Nina Lee - Interview
The W.A M. Awards celebrate the year’s most outstanding independent artists from around the world in multiple genres and categories. "Best Song" and "Best Album" nominations were based on Artistry, Musicianship, Originality, Professionalism, Diversity, and Excellence. W.A.M. stands for "We Are the Music Makers.' Nina Lee's song "Lift Up" was the 2020 W.A.M. Award Winner for Best Song in the Social Justice / Peace category.
What got you into music?
To be perfectly honest, I don’t think anything ever got me into music, I was always just in it, or it in me. Music was and always has been what makes me smile, what allows me to connect and feel like I’m on top of the world. My parents say that they always knew I was destined to be a musician, especially my dad who is very musical as well. It was never something I considered a hobby, it was always what I was put on earth to do, and I still truly feel music is what brings purpose to my life.
What is your favorite part about being an artist? Is it songwriting, performing, recording, something else?) Tell us why.
My favorite part is the artistry as a whole. In such different ways though. Performing onstage is what makes my heart skip a beat, it is what allows me to be free. When I am onstage I reach a state of true euphoria, I feel like I can do anything. Songwriting is a particularly special thing for me because it is such a personal thing, yet it has the potential to touch so many people. The act of connecting to someone else through my words has always been overwhelming for me. I love to be in the studio as well, I feel a calm and such an ease being in such a creative space. If I am working with someone I really gel with, it’s ten times better!
Can you tell us what being in the recording studio is like for you?
I think that a recording studio is only as amazing as the people that are working in it. Working with different producers really feels like blind dating, because sometimes you hit it off and sometimes it’s a flop. When you do hit it off, there is this special little bubble that is created which I call “the magic” and whoever is in the room feels it. Being able to feel excited about something, and feel connected to someone else’s ideas is such a gratifying feeling to be able to share with another person or people. I love hearing how a song can start off one way, and end in a completely different one based on how it is recorded and produced. That’s the beauty of being able to try new things- if you like it you keep it, if you don’t no harm no foul.
As a songwriter or musician, are there any obstacles you have had to overcome or obstacles that you are facing right now in your career?
This is a question that is true for every single person regarding his or her profession. Human beings go through hardships, and especially in an industry where you are making music and asking to be judged based upon that, it can get a little intimidating. I think that it is all about feeling good in yourself first and surrounding yourself with like minded people. Having someone believe in you, even when you don’t is so important. I have definitely had my fair share of hurdles, and I continue to have them and I think that is life. Being able to defy the odds, and prove people wrong is always what has been motivating for me.
Who do you admire most in the music scene today and why?
I still admire people in the industry who paved the way for a singer like me. Even though she is no longer alive, I am awestruck and inspired by Amy Winehouse every time I listen to her. I love musicians who are authentically raw and have imperfections they are not afraid to hide. Thinking of currently, I have really been into Jorja Smith recently. I love that her music makes me feel something, and that is what I am searching for whenever I listen to music.
To date, what do you think your best song is? Can you describe the song for us?
There are definitely some that are better than others, and I know that a lot of people have their opinions on which songs they like best of mine but I really can’t answer that. Of all of my favorites that I have written, I feel they each bring something special that comes truly from my heart. A song that has been around for a long time that I still love is called “Try To Break Me.” I wrote in when I was 12 years old as an anti- bullying awareness anthem, and it was evolved over almost a decade with me, and is always one I start or end my shows with.
Are you working on any new material right now or what's in the works for the upcoming year?
I’m always working on material. Parts of of what becomes a full fleshed out song sometimes can come in 20 minutes, or sometimes in 2 weeks. It all depends. During quarantine I have been writing more than I ever have, and I have a great collection of new songs to put out in the world as soon as I possibly can!
Tell us where fans can access your music?
About Nina Lee Nina loves the feeling of crushed velvet against her skin Cade 26 burning in her apartment The idea of the underground railroad at the Waldorf Astoria Reliving a memory through smell Aperol Spritzes The tea in the hair salon that she can’t recall the name of that has a ginger-orange type of flavor
The voice of Amy Winehouse Dogs Hands Silk blazers The Great Gatsby and the Paradiso Bar in Barcelona Late night swimming in the ocean Nina will always be found with hand sanitizer in her purse, preferably lavender scented. The sunsets in Atlantic Beach on summer nights The specificity of children's handwriting and the innocence that it encapsulates Tye dye t-shirts and charcoal face masks, and tradition She loves to experience culture Rao’s in East Harlem But she will always go for sushi no matter what time of day The smell of the Upper West Side after it rains Nina appreciates that we don’t know what tomorrow brings The comfort of a yellow cab Raspy voices, the smell of a cigar The fear that is life And the urge to pass every hurdle put in front of her At a gathering if asked to sing, the answer is always yes.