Initially I felt completely creatively void. I could not even sit down long enough to write a song,” singer Nadia Vaeh confesses when asked how quarantine has impacted her creativity. It is not an unexpected answer as the time spent isolating at home this year has affected everyone in different ways.
Artists throughout the industry have had to face two options during the global pandemic – either accept that they won’t be able to continue creating content the way they have traditionally be able to and wait until they can again, or they could work around the limitations that have been placed in front of them and figure out a new way to pursue their passion.
It took Nadia a bit to get used to the current normal and discover how she could work through a situation no one was prepared for.
“I was completely isolated in my Studio City apartment and was so anxious I would stay on FaceTime calls from the moment I woke ‘til the moment I went to sleep for at least that first couple weeks,” she admits. “My team and my friends really helped me get back to myself, and even writing for other artists was helpful for just getting back in the groove. Now the creativity is back and a-flowin’.”
We wanted to create a feel-good piece that reminds you we are all one in this crazy journey together.
In fact, Nadia has kept herself busy throughout most of quarantine since then. She released three singles, ‘Monroe,’ ‘RiSE,’ and ‘Naked (Remix),’ and even changed her previous plans for the first single’s music video to fit within the limitations from lockdown. Discussing her single releases, the singer opens up about the inspirations behind each one.
“‘Monroe’ was inspired by the women in my life that have helped me feel comfortable taking up space in the world and be my best self,” she says of the women empowerment pop bop that celebrates the differences between women and intends to hold up each other instead of trying to tear each other down. “I reference many celebrity inspirations as well, because many have pioneered the way for myself and my peers to play different roles in this world and industry.”
Nadia’s music video for the single also opened the door for women across the world to be celebrated for who they are, no matter where they are from, what they look like, or how old they may be. The video showcases women, doing whatever they please – be it putting on makeup, relaxing in a bath, or just dancing around – as they sing along to the uplifting lyrics. Shot remotely with each woman filming her own sequence, the video highlights over 50 women globally.
“Honestly, I feel like this was the plan all along,” she says of how the music video had to change because of the pandemic. “I got to collaborate with women from all over the world and craft this amazing piece showcasing how uniquely beautiful the feminine spirit is,” gushes Nadia. There are no regrets on her behalf that her plans didn’t play out the way she originally intended.
“I am so grateful that quarantine altered my plans in this way and I actually made a few new friends through this endeavor as well.” She laughs as she says, “I’ve even been invited to Greece! Post-pandemic plans for sure.”
Of the amazing trailblazing women included in the lyrics for ‘Monroe’, Nadia references the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Ali Wong, Tina Turner, and Janelle Monae. She sings during the bridge, “Yeah, these women are just a few of the reasons I am here today.”
“I really wanted to write about so many more women in that, but ran out of room,” the singer reveals with a laugh. What is an even harder task is picking just one that she looks up to or admires the most. “I can’t really narrow it down to a number one female influence unless I am referencing my mom. She’s my number one inspiration in all that I do and why I am a songwriter today.”
Following the release of ‘Monroe’ in March came her collaborative single ‘RiSE’ in June. The singer says of the song that describes rising above challenges and having the strength in one’s self, “‘RiSE’ was brought about in existential conversations with my cowriters about the fast-paced world in which we live, where it can be tough to just be yourself. We wanted to create a feel-good piece that reminds you we are all one in this crazy journey together.”
I am such a stronger version of the girl who wrote that song.
The song features rapper Hazel Rose who compliments Nadia’s energy incredibly well in her feature despite the fact that two didn’t even record together.
“This was a collab done while in quarantimes,” Nadia says of the time in lockdown, “so we haven’t actually gotten to meet in person yet.” Despite that, she is thrilled to have been able to work with the rapper. “In all of my communications, I can tell [Hazel Rose] is a genuine sweetheart and I love everything she stands for and speaks out on in her music and with her platform.” The singer enthuses, “She brought exactly the energy and vibe I was feeling for the bridge. I actually sat on this song for two years waiting to find the right female rapper. She is it!”
This most recent collaboration has still taught the singer so much about herself as a person and as an artist. “Every collaboration stretches the realm of what I think is possible. I think every time I sit down to write a song, whether it’s alone or with friends/collaborators, there is always a takeaway. Sometimes it can be a lesson in how to handle a personal issue that gets uncovered while writing about that issue and sometimes it’s just a technical thing, like how to create a stronger rhythmic syncopation for the hook,” explains Nadia. “In every song, there is a lesson.”
Nadia didn’t just collaborate with another artist – she also worked with two organizations to receive the proceeds from the song: Love has no Labels and the Human Rights Campaign.
“When I came across ‘Love has no Labels’ and saw their messaging, I felt like they had been inside my heart,” the singer says of what inspired her to pick these organizations. “Then when I saw they were affiliated with HRC, I knew that was the perfect fit for the purpose of ‘RiSE’. HRC does such incredible work to fight for equality, unity, and respect for humans as a collective.”
