ASBO Meets: NAHLI
Whilst people can pinpoint a number of issues that the discovery of streaming has brought us, one thing we can’t fault is the discovery of new artist that have appeared through random playlists whether personalised or not. And for us one of those discoveries has been Essex born artist on the rise NAHLI whose latest EP Therapy Side A made our ears do a double-take. We had a chance to catch up with the singer to talk about the EP, going solo, the 5 stages of grief and more.
How did you get started in music?
My parents have always been really into music both my mum and dad are singers my brother is a guitarist and so I’ve been around music all my life. I would go to my mums shows when I was younger and she’d introduce me to everybody she was working with so I was always surrounded by musicians. So it was just something that was always going to happen it was in my blood to do. However I wasn’t always going to go down the route of music I got into perfumery our family had a perfumery house and at the time I wasn’t sure if music was something I wanted to do if I wanted to follow in my parents footsteps and unfortunately I just decided to try it and since then I haven’t looked back.
What sort of music did you grow up listening to?
My mom had a very eclectic taste when I was growing up. I was listening to Etta James, ABBA, Elvis Presley. My dad introduced me to Michael Jackson. There wasn’t anything genre-wise I was listening it just constantly changed. When I hit my teens I was listening to Eminem and then the next minute I was listening to Hear’Say. So yeah that is also why I feel like with my own music I don’t stick to any particular genre myself.
Have you developed your sound through any particular influences or has it been experimental?
When I had been in a girl group that I had been in when I was younger and the group disbanded I actually stopped doing music for a full year and I got a regular 9-5 job. It was a really emotional transition for me coming out of music, and around that time I met a guy and we got engaged and when that broke up I had a flood of emotions I didn’t know where to put any of them so then I started speaking with DaVinChe who was one our producers and collaborators in the group about getting back into music I knew that I just wanted to write about every emotion I was feeling. There wasn’t a particular sound or anything, in particular, I just walked in the studio and because we had known each other so well he followed all the energy I was giving off and we would just sit and play with notes and he dug out of me what I was feeling. So we didn’t plan to make any particular sound or genre it just came out exactly how it came out.
What was your experience of stepping out as a Solo artist having previously been in a group before?
Initially, it was really weird. I had my first gig with a few songs that I had written and I walked up on stage and I kept looking to see the girls there. It was weird to feel that I was completely on my own and it was a very weird transition at first. I felt very vulnerable I felt like instead of me sharing the stage and sharing the attention I had 100% of everybody’s attention and I could really feel it. However, those feelings and nerves really helped me to grow because if I hadn’t been in that uncomfortable position I wouldn’t have been able to learn how to combat it realise that being by myself was the best thing that was meant to be. I feel like being a solo artist has shown me who I am as a person and that I can get through nerves I used to battle with and that I can be my own individual person and show everybody who I am.
You have recently released your first EP Therapy Side A. Tell us about what that was like putting the project together as your first body of work as a solo artist?
Therapy Side A and Therapy Side B which is coming soon is basically about the 5 Stages of grief denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. It starts with Relapse because at that time I didn’t know if I going to running back to my ex fiancé and I was going to relapse and it goes on to end in Mummas Boy which is my anger phase and that was when I was bitter and I couldn’t understand.
Then Side B is all about the acceptance of it all and understanding that everything in life happens for a reason and you can’t change the path that is in front of you sometimes and things that don’t work you just have to just accept them. And no matter how things happen in life you have to move on and for me it is a process and I wanted to share my process with people because as a human we are all built the same and I know they are people that struggle with loss and I just wanted to create something that people could relate too and I wanted to uplift people feel like they are not on their own. And when I was going through it I would’ve loved to have someone who understood what I was going through and that’s why I called it Therapy because it was my therapy and it helped me through the most difficult time in my life.
Having Side A out, what has that initial response been like?
I have had a really overwhelming response, I expected a few people to say they liked the songs and the EP but I’ve had some really deep beautiful messages from people talking how inspired they are and how they have been able to relate to specific things on the EP. It’s just such an amazing response that I couldn’t have even dreamed off, I’m not necessarily watching the streams or watching how many people have downloaded I’m doing it because I genuinely to my core happy that people are finding solace through my words and so that’s the most the experience I could ask for.
And so how in this response does it make you feel in terms of the lead up to Side B?
I feel like it just makes me more excited for Side B. Side B is even more uplifting whereas Side A was a more emotional process whereas Side B is really uplifting and that’s what I can’t wait for people to hear.
When putting the project together did you approach it as a whole and then split them up or did you each approach each side individually?
The first song that was written on the EP was Blake and that was a whole year ago. It has been a really slow process because I couldn’t write about each emotion until I had gone through it. So when I was feeling each of the feelings like when I wrote Relapse that’s because that’s how I was feeling at the time. I don’t think I wrote Mumma’s Boy until 6 months later because of the growth process of my healing took me that amount of time. So some of them were written as soon as the breakup happened songs like Blake and Relapse but then it took me a while to get to Mumma’s Boy because I couldn’t write about those feelings at that time.
How do you feel as a person you have grown having been in the industry for the amount of time that you have?
I feel like I am a completely different person. When I first started, I was living in Essex and was constantly driving in and out of London so I never really knew much about London I didn’t really understand the London culture. I didn’t know a huge amount of UK Music so I had to really learn and get into the UK music and the more I got into it the more I loved it and realized what an amazing music scene we have and I was a touch away from being in Essex which is such a completely vibe and so as I moved to London I realized so much is about music and people come together for music and people go to live shows it’s just a completely different thing from what I experienced. I learned so much about so many different genres of music, I had never listened to grime and other types of music. I’m just a completely different person and I have grown up in so many different ways as well coming here and living on my own its been an amazing transition.
Where do you see yourself going with your music in terms of where your sound is going?
I’m going to definitely stick to the live element that I have in my music. I’ve got an amazing bassist called Lawrence Insula who is really talented and he comes in and plays all live base across my music and there is another guy called Thomas Totten who is an amazing guitarist and what they do is they come in and bring this live element to all my music. We’ve also got live strings and I want to always keep that live element to all my music so whatever avenue I grow into I’m not sure what that’s going to be yet I’m bringing new vibes new energy. I don’t want it to change too much because I’m really enjoying where I am right now, but I am definitely open to growing whichever way that may be. Having DaVinChe on board with me he is really amazing at showing me direction because he’s been in the music world for so long, he is very good at taking us to the right direction creatively. In terms of where we are going next, we are just going to keep growing I am always going to be true to my honesty and I’m always going to sing about real events and experiences.
What can we expect next?
Up next is Side B which should be coming soon. I would love to do a tour its very early days but I would love to bring the EP to a live crowd and then I think next year I would definitely like to start writing my album. So just more creating and growing and all definitely watch this space.
Therapy Side A is available now on all digital platform and you can check it out here
Words: Seneo Mwamba