Nadia Reid Interview: “In a small way I’m envious of those that work 9 to 5”

nadia reid
Photograph by Meek Zuiderwyk.

Nadia Reid is touring Europe for August / September.

Last year, New Zealand singer / songwriter Nada Reid dropped her second album Preservation. Minimal, vulnerable, and yet absolutely strong and defiant, the album is a cathartic and hypnotic listen that quickly burrows under the listeners skin. Exploring universal themes with an honesty and intelligence that is refreshing, the record demands repeated listens and deeper exploration.

Reid is currently on tour in Europe, and we sat down with her recently to discuss her unique approach to songwriting, her friendship with Aldous Harding, and how New Zealand is inextricably linked to her creations.

Buy tickets for Nadia Reid’s European tour here.

Overblown: You’ve said that the new album, Preservation, is about the point you start to love yourself again. It seems to me that the word ‘preservation’ would suggest that you have had to become more careful and wary to protect yourself. Is that accurate? Or am I way off?

Nadia Reid: I think of the album title as a reference to me attempting to preserve a certain point in my life. To me, it goes hand in hand with why I’ve chosen portraits of myself for my last two records. These records are like musical snapshots in time. They are feelings that I’ve had, turned into song, and put onto a record. It lasts forever, sort of preserved in time in a way. I’m so lucky to be able to do that.

O: I found it interesting that you said that you starve yourself of writing and your guitar so that you will then crave it. What do you thinking this craving adds to the music you write?

NR: I think this may be a strange quirk that I have. I have often removed things in my life. Drugs, coffee, booze. I observe the difference. Removing these things and sometimes my music practice allows me to get a deeper understanding of myself. I don’t do it often but sometimes it’s a great way to re-set. There’s also something nice about missing something in order to appreciate it more. Does that make sense? I’m learning that I really need a creative outlet in my life whether that is writing on paper or on a guitar.

nadia reid
Nadia Reid European tour dates.

O: There’s a song on the new album called ‘Richard’. Is Richard a real person? Or a representation of something?

NR: This song, to me, is hugely metaphorical. It is not literal. I like to blur truth and fiction in my songs. It tends to be subtle. The song ‘Richard’ is about a relationship beginning and ending. The first few listens of this song when we were making the record would bring me to tears. It really is about feeling deeply and utterly in love and having no control in that ending. I look back on that part of my life now and feel so grateful to have met and loved Richard.

O: You have said that an artist must be ‘uncomfortable’. I like that. It seems to me that artists work can become staid and uninteresting once they become comfortable. However, this discomfort must a difficult state to live within. Have you ever wished you could trade artistry for comfort?

NR: Every day. In a small way I am envious of those who work the 9 to 5. I crave stability. I know I could have been very happy in another profession. But I’ve only completed 3 papers of a university degree so I have to give music a good go, and I want to… Reflecting on the last 5 years of my life, all of the good stuff happened when I took a step into the unknown. What I know now is that I can continue being uncomfortable, inquisitive, reflective, curious and also be a happy and healthy person. I think for a while I was worried I’d have to be miserable for the rest of my life in order to write songs, but I don’t believe that to be true at all anymore.

O: You have described New Zealand singer/songwriter Aldous Harding as a “sister from another mister”. What draws you to each other?

NR: Our mothers were friends. We met as children and then re-met in Summer in a forrest at a folk festival outside of Dunedin, New Zealand. Hanna was 16 and I, 15, I think we drank a bottle of Bicardi and she taught me the song ‘Angel Of Montgomery’ a capella. I was spellbound. Then I played her a song I’d been learning, 4 Non Blondes ‘ Whats Up” on guitar. Hanna (Aldous) was the first person to say to me “you have a beautiful voice”. The rest is history really… I’m so proud of her.

O: Another song on the new album is called ‘Te Aro’ which I believe is Spanish for ‘I love you’. What inspired you to name the song in Spanish?

NR: ‘Te Aro’ is a suburb in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. A lot of the songs off Preservation were written while I was living in Wellington. This song is about the period when I was getting panic attacks a lot.. some of them were really terrifying so the song touches on the feelings in and around that period.

O: What is your most treasured memory from your music career thus far?

NR: Selling out two nights at the ‘Port Chalmers Town Hall’ in my hometown in March this year. The shows were for my album release. I’d wanted to put on a show in that hall for years. It was quite a lot of work and I’d organized it all myself. Both of those nights were so memorable for me. I was really proud to be releasing my album in that hall. All of my friends were helping me run the door and bar and one of them bought these beautiful flowers from her garden. It was an awesome celebration that I was very proud of.

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