Nadia even dedicated the proceeds to these organizations in honor of Pride Month, as shown in her in-studio video for ‘RiSE’ where, during the behind the scenes video, she also shows off her own dance moves.
Of course, every song earns some of its own dance moves, whether it’s swaying to the beat or a growing dance craze on TikTok. The video is just a taste of what fans can expect once it is safe to tour and enjoy concerts in-person once more.
“I am just so excited to share music with people in real life again,” the singer dreams of life post-COVID. “I miss the stage and my plants are getting tired of seeing me try to twerk.”
The last of her recent singles is a remix of a song that came out almost exactly a year ago. Speaking of the song she originally released last year, Nadia says, “‘Naked’ was written from a pretty tough experience back when I was first pursuing my artistry. I was hurt and screwed over by people I respected and thought respected me. I felt like maybe I just wasn’t cut out for the music industry and that maybe I should give up.” However, she channeled what she does best instead. “It was in writing this song I regained my strength to continue forward and decided to never let one event dictate my future in a negative way.”
I think rejection is a big part of life and it’s so important to just let it inspire you to keep growing and moving forward.
In the year since the initial release, life has changed more than anyone has anticipated. Though no one could have predicted a global pandemic like this, one could definitely tell that success was coming Nadia’s way.
“At the end of the bridge of this song, I wrote the lyrics, ‘I’ll be over here, living the dream.’ I can say that’s pretty well manifested itself.” That’s not the only change though. “I have grown so much not only within my career but also within my spirit. I am such a stronger version of the girl who wrote that song. That very song catapulted me into a beautiful growth process.”
Her growth is reflected in the remix, something that Nadia herself notes. “I think you can really feel the aftermath of what this song created for me personally,” she describes. “The production is so fun, uplifting, and dance-y; Drew really took this remix to the exact space I am feeling energetically now that I have let go of so much of what the song is based around.”
It is a nearly impossible task to not start to move when the remix comes on. Whether it is just a nod of the head and a tapping of one’s foot or resulting in full-body dance moves, listeners easily find themselves swallowed into music.
“I wanna see people move to this!!” she exclaims. “Send me videos of you sliding in your socks on your hardwoods, please!!”
Sliding around in one’s socks definitely unlocks some old, forgotten childhood memories for any fans who attempt it. Music has always been all around us, yet it sings so exceptionally loud to those who harness the talent to create and celebrate it. For Nadia, her memories of music thrumming within her soul can take her back to when she was just a toddler. “Probably being two or three years old and floppily dancing at a park and just living for the live music I was experiencing,” she says of her earliest memory involving music.
When your work is something you literally wake up and stay up for, it can really take a toll if not kept in check.
However, it took a bit longer for Nadia to decide that music is where her life was taking her, professionally and personally. She recalls, “I was living a life I was just not feeling fulfilled with. I was working in fashion, studying marketing, and dating a great guy and living in a nice loft in Atlanta, but I knew I was pretty far alienated from my purpose and myself.” Like an alarm ringing in her head, suddenly her world was turned on its back. “I woke up one morning and flipped everything upside down and quit everything in my ‘old life’ and decided to just pursue artistry full-time from that moment on.”
Despite the challenges she has faced since then, the singer never turned her back on her dreams, no matter how temptingly easy it seemed. “It’s been a difficult yet beautiful journey to get to where I am now, but I am forever grateful I took that leap.” Even when some people take that leap, they aren’t prepared for the difficulties that shape the industry. It may take hundreds of ‘No’s before receiving a ‘Yes’, a daunting mindset to have to live with.
“I think rejection is a big part of life and it’s so important to just let it inspire you to keep growing and moving forward,” Nadia says. “I find the best ways I deal with this is to let myself be bummed and cycle through whatever feels come through, and then I try to place those feels into something creative.”
This way of coping did not come overnight to the singer. Reflecting on her musical journey thus far, she says that she wishes she knew the impact that pursuing one’s passion could have on their mental health. “When your work is something you literally wake up and stay up for, it can really take a toll if not kept in check.” She jokes afterward, “As I type this at 5am… Poll: Did I just wake up or am I going to bed after this?” (As creatives ourselves at TEENPLICITY, it’s hard to say which it could be…)
Throughout all that her career has tossed at her, and most especially 2020, Nadia’s passion for her music is still alive, well, and very clearly thriving. “My first EP ‘cut to the chase’ drops October 6th and the single from it, ‘Anxiety’, will make its way to your ears a little sooner on September 9th,” she reveals. “I also have some new holiday music in the oven as well. Hope you’re hungry!” Nadia teases as well.
To her fans who eagerly await her music, the time of which is quickly approaching, Nadia admits with a laugh, “It’s time for bed!” (There’s the answer for the poll!) Addressing them directly, she continues, “Also, thank you for taking the time to read this interview and to check out my music. Your support seriously means the world and I hope my music helps you through anything you might be going through or have gone through in the past. I love you so much!”