LOCAL INTERVIEW: Nadine Shah | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Nadine Shah might be one of the regions’ foremost home-grown talents, but she’s been living in London for the last 12 years. “No one seems to accept that,” she tells me. Her origins trace back to Whitburn – a small seaside village on the North East coast with not much on offer to a young, music hungry teenager. It’s a place that influenced her early songwriting, spawning tracks like the self-explanatory Dreary Town. Now, she is very much a national artist, who has gained widespread attention but the North East is still a place with which she holds close family ties. “I don’t miss it because I’m there too often, I go home nearly every month. I’m there all the bloody time!”

Shah’s debut album Love Your Dum And Mad hit the right notes for lovers of dark, gothic chamber pop and earned a fair share of critical acclaim for its brooding atmospheres, spearheaded by Shah’s strong yet melancholy vocal, with its distinctive Northern lilt.

On her follow up, Fast Food, she is again working alongside producer Ben Hillier – someone who has become an important part of her musical entourage. “We also collaborate on the work and we’re so comfortable with eachother now that we’re a lot less precious with our ideas.” The writing and recording process is somewhat different to her first effort though. “We didn’t have a record label when I made my first album so we were stealing time wherever we could because we had no finance to make the record. I never really had the experience of going into the studio for an intense amount of time. It was like that this time though, like a month of writing and a month of recording.”

“I wanted to have my face on the artwork because this album and this collection of songs are all about my experience. I feel like a more confident musician and I wanted to put my face to my work”

The result is something a lot more rounded than LYMAD – from the more commercial title to the album artwork, which includes an image of Shah’s head against a vivid green backdrop. “I wanted it to look like those Italian horror films from the 70s. I wanted to have my face on the artwork because this album and this collection of songs are all about my experience. I feel like a more confident musician and I wanted to put my face to my work.”

Where her previous record dealt with the loss of close friends to suicide and its depressive impacts on the everyday, Fast Food seems to have a more optimistic outlook. There’s a brighter sound to the music as a whole and Shah’s words seem to be more playful than quietly reflective. “The lyrical themes this time, fortunately, aren’t so morbid. I think the first album was quite a political album, because it was about mental health but there are no songs about dead people on this album, it’s great!”

One of those songs is Fool, the second single from the album which sees Shah referencing Nick Cave – one of the many artists that she has been associated with due to her detailed narrative song structures and gloomy sound. “He’s one of my favourite artists, I love him. I referenced him in it because I’m pointing out…you have to bear in mind…I lived in East London for a long time, where it’s like super trendy, everyone kind of looks the same and I was kind of poking fun at this person saying ‘you like Nick Cave, you read Kerouac, you’ve got tattoos’, but they’re also artists that I love. So although I’m poking fun at someone about their predictable nature, I’m also a big fan of those people.”

Nadine Shah plays Gateshead Old Town Hall on Saturday 11th April. Fast Food is released on 6th April.

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