Photos courtesy Aztec Records
Opening for a beloved musical act with a long-established fan base runs its share of risk. In the case of NINA, who opened seven dates for Erasure during their 2014 U.S. The Violet Flame Tour, there was absolutely nothing to fret about. Audiences agreed with pioneering duo Andy Bell and Vince Clarke that NINA was a damn good fit.
The last two years have been big ones for the German born synth-pop singer-songwriter, stemming from her 2013 hit “We Are The Wild Ones” and follow-up single “My Mistake.” Music critics seeking to introduce her to a global audience have described her sound as “Lana del Rey meets Robyn,” and indeed her sound evokes the lonelier side of emotions, driven by a propulsive electronica beat. “My music is synth-driven, retro and dreamy and the lyrics are usually dark and melancholic. I tend to co-write a lot too. I absolutely love the eighties, so you can hear some of that in there too. It reminds me of my childhood and I feel very close to it,” says NINA, whose live band includes backup drummer and label manager Laura Fares, who has had a long career as a session drummer.
Fans can expect new music soon, too. Back in her homebase of London after touring, NINA was eager to return to this phase of her bright career. “I’ll be finishing some new songs and the album will hopefully come out later this year, with another single release beforehand,” she notes, adding that she hopes to find more time to lend her talents to HIV/AIDS advocacy events.
NINA took a break to talk to A&U about her upbringing, her musical DNA, past and present, and adding her voice to AIDS awareness.
Sean Black: So, what was it like opening for Erasure?
NINA: It’s an honor opening for such a legendary band. I couldn’t believe it when I found out. It still feels like a dream. I used to play their records over and over again when I was younger. Beautiful memories spring to my mind when I listen to their hits.
Your sound is a perfect fit for Erasure fans, new and old; do you agree?
Yes, it seems that way. The audience has been such a wide mixture of people each night. I wasn’t sure how Erasure’s fans would react to my
show, but they’ve been incredibly supportive so I guess it was a good fit.
Any other dream bands that you’d like to open for?
How did music influence your childhood?
I grew up in Berlin and I have wonderful memories of my childhood. Music was always a big part of it, as my parents listened to a lot of disco and New Wave in the eighties. My dad had a shop where he would sell the newest cameras and TVs, so my mum used his cameras to record herself singing and I guess I picked up on that. They took me on long car journeys around Europe, that’s why I knew very early on that I needed to see the world and experience other cultures and expand my musical knowledge, too.
Who did you listen to growing up?
Depeche Mode, Queen, Duran Duran, Michael Jackson, and Erasure, of course! Also, earlier stuff like The Doors and Jimi Hendrix.
What is your reaction to the words “HIV/AIDS”?
I have a couple of friends who are HIV-positive and they live normal lives. I guess HIV/AIDS doesn’t sound as scary as it used to sound when I was growing up. Medicine has advanced enormously since then, but it’s still crucial to talk about it and create awareness.
Do you get tested for HIV?
How is your generation dealing with HIV? Do you find yourselves discussing it openly?
Yes, I don’t think it’s as taboo anymore. Most people are conscious about getting checked regularly and about different ways of prevention. Luckily in this day and age, we can openly talk about it. I have done so with my partners, as it’s also a matter of trust.
Sean Black is a Senior Editor of A&U.