Photos: Meek Zuiderwyk
At just the tender age of 25, Nadia Reid performs with the poise and temperament of an artist beyond her years, characterised by her ethereal tone, meditative lyricism and lovelorn folky charm. In person, she is soft, thoughtful, and eloquent. From her debut as a delicate singer-songwriter with Listen to Formation, she has blossomed over the last couple of years and developed a grittier sound, with added complexities and diversities to her second album, Preservation.
Growing up in the idyllic landscape of Duniden, New Zealand, Reid was exposed to a varied palette of musical genres. She reflects on how she used to take part in open mic nights in hometown venues, and was taken to folk music festivals with her mother, where artists were able to write their names down on a blackboard and play a couple of songs. “I’d say I had a pretty supportive start,” she says. Surrounded by the likes of Joni Mitchell, Miles Davis and the Beatles as a child, she went on to discover musicians that really resonated with her. “I found artists I really liked like Jolie Holland, The Be Good Tanyas, Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright,” she adds. “I feel like I have an eclectic taste in music. I love listening to the radio and the top 50, but I think my true love is sad folk music.”
When it comes to the writing process, Reid draws inspiration from the live setting, keen to reiterate her belief in the power of connecting with an audience. She recalls seeing Tammy Neilson, a country and soul artist who lives in New Zealand – “She just has the most incredible voice that cuts through you” – adding that she equally gains inspiration from broader life, “travelling and walking, reading and observing.”
Her live performances feel just as intimate as her two records, which she says are little snapshots of her life in song-form. Having been praised for their emotional articulacy, Reid puts it down to the writing she used to do before she knew she would become a musician. “As a teenager there was a natural outlet for me, that really helped me make sense of things. Then it naturally turned into songwriting,” she explains. “I guess from the outside the two records would seem really personal, and they are, but I feel like I have this way of keeping the line between truth and the opposite of truth. I like to move them, I like to play with that. If the whole thing was literal and really true then that’s a vulnerable place to be in.”
There’ve been two years since she released her debut, and since then she has evolved her sound. “I think the main progression is that time has passed. When you do something the second time, you know you can do it,” she continues. “When I made my first record I had no idea what I was doing or why, I didn’t even know if I wanted to do it.” The apprehension of Preservation and the response it later received acted as a sort of affirmation for Reid, who explains that “this second record is me a little more on my own two feet, standing a little straighter, a little more confident.”
As she is about to embark on her third, and largest European tour, Reid sounds optimistic – especially as she is travelling from New Zealand’s winter to European summer, Reid says she’s looking forward to enjoying some further sunshine.
Having also been recently nominated for APRA’s Silver Scroll award – New Zealand’s prestigious songwriting award – it’s only a matter of time before Reid is truly recognised for her craft. Before she hits the big time, be sure to catch her performing her touching and beautifully-written album, stopping at the city she was conceived in, Bristol, at the Southbank this month.
Nadia Reid’s second album, ‘Preservation’, is out now on Universal Music New Zealand. She plays the Southbank on 17th August. Check out ‘Richard’ below.