British newcomer Nahli teams up with Big Narstie on new track ‘Catch 22’

Hailing from Essex, and living in East London, Nahli is a multifaceted talent. Her soulful sound is rich with tender feeling and her unapologetic songwriting and delivery is mature beyond her years.

We chatted to Nahli about her collaboration with Big Narstie and what it’s like being a female artist in 2020.

How have you been? Have you found yourself being more creative in Lockdown?

Hi! Well, I started the year off with a snapped shin bone after trying to skateboard after a couple of Prosecco’s, so, not the best entrance into 2020. I’m a calamity. Then we went straight into lockdown so I’m going to say I’ve actually been great recently because this half of the year has been a million times better than the first half let me tell you!! I learnt a lot about myself during some of those darker days so I’m coming out the other end of this year with a higher understanding of myself which I’m really grateful for. I wouldn’t even go back and change it. I’ve learnt a lot of lessons. I picked up a paintbrush because I was pretty immobile, and it’s turned into a whole extra side to NAHLI that I wasn’t expecting at all. I’ve sold quite a few pieces now. Crazy!! I love creating huge colourful paintings of naked girls. What’s not to love. 

Tell us about ‘Catch 22’. How did your collaboration with Big Narstie come about?

‘Catch 22’ is about a dude from the music industry. I was always warned not to date within the industry because it can be difficult and problematic, but I ignored everyone and jumped in feet first. Drowned, though.

Catch 22 is about being stuck in a situation where you love the person, but they start just lying to your face about things. There’s no real proof, they’re just instincts we feel sometimes. Women’s intuition. But we KNOW. So, deep down I just wanna go through their phone and work out whether I’m wrong about them, but that phone got a lock, a triple lock on it. So, we plod along and hope for the best but it becomes so draining. It’s difficult these days because everything is so fast-moving. We jump into bed with each other too fast and then we’re all out here catching feelings for the wrong people and trying to turn situationships into relationships and wonder why it’s not working.

Big Narstie is a friend of the label, Rebel Records. He heard the track which previously had no feature on, and he really liked it, so he jumped on the track. I couldn’t believe my ears when I got the call. His verses are hilarious.

How did you first get started in music? Was there one moment you knew that this was something you wanted to pursue?

Music has been a huge part of my life since I can remember. I fought it and fought it for years because both my parents are singers and I thought my life was meant to be on a different path to them, but I couldn’t fight it for long. It’s in my veins. It’s drummed into my whole being. I find it both frustrating and something I’m obsessed with at the same time, it’s difficult to explain. I do know the exact moment I made the decision, though. I was in a really traumatic relationship with an abusive partner and I cried up to the moon one time and something, somewhere channelled all my thoughts towards music. I got this rush of emotion that told me I’d find a solace there. So, I listened. And here I am.

We’re super excited for your EP which is set for release in 2021, what can you tell us about it?

The second EP is sassier. I’m stronger this time. The first EP I wrote while I was in a heavy place and I felt very emotionally weighed down by my own self. I think it’s apparent in the music, in the lyrics. I was a whirlwind of emotions at that time. Now, though…I’m happy. I’ve learnt a lot. I have a track called ‘Red Flag’ which is like a checklist for girls on what to watch out for. It’s actually brilliant, I had such a great time writing that one with the boys. Lots of story sharing! I’m usually the only girl in the room when we create, and I get to hear all the inside information and put it all into music haha! I’m almost sharing like ‘My Rule Book’ this time. Empowering us all.

Who would be your dream collaboration and why?

My dream collaboration would be DUCKWRTH. I love him. I love his music. I love his style. In an IDEAL WORLD, I’d have a track that said – NAHLI feat. The Neptunes….!!! I’d die.

What’s the hardest thing about being a woman in an industry that is dominated by men?

This industry really is dominated by men. Many many many things can be hard, and I feel unheard sometimes. I feel like you have to really curate your team so carefully. My team are amazing, and I’m so blessed to have them, but that doesn’t mean to say that I don’t still struggle. I find that I can be in a room and feel quite powerless sometimes. You have to voice your opinion ten times louder than a man has to unless you’re in the right team. And if you DO voice your opinion loudly, you have to then explain why you’re being loud. So, your team is so important. My people are really genuinely lovely people. I love all of them very dearly.

Do you think the pandemic has changed the way artists create? Is this something that was hard to adjust to?

Yeah, of course. I mean, we don’t have any live shows. Studios are difficult to come by at the moment because of the rules and regulations. But, the great thing about it is that we have all had to find other ways to achieve the things we need to. I’ve seen so much creativity this year and it’s really something special. I’ve been non-stop painting and I cannot believe where I’ve ended up with it. It’s so cool to have added another string to my bow, and I absolutely wouldn’t have dedicated so much time to my art before. I’m loving that people are opening their own businesses from home and finding things they love doing.

It wasn’t hard for me to adjust at all, I love spending time indoors. I enjoyed having the extra time to work on myself. I needed it. I really did. I had a lot on my shoulders.

Once we turn back to some normality, what’s one thing you’re most looking forward to?

TRAVELLING. My god. I used to just book a ticket and travel alone. I love it. I’d save all my pennies up to go to different places. I worked in Tesco’s at 16 years old to save as much as I could and I took myself to the Maldives. My mum thought I was nuts, but it was the best thing I ever did. I also am dying to go order a tonne of oysters, I’m obsessed. I just miss my friends. I wanna go to Canada. I wanna go to see my new baby cousin in Australia. I miss my grandparents, they’re over in Australia too. I just can’t wait for FREEDOM. I might even try surfing. See if I manage to break the other leg, who knows. I am so clumsy it’s the most annoying part of myself.

What’s the theme tune to your life?

Zero 7 – Destiny. No particular reason why it’s just my favourite song.

What’s next for you?

I’m hoping to do an art exhibition next year! Plus, live shows. PLUS, the EP launch. I’m hoping to go out to LA and do some work over there too. I have my diary jam-packed for the year (in my head). If COVID gets in the way of those plans, I’m not gonna be mad about it. I’m just gonna continue to write music and paint and see where I end up. I’ve managed to get myself into a mindset where absolutely nothing can get in my way. Maybe I’ll find another hobby to get obsessed with. I can’t ever just try my hand at something, I pick something and become obsessed. I always wanna see how far I can push myself. Which is great most of the time but being a perfectionist, it can be really frustrating. Must be the Capricorn in me! So, maybe next time you ask me I’ll be a pro archer or something weird.

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