One to watch; Nadia Sheikh talks to scotts

Music / May 24, 2019
by Johanna Roelich

We stumbled into Jimmy’s one Saturday night after hearing a sound from the street that we really wanted to get involved in. That sound turned out to be the incredibly talented Nadia Sheikh completely take over the stage with her three bandmates, surrounded by a sea of fans. After getting lost in their chilled indie/rock/pop style, we knew we had to get to know these guys a little better.

Nadia combines indie, rock and pop with folky and jazzy vocals, creating a characteristic and unique sound that she showcases in her original songs. Quirky melodies and catchy choruses with incredibly insightful lyrics. Don’t let her delicate voice fool you, Nadia Sheikh has a rock n roll style too. She’s definitely one to watch.

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about how the band got together.

My name is Nadia Sheikh, I’m a half British, half Spanish, an Indie/pop/ rock artist based in London.

I started playing solo acoustic gigs in Spain around when I was 13 and I continued doing so after moving to London to attend uni. During this time, a friend who I met in the acoustic scene, was releasing an EP and he invited me to open for him on the night of the release show. I accepted and then realised he might have meant it was a full band gig. I asked him and he said ‘yeah, bring your band’. I didn’t have one at the time, so I asked a few friends from uni if they’d play the show with me. I got together a set list with some of my original songs and we played the gig.

From that one, I was invited to play another show. And that gig turned into another and another… They were sporadic at first, I was still playing mostly acoustically, but eventually it turned into something a bit more serious. I always wanted to make music with a full electric sound, specially taking after my influences (Oasis, The Beatles, Stereophonics, Arctic Monkeys etc), but I never got round to starting a band.

George (drummer) joined shortly after we started playing together and in June it will be two years since Lorenzo (guitar) joined us, so it’s been about two years that we’ve been playing together. Rowan (bass) is the only one that’s been there since the first show! I still play solo acoustic shows every now and then, but the main thing is the full electric show!

How would you describe your style to someone who hadn’t heard you before?

Indie rock with a pop nature. I like to say I write pop songs that we then arrange in a pop rock style. Some are louder/grittier and some are softer, but all very melodic and with a pop sensibility.

Do you remember the very first moment you realised you wanted to get into music?

When I was about 7 years old I wanted to play guitar because my uncle Hernan is a musician and I’d see him play guitar and I thought he was super cool. I just loved music. But it was when I was 12 or so that my parents took me to see Avril Lavigne live in Manchester that it kind of hit me. I saw her on stage and thought, ‘I want to do that’.

Who were you biggest influencers growing up?

When I was a kid, I used to listen a lot to The Beatles, I adored them. My parents used to play their music in the house and also Queen, The Eagles and ABBA. I also remember listening to UB40 a lot!

When I was 10 or 11 I got into American pop punk and I used to listen to Avril Lavigne and Green Day, but it was when I was in my early teens that I discovered Oasis and Britpop and I used to listen to them all the time. I remember the day my dad showed me a video of of Oasis playing “Don’t Look Back In Anger” live in Argentina. It really inspired me, the songs and seeing all those people singing them back to the band, it stuck with me. Also bands such as Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys and Stereophonics were and still are massive for me.

I used to listen to all the pop as well haha, stuff like Natalie Imbruglia and The Corrs, surprisingly. Things that were on the radio. My first vocal teacher in Spain is a jazz singer, and through her I discovered a bit of this genre too. I managed to get a few gigs singing standards and I also got a scholarship to do a jazz Summer course at Stanford in San Francisco.

I know the support of your family is very important to you, would you say it has made an impact on your music?

Definitely! I honestly wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for them. They gave me the opportunity of having a guitar the first time, so they facilitated the start!

They are my biggest supporters, as well as my best and worst critics. If they like something they tell me but if they think something isn’t as good, they tell me too.

They’ve never questioned why I do what I do or told me to do otherwise or choose a career path that will bring me money and security. They’ve always encouraged me to follow my dreams and my passion and they taught me that if I work really, really hard for what I want I will achieve it.

As well as that, they’ve always fed me great music and I found out about certain bands and artists through them first.

Do you remember the song that first inspired you to learn an instrument or sing?

I can’t remember a specific song that made me want to play or sing, it was probably one by The Beatles or Avril Lavigne. I just remember the thought of playing an instrument really attracted me.

What’s your favourite part of being part of a band?

Getting to share the stage and the ride with the boys. It’s so much more fun when you play with other people and you can share the energy and the music. It’s also just great to get into a room and play music with other people. You might be having the worst day ever, you’re exhausted and feel terrible, but you go into the rehearsal room and all that just evaporates and it turns into good vibes and fun.

You’ve just done an interview for Fred Perry Subculture, congratulations! Is Subculture something you’ve wanted to be a part for a while? How did the opportunity come about?

Yeah, thank you! Yes, I love what Fred Perry Subculture do and I’ve read many of the interviews, features and reviews they’ve done before with other artists and it’s great that they feature big artists and also emerging talent, so it was a pleasure to be asked to do one!

I was on an article they did last year for This Feeling’s ‘Big in 2018’, so when ‘Toxic’ came out I shared it with them and the next minute I had an email asking if I’d like to do the interview and playlist.

Which Subcultures have influenced you?

I was brought up in Spain and to me the subcultures that were coming from the UK and US were really fascinating. Britpop was a big influence for me and so were punk and grunge. I loved the way fashion, culture and music intertwined. It seemed a bit alien and magical coming from a small Spanish town.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds at Razzmatazz in Barcelona. I was about 15 and went with my whole family. I had a massive sign that read ‘Name Nadia, dream to sing ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ with you’. I was just on the first line, he saw it and he dedicated the song to me. I was mind blown!

If you could perform with anyone in the world (dead or alive) who would it be?

If you mean perform alongside them I’d say Paul McCartney. I grew up listening to him and his songs so it would be a dream. If you mean share the lineup I’d say Oasis or Janis Joplin. Oasis were a huge influence for me and Janis was so powerful, it would incredible to share the bull with them!

What advice would you give to someone looking to break into the music industry?

I haven’t broken it myself! hahaha I guess I’d say if you really want it, go for it. It’s not an easy ride and most of the its really hard work and graft, but go 200% in. The only way is forward. Also be nice, truthful and respectful, it goes a long way.

Tell us something people may not know about you

I am native in English, Spanish and Valenciano (similar to Catalan)

We massively suggest to go see these guys play, you won’t regret it.

Kit out your gig wardrobe first though!

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