We had the chance to interview NYC-based singer-songwriter Nazanin who will be releasing her new single, “Red Light,” a pop/contemporary r&b single on the 5th of February. She released her official debut single and music video titled “Infatuation,” in 2020. Inspired by artists including Selena Quintanilla, Dua Lipa, Sabrina Claudio, Snoh Aalegra, Beyonce,and Rihanna, Nazanin’s music is certainly in a category of its own. Her multicultural background as well as her determination to empower women give her a distinctive voice in music.
Hello Nazanin, welcome to Vents Magazine. How are you? How have you been handling the past year during the pandemic?
What genre and subgenre best describe your music?
I’ve been happy, healthy, and great thankfully. Trying to make the most of this pandemic by churning the negativity of this time into something positive. I’ve been spending time with my family, loved ones, close friends, and going full force on working on my craft as well as launching my career.
What is the story behind your latest release, “Infatuation”? What inspired you to write this song?
My genre is pop but pending on the song there are elements of dance, contemporary r&b, and/or soul. I’m very strong on melody and most of my tracks are in the minor key (even if they are a fun upbeat pop/dance track with a cool rhythm). There’s also a certain darkness to some to my songs as well. I was never into making bubble gum pop.
After I broke up with my ex, I dated guys here and there but for the most part I wanted to focus on myself and have fun living in NYC. When I decided to slowly get back into the game, I met this guy I was very attracted to. The attraction was mutual and strong. It was this raw magnetism I don’t come across often and he weirdly made me nervous like a schoolgirl – I was infatuated, to say the least. While I am not the type of girl to chase or pursue a man, when it comes to life in general I am a go-getter and not scared to go after what I want. I always go confidently in the direction of my desires. So, I wanted to spin that feeling of being infatuated with someone alongside the notion of empowerment to create a song about fearlessly pursuing whatever sets your soul on fire. It’s definitely an empowering track that encapsulates the feeling of desire for someone unique or special.
Did your multi-cultural background help you shape your music and style?
I’m Persian Jewish – my parents are Iranian immigrants and I grew up in a small community of Iranian Jews on the North Shore of Long Island. I grew up listening to a lot of Persian music my dad would play around the house. A lot of Iranian music which would be played at all the Bat/Bar Mitzvahs, Bridal Showers, and Weddings I would attend growing up in Great Neck as well. Persian music ranges from poetic, deep, emotional, and romantic to lively rhythmic and fun – all moods which have definitely affected my artistry (even though I don’t incorporate middle eastern elements into my music). But most importantly, given my background, a lot of my songs deal with notions of empowerment – especially female empowerment. While I absolutely love my community, background, and am proud of my heritage, I grew up in a very conservative environment. While my dad always raised me to be a strong and ambitious girl, I always felt like my dreams for pursuing music were never accepted as it’s not an industry anyone from my multicultural background pursues; it’s definitely out of the box in regards to my culture. This feeling has definitely led to a sense of rebellion and desire to break free which can be heard within the themes of female empowerment in a lot of my tracks. Additionally, being Jewish, what I love most about my faith is that it’s all about the present moment and living a great life now because it’s all we have. Judaism is also all about celebration, family, love, morals etc. I like to bring that “live and let live” mentality to my songs which have also been influenced by growing up and visiting my family in Israel (their mentality is different than ours given the circumstances they live in).
Do you have anyone that you consider your mentor? What’s the best advice that was given to you as an artist?
I have two main people I consider mentors. One is Jordan March – he was the sales director of my old corporate job and he used to work at Universal Music Group before switching over to Real Estate. Before him I always had this dream of pursuing pop music but had no idea what to do and always felt like it was an impossible feat to reach which made me depressed. I felt like my talents and passion were going to go to waste. He really believed in me and my potential and we hit it off due to our shared love for music. Besides being a great friend, he has taught me a lot of what I know about the business, introduced me to key people a part of my team, and has selflessly guided me in the right direction. My other mentor is Samiyyah Dixon. She has been in the industry for 21 years and counting – Sammiyyah has worked with some of the greatest musicians including Usher, Trey Songz, Brandy, Missy Elliott, Nikki Minaj etc. She has helped develop me as an artist and has taught me a lot about the industry. The best advice that has consequently been given to me is that success in this business is 90% knowledge and 10% talent. Meaning, you can be the most talented person but if you don’t know how the business operates, what to do to achieve your goals, who to work with, and what strategy to execute, you unfortunately won’t get anywhere because there is really no such thing as being “found” anymore like in the 80s. Knowledge is power. You have to also be hardworking and consistent.
How has your creative process evolved since you’ve started making music?
I used to get a lot of melodies in my head and record them in my voice notes and start writing a song off a melody I created. I used to get the production created in the end. I work differently now – I first start off with keeping a diary. I find a concept I want to expand upon and start writing freestyle to get all my thoughts and feelings out. Once I have an idea of what I want the production to sound like, I get the instrumentals created by a producer or I license the beat online (and I’m always saving ideas and inspirations whenever I come across them). I then write my lyrics and melody to the instrumentals created – followed by harmonies, vocal stacks, and ad libs. When it comes to writing lyrics, I sift through my free form and pick out words and phrases I like most. I try to spin the concept of the song in a way that sits true to me yet is universal and applicable to everyone. There’s then things to keep in mind such as rhyming, proper pop form etc. I also have people close to me whom I trust for feedback and advice. I then record the song on GarageBand with my mic setup + laptop and send it to my mixing engineer to finalize with my notes, vision and direction. Otherwise aside from the pandemic, I would record in a professional studio.
What are you currently working on, any new projects you would like to share with the fans?
I currently have a new song coming out this February 5th called “Red Light.” It’s a sensual and vulnerable pop/contemporary r&b song about having to end things with someone you know is not good for you. After “Red Light” I will be releasing a lot of pop/dance tracks. Concepts range from right love wrong time, living it up, being made to love, empowerment, not ready to be tied down yet (a sexy track for a female to be singing), my drive, bullying and resilience etc. It’s important for all my songs whether slow or fast to have substantial meaning behind them. Moreover, I’m constantly writing music and I don’t stop.