Q&A: Have You Met.. NAHLI

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Rising soul and pop singer, Nahli released her debut EP titled Therapy Side A early in September through ALKMY Records, the new label from from eminent record producer DaVinChe. Following the release Nahli took some time to join our Q&A series to get to know her a little better.

You have a great voice, who were your early musical inspirations growing up? Who encouraged you to go in to music?

Thank you! I was actually encouraged to perhaps not go into music initially. My mum had been in the music industry for a while and she said it’s a particularly difficult career to place yourself in, which I absolutely do not disagree with…but…I guess I like a challenge. I’ve always believed I could do it. I’ve had strangers come up to me and tell me I have a particular aura and that they see my name in lights. Whenever I got my palms read, they’d always say the same thing…I just believe to my soul that my destiny is in this. My Dad sat me down when I nearly gave up, I was exhausted by it. And he told me that I should give it a year. So I did. And here I am. My mum is so supportive. They both urged me never to quit.

With this being you first EP, and having featured on a number of Garage and Grime tracks before the release, How was the process making the EP very much your own, and distinctive to songs you’ve featured on?

I think that stepping into the solo scene for the first time is always a little daunting. It’s all about finding confidence in sharing your music initially. I have a very eclectic taste in music, I enjoy it all. I listen to rock and roll, I listen to 60s blues. I listen to Jazz. I listen to Einaudi. All of it interests me, so when I was asked to collaborate on garage and grime, I’m always open to new genres and new adventures. I have never caged myself into doing one specific thing…yet, this EP is truly the kind of music I enjoy making. I know it’ll grow and blossom into different avenues, it’ll flourish. But at this moment in time, my main priority is to share a clear message with my lyrics.

Your manager/mentor, DaVinChe has written and produced for many amazing artists, what’s it like to work with him, and how is relationship different to other managers or producers you’ve worked with in the past?

I have such a great relationship with Davinche. Firstly because I have known him for so many years. We understand each other on a very deep level which is great when working together cause we never get our wires crossed or rub each other up the wrong way. He understands that I can be an emotional soul at times and knows when to give me space and when to give me support. He is also extremely patient as I can get quite emotional when it comes to my craft. I get emotional in studio sessions at times when it comes to writing lyrics or if I get frustrated with myself in the vocal booth (I’m a perfectionist and when I feel like I’m not achieving my best on the day I get a little cross with myself) and he always just makes a joke or says something funny and I snap straight out of it. He helps me to get the best out of my vocals and has really guided me into writing my helping me get right into my soul without fear. I feel really blessed to be a team with him. He produces, helps me write, he does all the photography and filming. The editing. So much. Him and I are a force to be reckoned with, if I may say so myself! I say that because we really do try and juggle most things ourselves.

Have you explored any other creative outlets, like art, or is fashion really important too?

I have always been interested in art. I had a bit of a flair for it at school. Textiles too. In fact, I’ve recently started hand creating my own merchandise but its at the really early stages right now. Its fun though, I find it quite therapeutic. My dear friend Cameron from SIGMA gave me a bag of clothes he rarely wore and I’ve been painting on them. I share the process on instagram (@nhlimoon). I just removed the A in NAHLI and I added ‘moon’ because the moon is such an important part of my life. I often find solace with it and I go to it with my problems and issues. Or to share my gratitude about the direction my life is going. In fact, coincidentally, the moon was absolutely magic the night my EP was released. Huge, full, and slightly pink. I really love fashion, I feel like my fashion changes quite regularly but at the moment I’m really into over sized tracksuits. I’ve always quite liked having a bit of a boyish style, but I change it up sometimes. I hate wearing heels though. I literally always fall over.

The UK music scene is thriving at the moment, which artists are you listening to, or keen to see live in concert?

It really is thriving. I’m a really big fan of ‘Nothing But Thieves’. Tom Misch is my absolute favourite, I’m dying to see him in concert. In fact, to collaborate with him would be a dream. I love Kara Marni’s voice. Cameron Bloomfield is releasing stuff again which I’m really into. He’s extremely talented. Sami Switch is on his way up. Lots of great music around.

If you wasn’t making music or working in the industry, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

I’d be working at my family company. I’d probably be there, annoying everyone. In fact I worked there when I was 18 and did exactly that. I was paid an absolute pittance, I really thought I’d get special treatment but nope ha ha. I didn’t last there long, then I got into care for the elderly. I used to just sing down the corridors from 9-5. Every single day. In the smoking area. In the kitchen at lunch. I’d find myself daydreaming about being on stage all the time.

In fact once, this is totally off subject but I’ve just been reminded, I was quite young and my step dad at the time walked into my bedroom to tell me that dinner was ready but I had my headphones in. I was singing to Holly Valance – Kiss Kiss in a belly top trying to be a bit sexy in front of my full length mirror, kinda copying her in her music video (Don’t ask me why, it was a weird year for music)…next thing I know I’ve got a tap on the shoulder from him and I jump out of my skin and I had to sit and have dinner with everyone with such a bright red face. It stopped me daydreaming about being on stage for a bit because I felt like such a dickhead!

What are you plans for the rest of the year, any solo bookings you can confirm?

My plans are to release Therapy [Side B] first and foremost. Very excited for that. The two sides of Therapy are basically the 5 stages of grief that we all go through in order to heal from something. First denial (Relapse), then depression (Blake/F.Y.M) and anger (Mama’s Boy) – [Side B] goes into bargaining and acceptance. It’s s a very real process that I wanted to share. It’s the natural way in which our mind and body process grief and standing back from the EP as a whole, makes me really proud, because I remember the girl and all her emotions through each and every section. We all need to feel like we can relate to something or someone sometimes because we feel less alone, and if I can give that to even one person, I feel like I’ve achieved something really special.

What are some of the difficulties you’ve faced working in music industry, do you have advice to for any aspiring musicians?

It’s difficult to make friends, I personally find. I see a lot of people attending events in groups and doing stuff but I’ve always been a bit of a lone wolf. It does get to me sometimes, and I’ve had similar conversations with artists feeling like they’re in the same boat…so the advice I would give it, don’t look left. Don’t look right. Don’t look behind you. Look ahead and keep your focus and don’t worry about what anyone else is doing. Don’t compare YOU, to anyone else. Keep pushing, and remember that its not a race. We all have our time to shine in all of our different ways and that is what’s so special about the music industry. There’s so much diversity. There’s an avenue for almost everyone.

Keep doing you, keep grinding. And never ever give up on anything that burns a fire in your soul. 

Check out Nahli’s latest EP, Thready (side A) below:

Author: Kofi Yeboah

I'm a Music & Culture Journalist, and DJ from London. I worked in radio, events promotions, and content production. .

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