Photo Credit: Madeleine BishopHi Nina, we hope you’re well. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your musical background. Heya, I’m a composer and multi-instrumentalist from Philadelphia.
Where and when did music begin for you personally?
Before I dropped out of high school I had an hour of “music class” each day where the teacher sat in his office and basically let students do whatever. I was super shy and isolated myself in a tiny piano practice room everyday to avoid the metalhead kids that occupied most of the physical & sonic space. I spent months writing one very simple progression, just sort of blindly hitting whatever keys sounded nice together and building from there. That is basically what I’m still doing to this day.
We’re really enjoying the singles you have been releasing, especially ‘Hereditary Trauma Dream Sprinting (Oxford Circle)’ and cannot wait to hear your debut album (Released: August 30th). How does it feel to be releasing your music into the world and are you excited for the album release?
Thanks. It feels really good. I had so much self doubt in making this album and hadn’t shared it with more than one or two people during the process. I wasn’t sure if any part of the album belonged within this genre so it’s been validating to get some positive feedback.
As a trans woman composer and multi-instrumentalist, have you found it challenging to break into the industry?
I’ve only started releasing music a few weeks ago so we’ll see I guess.
Do you think more can be done to provide more opportunities to both trans and women composers and if so, how? Or do you think enough is being done currently?
Certainly more can be done. Labels definitely need to work on their rosters if they are majority male (also majority white).
Again I’m still new to this world, but I’ve had too many conversations with cis men who scoff at me for attempting to make music in this genre without having studied such and such white male composer from centuries ago. It’s the same men who think they’re being subversive for saying they enjoy one Rihanna song. It really grosses me out that I’ve been told multiple times now whether or not a song of mine is “smart”. There’s something about this metric within classical music specifically that reeks of misogyny. I don’t think I’d be getting this feedback if I were making pop music. Like so many areas of my life, I’m weary to learn what parts of my femininity need to be muted in order to be taken seriously by men.
Where do you start with the compositional process?
Most of this album was written and practiced on the piano for months and recorded all at once in the few days after having my piano tuned. Then I’d overdub everything on top of those recordings. I’m hoping to move away from this method in the future. I think the next album won’t rely on piano for a foundation as much.
What do you think about your process that is unique to you?
I try not to hold anything too sacred with the recording. There’s plenty of editing done in ableton and definitely some autotune on my flute because I’m terrible at playing it, but a lot of it is intentionally left out of tune. Also I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to create modular synth textures that feel unique to me without straying from the aesthetic. This is honestly the most time consuming part it’s so dumb lol.
Any other artists you’re listening to right now?
I really love Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch’s album “Époques” and Ana Roxanne’s EP “~~~” recently. I probably listen to more pop music than anything. “Pop 2” by Charli XCX is my favorite.
What are your plans for after you have released the album?
I’m just now starting to figure out a live set and work on a second album. I really want to make music for a film. I also want to start collaborating with other people more.