Goth-folk singer/songwriter Nadine Shah grew up in a small English town called Whitburn Tyne and Wear. Born to a Pakistani father and Norwegian mother, she soon found herself in London singing jazz standards and soon started composing songs inspired by Billie Holliday infused with inspiration from the Hindu Ghazals sung by her father. Producer Ben Hillier (Blur, Elbow, Doves, Depeche Mode) helped add a sonic punch to songs mostly composed with just a piano.
I recently interviewed Nadine.
Amy Steele: You grew up in a small town in England. How did you become interested in singing and playing music?
Nadine Shah : Boredom! haha seriously though, I think it was just because it was apparent from a young age that I had a good voice and it just made sense to pursue that rather than something I wasn’t so good at.
Amy Steele: Were your parents first-generation immigrants? If so how does that affect your music?
Nadine Shah: Yeah my dad was born in Pakistan. I think maybe some of his culture may have influenced my vocal, but not so much the actual music. He has a great singing voice himself and sings these religious sufi songs called “Ghazals”, they’re beautifully sad love songs. People sometimes say my music reminds them of these songs but I don’t really see the similarity.
Amy Steele: What type of musical training did you have in your youth?
Nadine Shah: Not much, I was involved in a few amateur theatre productions. We were classically trained vocally but it wasn’t very intense training. It definitely taught me some good tricks and to get rid of lots of bad habits I had picked up vocally. It put a stop to me trying to imitate Mariah Carey 😦
Amy Steele: I read that you write songs in pubs. So you write the words first and then come up with a melody? What is your song-writing process?
Nadine Shah: I don’t really have one certain way of writing. Just whatever works. I write lyrics often and i write piano parts often too. Sometimes I’ll write both at the same time, I wish I could work out a simpler formula!
Amy Steele: When did you start performing out?
Nadine Shah: I’m been performing since a really young age, but i’ve only been performing my own compositions for 3 years.
Amy Steele: what was it like working with producer Ben Hiller?
Nadine Shah: Sensible, we start at a reasonable hour and finish at a reasonable hour haha. He’s great, he’s a really talented guy. He’s not only technically gifted but also creatively. I think the album is a real collaboration between the two of us.
Amy Steele: What influences you?
Nadine Shah: I think I’m mainly drawn to more macabre subjects, I heard a great quote by a poet named Philip Larkin the other day which I think sums it up nicely “Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth.”
Amy Steele: Does your darker music reflect your personality/ mood or is that just a style you prefer?
Nadine Shah: I really don’t know, maybe both but I’d prefer to think it’s just the latter.
Amy Steele: Have you heard Chelsea Wolfe? That might be a good double-bill.
Nadine Shah: I had heard the name but never actually listened to their music. Just Googled and her voice is beautiful, the music sounds wonderful. Thanks for the tip! Let’s give Chelsea a call..
Amy Steele: What makes a good song?
Nadine Shah: If I knew that I’d have golden monkeys typing this for me whilst me and Kanye West swam in my pool of dollar bills.
Amy Steele: What artists do you like to listen to?
Nadine Shah: All kinds, really ALL kinds. I’ll just give you a little list of what i’m listening to right now..Arthur Russell, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Pixies, Diana Ross, Dirty Projectors, The Maccabees, Daft Punk, Retriever, Das Racist, Nina Simone.
purchase at Amazon: Love Your Dum & Mad