NAHLI, a British newcomer with an already exciting discography, recently published her latest piece ‘Catch 22’ alongside rapper and television personality Big Narstie. To talk about the song and current events, NAHLI joined us for an interview.
Firstly, how are you, and how have you been coping with the current COVID-19 crisis?
I’m actually ok, thank you. I’m happy, I’m settled, I’m doing ok despite everything. I can get a little agoraphobic so staying home is really easy for me actually!! I like being at home. I started painting at home when I felt like my mental health was slipping a bit during the first lockdown and it’s kept me really occupied since. Plus, my girlfriend is a really positive person to be around at all times so she really helps me get out of any difficult head spaces. I just really miss my family.
You recently released your song ‘Catch 22’ with the Big Narstie, how did the collaboration come about and how did the idea for the song evolve?
Big Narstie’s lyrics on this one really made me laugh. I love them. CATCH came from a diary entry I wrote about a guy I was dating for 9 months. (I write in a diary every day and I bring it to studio). I say dating, we just hooked up constantly. He’s a UK rapper and the first time I’ve dated within the music industry. Turns out it was a lot harder than I expected for so many reasons. ‘Catch 22’ was written about all those insecure moments you feel when you’re really unsure about whether the person you’re sleeping with is also sleeping with other people or dating other people…There’s no real way to know. And them telling you they love you all the time is great, but it’s the only security you have. Anyone can say ‘I love you’, but when they can’t actually prove it or commit to you, it’s just a waste of time. The whole relationship was kept under the radar and after a while I just had to walk away from it because I realised that he must have thought I was naive, but I saw through all his bullshit. If I ever called him out on everything, he’d just block my number until he thought of a good enough excuse! Haha!! It’s funny to look back on these situations once you’re settled. That’s the last time I fuck with a Pisces let me tell you.
Narstie was introduced to me by my record label, Rebel Records. Ripps knew Narstie and once I’d finished the tune with DaVinChe, he played it to Narstie and he loved it! So, jumped on the track. I was so excited when I got that call.
You’re hoping to release an EP featuring ‘Catch 22’ in 2021 – do you have any hints on any other tracks that will feature on it?
Yeah! Therapy [Side B]. I’m really excited for it, it’s my best work yet. It’s really cool to watch myself evolve from Side A to Side B. Musically, emotionally. I was really cut up about someone whilst I was writing the last one. Some really emotional studio sessions were had to create that, and those songs are really meaningful to me. Now, I’m stronger, I’m sassier I feel like there’s some advice given in these songs that I’ve taken from past experiences and they’ve been really really fun to write. Lots of laughs this time. Lots of bringing up old situations and just laughing at them instead. Laughing at my previous lyric choices about ‘rather have your dad instead’ from the first EP. I’m just having so much fun with it. You’re going to love it.
In terms of new favourites, have there been any contemporary artists you discovered during 2020?
I love Princess Nokia, DUCKWRTH, Lucky Daye. Ady Suleiman. Tom Misch. There are so many great artists I’ve come to love this year. But honestly, I spend a huge amount of my time listening to old music. I love Led Zepplin, I love KISS and Motown. I love jazz music, I love Elvis Presley, DARE I SAY IT I LOVE ABBA. I love Radiohead, Muse, Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding. I could go on and on and on. 60’s music is usually blasting through my house while I’m painting.
If you could give any advice to a young kid who wants to become a musician, what would it be?
Just to stop looking at what everyone else is achieving. I had to force myself to stop doing this. I used to think “well how did this person do this and why aren’t I doing this” or “what do they have that I don’t” or “why is this taking so long”. Genuinely I’d get so sad and depressed and low about it until I truly had to step back and learn that…Counting your blessings is a much greater way of achieving personal successes than to grieve over what you don’t have. That’s a negative energy you’re giving out and blessings are more difficult to come to you in abundance while you’re in that headspace. Trust me. Just remind yourself of every milestone, every day you’ve put work in, every single thing you’ve achieved…and keep pushing. A little more every day. It’s taken me what feels like forever to get here, but I’m here. And I’m grateful. And there is nothing missing from my life, because that’s the notion I’m putting forth.
Make sure your circle is strong. That you can trust every single person in your circle with anything. Trust is absolutely everything in this industry. And please, don’t ever ever give up on yourself. This pressure about age that we have, ignore it. It doesn’t mean anything. Keep pushing.
With 2021 looking uncertain, do you have any hopes for a tour in 2021?
I don’t know if 2021 necessarily looks uncertain. That really depends on the way you look at it! 2021 will still continue regardless of what is going on in the world and the way we deal with that is entirely up to us as individuals. We can choose whether the year already looks uncertain which already makes us decide it might all go to shit, which it might…But in that case what can we do to change our year for ourselves. Do more things with our hands. Write a book and become a published author for all we know. Do you know what I mean? Lockdown just gives us an excuse and an opportunity to throw our normal lives to the wind for a moment in time and focus elsewhere on all the things we never had time for before. It’s not ideal, but it’s happening so we may as well embrace it. We have the time to use. I’m always hopeful. I try and believe that everything is going to get better. Touring in 2021 would be a dream, ideal. It would make me so happy, but if it doesn’t happen. That’s ok too.
Finally, do you have words of positive words for other creatives, during these challenging times?
Just keep going. Keep going. Keep going. Every time you wake up with that cloud of doubt over your head when you’re feeling like nothing is going right or your life is on the wrong path or you’re not where you want to be. Just stop for a moment, breathe through those thoughts…they’re just thoughts. Take a walk, recalibrate. Take a moment off your phone and flood your mind with alternative things.
It will get better. It always does. Remember those days when you got your heart broken and you thought the world was falling onto your head and you couldn’t stop it? It stopped after a while didn’t it? That nagging pain in your chest and stomach that comes with grief. It goes away one day. Just like everything. We will all get through this weird time and we’ll see our friends and family again. And we’ll have fun again. But right now, just use this time to work on your core self and your future self will be so ecstatic and proud that you did. And if you ARE struggling. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to people and talk. You can reach out to me too. I really enjoy talking about these things and giving any help I possibly can so please do reach out.