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HLN Meets the Musician: Nadedja

We catch up with the new kid on Newcastle’s musical block to find out how the North East compares with Brazil, why music means adventure, and how all of life’s problems can probably be solved with a grand piano.

Written by Becky Hardy
Published 26.08.2021

Growing up in small-town Brazil, Nadedja dreamed of adventure.

She dreamed of jetting off to new, exotic places, discovering big cities, traversing indomitable landscapes and immersing herself in new cultures. Why? Well, because of music.

In a country where the charts are dominated by genres that are uniquely South American – bossa nova, samba or sertanejo, for example – Nadedja was drawn to the ‘international’ scene, where English-speaking pop, rock and blues reign supreme. That musical exploration quickly fuelled a desire to travel and an ambition to try her hand at becoming a professional musician herself. And what better pilgrimage to make than to the unsurpassable climes of the North East of England?

What’s interesting is that, despite moving to Newcastle during a global pandemic and having limited opportunities to really stretch her musical legs, Nadedja has been the most recommended artist we’ve interviewed to date.

Of course, her talent speaks for itself. Nadedja’s bread and butter is that irresistible simplicity of a solo singer armed with a piano and a melancholic melody. But add a cheeky dash of electronica into the mix and you’ve got music that’s intriguing, modern and unique.

And it’s proving popular, fast. Since she began releasing music last year, Nadedja has gained national airplay on BBC Radio 6, was chosen as one of Spotlight UK’s ‘Upstarts of 2021’ and has been awarded the esteemed Help Musician’s ‘Do It Differently’ fund, as well as securing her spot on Sage Gateshead’s Summer Studios. But what is also clear is that Nadedja is popular with her fellow artists and creatives. Sure, her talent is incredible. But what’s more is that she has immersed herself completely in the North East’s music scene, offering her support where she can and creating lasting relationships in a notoriously tough industry.

We caught up with the adopted Geordie at popular HLN haunt Cake Stories to have a chat over a coffee and some cake, (but of course). Oh yeah, we recorded a High Life North exclusive performance of Nadedja performing her brand new single, ‘Bittersweet Move’, with the help of our friends over at Edge, too. Perks of our job, eh?

 

How would you describe your musical style?

Somewhere between that of a singer/songwriter and an alternative pop artist. I like to mix live instruments and mellow chords with electronic sounds.

 

When did you first realise you had a passion for music?

I started writing my first songs when I was 12. I used to write in journals before then, so when I started learning how to play instruments it just transitioned naturally into writing music. It wasn’t very good, because I was very young! But it was a start. And I completely fell in love with music, even when it was something I only did for myself.

What made you pursue music as a career, rather than just as a hobby?

When I still lived in Brazil, I was studying towards a degree in Design & Architecture. Music was something I did, but it was always a hobby. When I came to the UK, I realised I had to start over anyway, even if I wanted to pick up my Design & Architecture studies. I figured this was my chance to choose anything that I wanted to do going forward. And music was always what I kept coming back to.

Part of me was scared that if I chose to do something I loved so much as a job, I’d somehow lose my passion for it. That if I had to work on my music every day, it would make me feel less inclined to write songs. But that never happened. In fact, it was the opposite – because I work in music, I’m learning so much all the time. It’s expanding my possibilities so much now it’s my profession.

 

Why did you settle in the North East?

My husband! He’s from here. We met in North America and we initially moved to Darlington, but we eventually decided to move to Newcastle. I love this city so much.

Who would you say are some of your biggest musical influences?

Growing up, I listened to a lot of Norah Jones and Sara Bareilles. I’ve always loved the sound of a singer and their piano. I love a bit of sad pop! But now my interests have transitioned into alt-pop and indie-pop more too. Maggie Rogers, Sigrid, Lorde, those are the artists who really influence me now. And if I’m thinking outside of English-speaking singers, there’s a singer in Brazil called Céu, who I love, and a Spanish singer called Rosalía, who is amazing too.

You’ve lived in Brazil, North America and the UK. Do you think travelling has impacted your love of music?

Definitely. Growing up, I loved listening to music that, in Brazil, we call ‘international’. Basically, music from English-speaking countries – pop, rock, blues, jazz. As a kid, I would wonder what it would be like to learn a language like English, think in that language and write in that language… I was fascinated. So, music was definitely something that shaped my desire to live abroad. Experiencing new cultures, going to gigs and learning about another music scene was always a dream.

That was why I applied for a scholarship to study in the US. That was my first experience of living away from my parents. It was insane and it was hard at times, but I loved it. Since then, I’ve never felt like I wanted to go back home. That’s just who I am, I love to explore. I’m always exploring in a musical sense, but actually living in these places is so cool because you absorb so much.

 

How would you describe the North East’s music scene?

It’s honestly the best! Since coming here to Newcastle, I’ve met a lot of friends who are also musicians and these people are everything to me. They have really made the whole building-a-life-abroad thing so much better. I love doing interviews like this, playing my gigs, watching other artists play and just being a part of this community. I genuinely feel like I can talk to people here and ask for anything, and there are always so many cool opportunities. It’s such a supportive environment.

