Rotterdam-based singer-songwriter Nana M. Rose writes beautiful, intimate piano ballads, carried by her incredible, larger-than-life voice, described by Fortitude Magazine as “powerful, moving and unforgettable”. Her songs are reminiscent of Adele’s stirring style and have a dreamy, cinematic flair evocative of Lana del Rey. In 2019 and 2020, Nana toured the UK, New York and The Netherlands. Nana’s first single ‘Love Me Like I Love You’, a co-write with producer Louis Souyave (‘Be A Lady’, Salt Ashes, St. Blue), was released in early October 2020. Her follow-up ‘November’ was released on November 27th.
What inspired you to begin a career in music?
I think a lot of events and people inspired me to begin a career in music. I have always been in love with big voices, like Adele, Matt Corby and Lianne la Havas and have always used singing as a way to express myself, even though it was mostly just me in my room until I was 15 years old. Then when I was 15, my father gifted me some singing lessons to give me more confidence in that, which totally did the job! From there on I just got more and more involved with people in music, who all really inspired me. I still found it very scary to actually go for it though, since there are a lot of insecurities when it comes to a career in music, but my parents were so supportive and really convinced me I could do it. Then when I first went to music festivals around 16, I was totally blown away by the effect music has on people, and I think that was when it really hit me how powerful music is and how much I wanted to be involved with it.
What differs you and your sound from other upcoming artists in the music industry?
I think my voice is the instrument that brings all of my music together, instead of being tied down to a specific genre or style. I like to use my voice to tell the story, and use all different aspects of my voice to get across my emotions. Not only because of this I think my music doesn’t fit into one box, but also because artistically I like to explore all my influences – from pop, indie folk to indie, soul and electronica. I love all of these genres and I think it’s really interesting to see how I can incorporate the things I love so much about them into my own music.
I feel like I’m not really following music trends. I really make what evolves from my emotions, from my story. Of course there are a lot of influences, also from popular artists, but this is something that happens on a subconscious level. That’s why I think that my music is able to breathe its own air, and it’s able to be what it needs to be.
Finally, I love to connect with the audience during a live show and try to do this in a way that everybody feels safe and comfortable to feel their emotions. I love creating a space where people can connect and we can all be human together.
Your latest release ‘November’ is out now. Please describe the creative process and inspiration behind the single?
I think there’s always loads of influences on a subconscious level. The way I use my voice comes, I think, from people like Matt Corby or Lianne la Havas: using my head and chest voice in all its contrasts. This is something that I really used in this song.
But on a conscious level, I remember that I just heard the acoustic version of Darkest Hour by Charlotte OC (her Sofar Sounds session), and I was blown away by her power, and how much she dared to lay out her darkest of feelings. I have always loved these kinds of songs, but at that moment in my life I felt like nobody else did, because I always got the feedback at my music school (conservatory) to ‘write more happy songs’ (which is very empty feedback, I see now, haha). Hearing Charlotte sing her chest out at that Sofar session really inspired me to open my gate of feelings and write this song.
Everyone experiences good days and bad days, as a musician, when you have a bad day, what motivates you to keep moving and look ahead to the future?
So true! When I have a bad day I just really try to put things into perspective: I think of all the things that are going on at the moment (not just that day), and remember myself of how different things are now compared to just a year ago, to remind myself of how much my career has grown. It’s really easy to feel like things are not moving fast enough, when actually, when you give yourself the time to look back on it, you can see how rapidly everything changes and progresses. I really try to remind myself of that.
In your own opinion, what is the most meaningful song you wrote? What makes you say that one?
I really think it is November. It is one of the most personal songs I’ve ever written. I wrote November after someone very close to me was dealing with a big loss in his life. When someone this close loses someone so dear, it is really hard to watch the pain and struggle of that person without having any power to hand a solution. There is no solution. It just sucks not being able to take the pain away. Not being able to get revenge for them because there’s no one to blame. Not being able to tell someone it’s gonna be alright. That feeling of despair is what November is about.
November is one of the songs I love to play live the most. I think this is because the feeling always hits me. I feel this song so deeply. I always play this song last in my set because after I played this I feel like I gave my all and I’m just emotionally tired. I wrote it two years ago, but it’s still very emotional for me. I think it is because it is such a universal feeling. It is not like it’s about heartbreak, and then when you don’t experience heartbreak the feeling gets weaker. No, it is about something that everybody will have to deal with in life, and that once you’ve experienced it, it’s somewhere deep within you. It’s big.
Throughout your musical career, have you experienced any ‘wow’ moments? Those moments that you stop to reflect and can’t believe you are where you are?
I definitely have! In 2019 and early 2020 I did a couple tours in the UK and New York. I was just travelling, seeing the world, while doing what I love most: making music and meeting people who are involved with music. During this tour I could be really struck by certain moments, like just playing a show, meeting interesting people and having drinks afterwards together, discussing music, and think: wow, it is so cool that I’m able to do this.
What personal advice would you give to someone wanting to pursue this career?
I think that if you want to pursue a career in music, it is really important to remind yourself that wanting a career in music is a long, long road you’re taking. It’s a super fun road, but don’t let the fact that this path takes time get you down. When things are not going the way I had hoped I just tell myself: ‘Just keep going’. Don’t overthink it – just go! I think you really need to feel that strength and confidence within yourself. And also: Enjoy that road! Super cliche, but so true. It’s amazing to be involved with music all the time – that’s something to remind yourself of, and to enjoy every second.
What does the foreseeable future hold for you as an artist?
In October I released my first single, in November my second one, and I’ll just keep releasing new singles at this pace until Spring, when my EP will be out in this world! In between, there will be lots of music videos and live sessions playing the singles. At the moment I am working hard with a band on a live show, which we can hopefully show the world in Spring too – when hopefully things are getting better in live-music-land. So, all very exciting stuff!
Did you learn any new skills during lockdown?
I did actually! Lockdown was such an inspiring time for me because I had just met my (now) manager and producer and we were in this little cocoon just creating new stuff together all the time and preparing the promotion for all of this. So basically, I was in my home studio all the time and I picked up the violin. I used to play when when I was a kid and hadn’t touched it for 10 years. When a friend of mine who plays the violin asked me to teach him how to sing, He offered to give me violin lessons in return. We did a lot of lessons during that time over Zoom, which was so much fun and gave me an extra instrument to use in the studio. For a lot of my singles I did some string recordings myself actually, which was so much fun.
Anything else you would like to add?
Yes! Today (11th December) I released a live performance video of my latest single ‘November’, so go check it out if you like my new single. I’m very happy with how it turned out, so I hope you’ll love it too!
‘November is available now via all major platforms.
Connect with Nana M. Rose
Credits: All photos by Jantina Talsma