NADIA NAIR

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story + photos / Koko Ntuen

When I leave Nadia Nair, it’s a glamorous goodbye. We are on the streets of Stockholm, singing her song “Beautiful Poetry” together — a capella karaoke-style — into an iPhone camera, buzzed off wine and whiskey on a pre-Spring Swedish night. It’s a perfect full circle moment for me as I’ve been listening over and over to her debut album, Beautiful Poetry. For weeks the album has been on repeat in my headphones, me singing softly while I sat in coffee shops, trying to perfect all the melodies on every track. I had been moved to the core by the soothing, tropical riffs, her voice moving over and in-between them like an instrument, as gorgeous and important as the chords and lyrics themselves. Speaking to me like a choir, from the time it landed in my inbox to the second we met in the INGRID offices in Södermalm, it had been a magical sonic experience.
Being such a quick progression from the time I discovered, became obsessed with, and met Nair in real life, our introduction was as awkward and fulfilling as I could image. “Hi, I’ve been listening to your for days, you’re amazing, you’re music is amazing, it means so much to me, you are so beautiful!” I gushed in one breath. She was nice, overwhelmed, and gracious about my introductory ramble, and we continued to bond chat about clothes, train rides, and all the normal stuff girls become friends over.
Romance and music brought the artist and her full crown of goddess-like curls to Stockholm. “This is where I fell in love and where I felt like I wanted to evolve musically,” she says blushing, briefly mentioning a coveted Swedish producer who shall remain nameless for mystery purposes.  Gothenburg is where she was born and raised, in a green countryside surrounded by love, family, and a desire to create. She started making music very young: “I’ve always been a performer of some sort… It started on planes, flying to Malaysia every summer. I’d stand on my seat when people were trying to sleep and sing Goofy’s “High, high, up in the sky,” arms stretched out. And then when we arrived I’d sing for my relatives and have shows for my family. My parents always were very encouraging to let me embrace that side of me more. Writing music came when I realized I had written so much poetry and sung so much that I could put it together… I was around 8 when I wrote my very first song.”

For the last two years Nair put everything she had into Beautiful Poetry — living, breathing, and basically letting the album devour her. You can hear this in all-baring lyrics, the phonetics reverberating in your bones; it encompasses every performance and nuance, telling a life story over instrumentals that leave you with chills. It reads like the diary of a girl with immense range and complexities.
“I rarely censor myself,” the artist reveals. “I just write about everything so, for me, I really poured myself — every core of me — into every note, every word… Emotionally, painstakingly, stubbornly into every aspect of the album. Freedom is something I strive for. It’s the most important thing to me.”
It’s no argument that her star trajectory will surely surpass her expectations, and with the world’s high demand for the next beautiful Swedish pop star, she will undoubtedly become the sort of artist delightfully consumed by listeners everywhere. However, she doesn’t plan on letting all the bells and whistles get to her head anytime soon.
“I’m a naturally grounded person,” Nair admits. “The fame used to be alluring, but when I let that go, I reach every core inside me and I just flow better musically and artistically. I don’t see it as fame — I see it as my art and if people feel something from it and if I can live from art, then I am extremely and humbly grateful. But I do believe in myself.”


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