Nadia Reid on Optimism, Musings, + Romance (Q&A)

There’s this famous quote from Bhagavati – “Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.” I’m sure you’ve come across it flipping through your Instagram feed – that same feed that’s the quiet mind’s nemesis. Nadia Reid thinks it may be the culprit: “Yes. Technology. Internet. Lack of nature; moving the body; connection with people.” That’s the undressed candor that makes 24-year old New Zealand folk artist Nadia Reid’s lyricism so pervious. Her song, “Call the Days” bleeds. It drops you on the floor then picks you back up to a warm embrace and never lets you go. The album, “Listen to Formation, Look for the Signs,” is a call to action.  

“Just To Feel Alive” drifts in and out of a hazy reverb like Link Wray’s “Rumble” - its echoes melting into the harmony of her voice, double tracked for your listening pleasure. And just like Link Wray, there’s a faint drag that’s reminiscent of a good old fashioned whiskey hangover. “Holy Loud” is a jolt of a change up, labeled as a bonus track - it’s the one track that seems like less of a meditation and more of an expulsion.

Tonal shifts notwithstanding, the entire album sings the truths of a young woman amidst change. It never falters from disparity and is kind of hopeful in its completion - like that feeling you get after you have cried your heart out and can’t help but let out a quaint laugh.

Do you embrace melancholia as part of your work?

I think I have to. Sadness is part of life. We all feel it. When a person’s interpretation of melancholy, and the healing and processing that surrounds it, connects with another, it can be very moving. I’ve found it in other’s work and I strive towards that in my own.

I ask this because there’s this upbeat undercurrent encompassing the sound too. Or is this just my imagination trying to wipe the melancholia away?

I think within the melancholia, there is a strong current of uplift, and hope. I don’t want my records to paint me as a sad woman. Within these songs there is a great learning, self-reflection, uplight, and hope. I guess this comes through in our rockier-up beat songs. Where, in my head, I’m sort of pulling the finger to something/someone.

On a good day, how good does it get? What is your ecstatic bliss?

There are moments when we totally nail a show, or we’re recording, and we’ve hit the jackpot with a sound, or someone I admire writes about us. and then there’s a sense of being exactly where I’m meant to be, and all this waiting and patience and ploughing on makes it all feel worth it. Artists thrive on recognition. They shouldn’t need it. And I don’t. But it helps make it all feel worthwhile, and that is important. To me.

Do you procrastinate when you’re writing or playing music? If so, what are some of your guiltiest rituals?

At the moment, I’m at my best in the morning, post coffee, when I’m often the only one in the house. I crave that isolation and quietness.

What do you do after you finish a song? Do you believe in a self-reward mentality?

Ha. Not so much. Perhaps I feel a sense of achievement, quietly. I will often play it around and around in my head. I love playing new songs. When the feelings are so fresh, it feels like electricity in the body.

Who or what is your writing muse?

The ones I love, and people around me. All sorts.

What are your 10 desert island items?

Patti Smith, ‘Just Kids’

Writing paper

Antipasto platter

Avocado, lemon, pepper

Coconut oil

Sunshades

Guitar

Puppy

Toilet paper

Who is your desert island companion?

David Bowie

Define romance in 16 words or less.

Accepting the bullshit, alongside the best versions of the other, and loving them, still. Crazily and deeply.

Looking ahead – 8 years from now – what do you see?

Another album or two or three. Have toured the world. More than once? Committed to another human. Living in another country. But most of all, I’d like peace of mind above all. And to feel positive about making art.

Is the glass half empty or full?

Full.

If there is a God, and he/she was to ask you to be critical about his/her work, what would your criticism be?

I’m yet to understand why children go hungry, and why good people leave this world way too early. But I can’t even go there in my mind. It’s way too fucked.

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