.
Yeah, it’s funny you say that because when I was watching it I definitely caught the kind of late Spice Girls vibe with how fun and sassy it is.
Yeah, totally. I miss the early aughts pop music, we’re in a chill pop era right now, which is really cool, but I just miss the big pop moments.
Everything is so lo-fi and chilled out right now.
Right, and I wanted to go like full on. [Laughs]
It has that energy, for sure. Is it referencing anything in your life, or was it just for fun?
Yeah, I think all of my songs are. I dated for about two years, basically I’ve been with a guy since I was about 18 on and off, but I dated people for two years in between that. And I realized in that, that people in our generation are less willing to commit now. They’re more focused on their careers and just more chilled out about dating. And I just find that quite hard to do. If I’m seeing someone, and I really like them, I want to commit to them 100 percent, you know? Dating people, it almost made me a bit cold, I almost turned into a bit of a fuck girl myself. [Laughs] So it’s a song about that. I had a night out with some of my girlfriends from back home, and one of them was telling us about this guy who she’s been seeing and then won’t hear from for a fortnight or whatever. I think that when you’re dating someone you like, you kind of make shitty excuses for their behavior, like “they’re just playin it cool, or whatever, it’s fine,” and “Loyal to Me” is just a song about your intuition—iif it’s telling you that they’re seeing other people or cheating on you or whatever, they probably are. You don’t get that gut feeling without there being something there. People give you a reason not to trust them, I think. It’s a song with advice, advice that I probably should have taken, but we never do!
I know, it’s like you want to learn from other people’s mistakes but sometimes you have to make your own mistakes.
Yeah, it’s hard when you like someone as well, because you make excuses.
“Love is blind” or whatever. [Laughs]
Love is blind!
Do you get reactions from fans that have similar experiences?
Yeah! So I’m doing this thing called Loyalty Hour, like Loyal-tea, as in “sipping the tea”—
Where basically fans send in stories about their fuck boy experiences. And I’ve had like hundreds of stories coming in. I was just reading them all, in shock. A lot of them were about people moving to Japan…like five or six stories where the guy literally moved to Japan.
Like did he actually move or just pretend to?
Well yeah so he either moved or like got another girlfriend. [Laughs] So weird. So I guess there must be a trend there or something.
So the rest of the album, when is it coming out?
We think January, but we’re just going to keep dropping singles until it feels like the right moment. We’re being quite reactive with it. I’m finished writing it now so it’s just about getting it ready to go.
And do you feel like it’s all about those kind of daily, universal human emotions and experiences?
I think so. I would say it’s like a journey from a start to finish; it’s not just a collection of songs. It starts with me being in a pretty bad place, feeling quite depressed, not sure what to do with my life, I had just been dropped from my label, so I was kind of just at rock bottom. I was like, “What am I gonna do! Who am I now!” you know? This total freakout. And the album is kind of what helped me get back on track, find myself, and figure out what I wanted to do. You can hear that through the songs. And at the end it’s like, actually, nothing is permanent, so even if you’re having a shit time, it will change. And that ending song is “Seasons of Change”. So it’s a journey, and in the middle of it is all of these things I’ve experienced from 21 to 23, mostly. It’s just an honest account of someone in their early 20s, living in a big city, just growing up and finding out who they are.
What kind of headspace are you in now compared to when you started writing the album at 21?
Totally different. It’s so weird. I started my career when I was really young, so I left school, got signed, was on the radio, and everyone was like, “Oh, she’s this artist with an acoustic guitar.” And I was like, “Well actually I don’t know who I am yet.” In your late teens you go through that, all these phases and changes, you find out who you are, and I never had that time to do that. So I feel like I had to go through that, and then the album is what came out of that at the other end. I just feel so much more secure in myself, and more confident in what I do.
Yeah, and I feel like when you find your “sound” or whatever it really helps lead the rest of your music as well.
Absolutely, yeah. When I started the album, I did a lot of visualizing and writing down my goals and all of that, which sounds silly but I had all these sheets of paper and I created this whole sort of world in my bedroom in London, and I would sit down every night and write down three things I wanted to achieve in the next three months, or whatever, and I just noticed things just started happening. That really helped me get over a shitty period. It’s a lot about the law of attraction—just putting out there what you want to happen.
And just pointing yourself towards something with intention instead of just passively going through the motions is so important.
Right, yeah exactly.
So you’re about to go on tour?
Yeah, I’m going on tour round America with Max, he’s awesome. His energy on stage is crazy. It’s gonna be good, because I’m very chilled out, so I can learn a lot from him. And then I’m going round Europe as well with another guy, Lewis Capaldi. I had never been to America before this year, so it’s been really great.
What do you think so far?
I love it! Everything’s bigger. [Laughs] I really like the whole kind of American show business aspect sort of thing. You can be a performer here. It’s quite exciting. I’m not a natural performer so that’s helped me come out of shell.
And what are you most excited for with the album release?
Just getting it out! It’s taken me three years to write it, so I just want to get it out, see people’s reactions, and hopefully go on tour around the world with it. I’d just like to travel with it and see where it takes me.
Featured image courtesy of Wolf James
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