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INTERVIEW: Nina Lee

Pic by Zev Starr-Tambor

1. Hi Nina, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’ve been really good. Thanks for having me! I’m super excited to get my songs into the world and see what happens. I am ready to embrace change and go with whatever is thrown at me. I am dedicated to this craft and I truly believe that writing songs, and performing is what I was made to do.

2.  Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Airborne”?

“Airborne” is really special to me because it stems from my family. For me family is the root of everything and the strongest bond you will ever have. I have been very fortunate to grow up with such a loving and accepting family that has only wanted me to be the best I can be. My great grandfather was a paratrooper in WWII in the 101st airborne, and when he died a few years ago I was unsure of how I could make my great grandmother understand what I was feeling. I had the idea of airborne and then things just started to pour out of me. I am really excited to have this as my single because I feel like it is a very strong and accurate depiction of how war can affect all families. This is just a purely uncensored and raw depiction of me, and the type of person I am and I want to share that.

3. Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

I had always been very interested in my family heritage and learning stories about the past, but when my great grandfather died an interest sparked in me to find out more about his life. I was with my grandmother and we found 70 year old love letters he had written her that she kept from the war. I realized that no relationship is perfect, but they really despite everything, loved each other. I wanted that to live on. I was actually talking to my great grandmother the other day and she told me she wanted to thank me for “keeping him alive” through my music. That really resonated with me because I felt like it was all worth it. Just to see her smile, and hear her joy made me happy. I tried to turn the pain that she was feeling when she thought about missing him turn into happiness about how much time she had with him, and the fact that he is still with her.

4. Any plans to release a video for the single?

Yes, I have a lyric video that is to be released soon, and I would love to make a music video to follow. I think that the lyric video enhances the song and will bring the story full circle. I’m really excited about the magic to come with the music video, and hopefully being able to capture it in the perfect way.

5. The single comes off your new EP Snapshots – what’s the story behind the title?

I was thinking about what to name the EP, and they all were little slivers or glimpses of a storybook. They were like “snapshots” in time that eventually lead to where I am today. They are stories have shaped me and my family. I think Snapshots fits perfectly because for the duration of the song, it’s like you are back in the time and living in the story, but that glimpse only lasts a second. That’s why the seconds are so important, and you don’t want to miss out on enjoying the little snaps in time, because they only happen once in a lifetime. I want to be present in the moments and not let the snapshots disappear.

6. How was the recording and writing process?

I loved recording at Threshold Studios and at The Cutting Room, both in New York City, with the incredible Steve Greenwell producing. And I got to work with such talented and accomplished musicians on the record, like Aaron Comess (drums), Richard Hammond (bass), and Nadia DiGiallonardo (keys), not to mention my dad on guitar. Whenever I am in the studio performing I am in this state of euphoria. I forget about my concerns, and let go of the anxiety. And then I just sing. It is the only time in my life where I feel completely calm and worry free. That’s why I try to replicate it as much as possible. When I write something that makes me physically feel something that is when I know it’s good. When I play a rough version of it to someone and I see their reaction is the same as mine, I know it is right. It’s something I have never and will never get tired of doing.

7. What role does NYC play in your writing?

I think that being in such a vibrant and creative city helps me find inspiration every day. It is a part of me; it’s where I was raised. When I left for a time to go to Connecticut I didn’t feel like I was content. But, even though it was hard, it gave me a heck of a lot of good writing materials. When I got back to New York I was able to use that time of pain in Connecticut to become an even better songwriter. The thing I love most about the city is that I can just walk down the street and belt out any song and nobody thinks that is weird. I think that although New York is a part of me and is very important, no matter where I am I can find inspiration. The only thing is that I have my family, and then it’s ok.

8. What aspect of inner strength and family did you get to explore on this record?

I think that I realized that no family is perfect, but they are the only family you get. I can’t change anyone but myself and how I receive information and how I react. I think as a person I have grown, and I have become more aware of myself.  Now I understand that you can always better yourself and keep learning. I’m enjoying the process and can’t wait to see where I go the more experienced I get. Experience and life prepares you and is always teaching you. I already knew how important family was, but I think while writing and producing this EP it was illuminated and fortified even more.

9. Any plans to hit the road?

I would love to. I literally dream of performing, it’s so exciting to me. Performing for other people is everything to me. Being on stage and singing gives me a rush that I have never felt in anything else in my life. I want to travel the world and experience different cultures and sing wherever and whenever I can. Music is a universal language, for example when I was in Italy I came across a musician outside of the Duomo, and even thought we didn’t speak the same language, we both understood what the music meant and enjoyed performing together. Hopefully I will come to a point where being on the road will happen, but until then, I am happy singing anywhere I can.

10. What else is happening next in Nina Lee’s world?

I wish I knew. If I could predict the future it would alleviate a lot of stress and uncertainty. But since I can’t, I can only hope that I will do what I love for the rest of my life and touch other people through it. I am excited for people to continue to hear “Airborne”, and listen to Snapshots while I continue to write and sing and do everything I can to get myself out into this world. I want to show someone that nobody is perfect and that life is not all gold and shiny but everyone deals with struggles, and hopefully I can be a relatable person to others.

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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