Where can we next see you play live?

There’s a festival coming to Darlington on Saturday 4th September called Last Train Home, which I’ll be playing. There are a lot of artists from the North East’s scene who will be playing there too, which is really cool.

I’m also set to do a very special performance at Sage Gateshead, which we haven’t even announced yet. I’ll be performing with some of the other artists who’ve been involved in their Summer Studios residency, which is a dream. That’s going to be in October.

 

Tell us what you’ve been doing as part of your Summer Studios residency at Sage Gateshead.

The Summer Studios are immersive, one week-long residencies where you focus on nothing but your music. You get assigned to a rehearsal room, and music specialists from different areas come in throughout the week to host workshops. There’s a focus on health and wellbeing as much as making it in music – we had a yoga workshop, a talk from a GP focusing on the physical and mental health of performing artists and a workshop on navigating social media. So they cover all kinds of topics.

We also get the chance to record a live session at Sage and you get to pick how you want to perform. In my case, it was: oh, I just want a grand piano, thank you!

 

You’ve also been awarded Help Musicians ‘Do It Differently’ funding recently. How are you planning on using that?

Help Musicians are helping me record and release my new single. I’m so excited about it, because I feel like it represents the next stage of my music. I’m about to release my debut EP, Transient, which feels like a chapter closing. And the single that Help Musicians are helping me with feels like the next chapter opening.

The funding has enabled me to go to Liverpool to record in the Motor Museum Recording Studio. Some big names have recorded there – the Arctic Monkeys, The 1975, Lianne La Havas – it’s insane! And I’m recording with session musicians, which I’ve never done before. All this wouldn’t be possible unless I got this funding.

There’s other funding available, from organisation like PRS and Arts Council, which is useful for any prospective musicians to know about. You need that investment to reach the next step in your career.

 

You’re planning on releasing your debut EP in October. How would you describe Transient?

The EP is quite reflective. It captures a lot of moments of solitude and growth. Throughout my life, I was always searching for that place where I felt I belonged. I’ve always wanted to explore new places and experience different cultures and I wanted to get that feeling of belonging, somehow. As I was writing this EP, I was figuring out that that feeling comes from me, and not from an external force. So Transient captures those moments where you’re thinking about who you are, what you want and what’s really important to you.

 

Can you tell us about the song you’ve performed exclusively for High Life North?

‘Bittersweet Move’ is probably the most emotional song I’ve ever written. It captures the moment I was realising just how much I was willing to change about myself and what the parts of me were that I needed to accept and protect. Some of the lyrics are: ‘I’m open, but some parts of me remain the same’; ‘I’m mine, before I give myself away’. It’s about that strength that I was gathering with time and with my experiences in life. So this song is very heartfelt.

What advice would you give other women in the North East who may want to pursue a career in music?

Just do it. With anything you believe in really, don’t wait to receive any kind of validation from other people before starting. And remember that you do really believe in it, because this career path can be confusing at times. Remembering the reasons why you’ve chosen to do this and why you love music will bring you back to your craft and to your dream. Also, just ask for help. There are so many supportive women – and men – out there in the industry, you have a lot of allies. Especially here in the North East, our scene is very supportive.

What’s your ultimate career goal?

Being able to live off music and earn enough money so that I don’t need to worry. Growing an audience here in the UK, that’s a big goal for me. And to keep gigging, writing and feeling happy with the music I’m producing.

QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS

Where’s your dream gig?

Either Glastonbury or Rock In Rio.

What was your first gig?

It was at a small festival in my home town. My Dad took me when I was 12 and I loved it.

What was the first album you bought?

Britney by Britney Spears.

What songs or artists got you through the pandemic?

Olivia Dean, she’s incredible – her songwriting is flawless. And Holly Humberstone.

Who would you most like to duet with?

This will probably change with time, but right now I would love to perform with Maggie Rogers. She’s one of my biggest inspirations. She’s incredible to watch live – she owns the stage completely – but performing with her… I’d go crazy!

What album could you listen to on repeat forever?

Heard It In A Past Life by Maggie Rogers. I’ve listened to it non-stop from the time it was released to today!

Which song would you love to record a cover of?

Probably ‘Back In My Body’ from that album.

And one song you wish you’d written yourself?

‘Manhattan’ by Sara Bareilles. I think it’s so beautiful.

Sara Bareilles wrote the Broadway musical Waitress. Would you ever want to do a side project like that?

Yes! She’s written a musical, she’s written music for a TV show and now she’s starring in another TV show… Sara Bareilles can do anything! But yeah, I would love to do stuff like that one day. I used to be part of independent musical groups back in Brazil.

Who is another local artist we should really look out for?

bigfatbig. They’re amazing!

 

To find out more about Nadedja, stay in the loop with all her new releases and be the first to find out about her upcoming gigs, check out her website, Facebook page and Instagram

 

Click below to watch the High Life North exclusive performance of Nadedja performing her brand new single, ‘Bittersweet Move'

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