Nabiha is an artist and songwriter of Danish and North/West African descent. Raised in Denmark she writes music from the heart with a mix of urban, pop and electronic influences; lyrically, she is influenced by her life and thoughts. We spoke to Nabiha about her encouragement to pursue music, her process and exploration of genre, and the most valuable lesson she’s learnt as an artist.
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE MUSIC?
Music has always been a huge part of my life. Turning on the radio was the first thing my Mom would do when we woke up in the morning. She recently told me that my Dad would play music all day and when they put me to bed they would turn the music off. But then I’d start crying from my crib, and they’d have put it back on again so I would go to sleep! [Laughs]. I’ve always felt music to be a big and very natural part of my life. It is something that I connect with family, love, and just good times in general.
IS IT FAIR TO SAY THEN THAT, MUSICALLY, YOUR MOTHER HELPED SHAPED THE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY?
Yes that’s most definitely true. But as a teenager I tried to rebel against my parents’ jazz, soul and reggae influences by escaping into rock, hip hop and electronic music. Somehow, it has all come full circle though, and I now draw from all my musical influences.
IS THIS SOMETHING THAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU THEN? WILL WE CONTINUE TO SEE THIS MIX IN FUTURE RELEASES?
I think, and hope, I will always be curious when it comes to exploring music. It has always been important for me not to limit myself when it came to creating songs. And I also don’t want to make the same album twice. I just want to try to have fun with it. It does feels like I’ve narrowed it down a bit if you compare my first releases to my recent ones, but who knows what the future will bring.
CAN YOU TALK US THROUGH YOUR SONG WRITING PROCESS?
I like to come prepared to the studio. So I always have some ideas, topics, lyrics or melodies that we can start on. But I prefer to go with the flow. I am lucky to be working with amazing producers and songwriters from all over Europe and the USA. They’re sweet, and just hands down good people that I also consider my good friends. We usually start the day with a good cup of coffee and a talk. Sometimes we play music for each other just to catch a vibe. Often a song starts shaping during that time, and then we get to work.
YOU’VE COLLABORATED WITH LADY LESHURR HAVEN’T YOU? HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?
Working with Lady Leshurr was actually the idea of our managers. I had written ‘Drunk’ with producer Will Simms and songwriter Michelle Escoffery in London. The song was written in half a day and it immediately got us bouncing around in the studio. We all felt the track was begging for a dope rapper, but it wasn’t until Lady Leshurr’s name was brought to the table that everyone was in agreement. I just crossed my fingers and hoped that she would be up for it, and she was. I love her energy, her originality and attitude. She really stands out to me, such a powerhouse of talent.
WHAT’S THE STORY BEHIND ‘DRUNK’?
It was written in a period of my life where I was going through some hard times. Both my parents were diagnosed with cancer. My family and I were trying to cope with life and death and everything in between. It’s so surreal thinking back, and I know a lot of people reading this right now have gone through something similar. I had written a lot of songs reflecting on loss, family and heritage, but there came a time where I also needed to forget about my troubles and focus on life and love. And drowning myself in alcohol. Writing about something as simple as getting drunk and having fun was also a part of that process.
WE KNOW THEY BOTH HAVE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT VIBES, BUT DO YOU PREFER PLAYING LIVE OR RECORDING MUSIC?
I actually love doing both! If I’m in the studio for a longer period of time, I miss performing. And when we’re on tour, I can’t wait to get back in the studio! We try to combine it so that there’s always new music being created and I can draw inspiration from life on tour. Mixing it up keeps me on my toes.
HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE DENMARK’S MUSIC SCENE TO THE UK SCENE?
I guess the biggest difference is that the UK scene is broader, which makes perfect sense since the country is much bigger. The majority of the Danish music on radio is sung in Danish. There is more Scandi-Pop, but there’s definitely also influences from both the UK and America. I wouldn’t say I neccessarily prefer one to the other, I like the fact that both places have their own soul.
SINCE YOU’RE INVOLVED IN THE CHOREOGRAPHY FOR MOST OF YOUR MUSIC VIDEOS, LET’S TALK ABOUT WHEN YOU LEARNT TO DANCE AND WHY YOU’RE SO INVOLVED…
I love dancing. To me, music and dancing are tightly connected, an extention of each other really. It’s simply another way of expressing your feelings. I used to dance ballet and modern jazz as a kid, but now I just freestyle. I don’t think about it too much, just whatever comes to me naturally. Music is something you feel, and I can’t ever stand still while I’m performing. I’m the friggin’ energizer bunny, [laughs]! I like to be involved in the choreography in the videos because it’s important to me how the dancing visually supports the song. Luckily I work with great choreographers. They’re the ones doing all the hard work, I just get to do the fun stuff.
WHAT’S THE MOST VALUABLE LESSON YOU’VE LEARNT AS AN ARTIST?
Be you, nothing else matters. Your mind can easily get confused in this everchanging creative world of fame, fortune, social media and other people’s opinions. Staying honest to yourself, your wishes and your needs is probably the best way to stay on your right path.
WOULD YOU GIVE YOUR YOUNGER SELF ANY ADVICE IF YOU COULD?
Yes. Follow your heart always and be more self assured. You got this.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE GROWING UP IN DENMARK, IS THERE SUPPORT FOR CREATIVES?
It’s been good. I have my family and my friends. I grew up in a tough neighbourhood but I always felt safe, and though my parents didn’t have a lot of money, I always felt we had enough. Denmark is a small country with a strong support and school system, compared to so many other countries around the world. We pay high taxes, but we don’t have to pay to go to school or the doctor. There are many different possibilities here.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE FROM YOU IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
I’m working on new material in the studio, so we are already planning for my next release. These are interesting times with a lot going on. Stay posted on my social media pages as I try to update my news their first.
Listen to the remix package of ‘Drunk’ here
Nabiha wears: trousers LEAF XIA / choker, top & jacket VINTAGE / heels EGO