This week I met up with neLLa at Leake Street Tunnel for a catch up and to chat about her new single ‘Waste’. What started out as a rough idea in her head about a year ago has morphed its way into a dreamy tune about breaking through anxiety to pursue your goals and dreams...
It’s so nice to finally see each other after so long! So tell us, when did you first start writing ‘Waste’?
So I started writing it in like December last year but only had a title in mind! Then I ended up with the guitar part and a line of lyrics hidden deep in my voice notes that I recorded late at night, around the end of 2017. After that I started to sit on it a little, I was quite anxious and had been directing my focus away from music to other things and people that might not have deserved it. That's something that I think the writing process of this song really taught me if I’m being honest.
Following on from that, how did you eventually end up with the lyrics? Did you have some kind of epiphany moment?
Haha, um I guess you could say that? I saw Harry Styles in the beginning of the year two times in a row and I just had so much fun, his stage presence really inspired me and made me realise that if I re-focused on my music that I could make my dreams come true. The next day I just sat down and they just, sort of, found their way to paper???
If you had the song ready so long ago what made you decide to release it across mainstream digital platforms now?
Basically in my head, I like to have a lot of deadlines and for this track the number four like really stood out for some reason? So I always knew I wanted to release it on the 4th, 14th or 24th of something, you know? Then April 14th was coming so I just thought, why not? I recorded it in the middle of the night, before releasing it right after at like 3am? I only uploaded it to Soundcloud at the time, but so many people liked it and friends had been begging me for months to actually put it up on other platforms.
I was debating for a long time whether to wait and record it somewhere that wasn't my bedroom at 3am, but so many people like it because it was a bit raw and I like it how it is too, so I just decided to take that step and do it! I think it's one of the best things I've ever done and having people tell me that they like it has helped me to realise that I can turn a period of my life that was so negative, into something so beautiful.
Now changing it up a little, if you had the chance to collab with anyone (alive or dead), who would you pick and why?
Zayn. As an artist I find it really inspiring that he took such a huge risk just to make the music he wanted to, I also think The Neighbourhood would be pretty cool too? neLLa ft. Zayn does have a nice ring to it the more I think about it! But also Miley Cyrus would be amazing! She’s been such an icon to me and ever since I was small…
Do you have any other main musical inspirations in your life?
I really admire Lil Peep for always speaking up about topics that society, in general, doesn't talk about enough - especially mental health! I use music as a therapy a lot of the time and to have a really successful artist speak up about deep topics while creating a unique sound the way he did is something that I'll never forget.
I also like to take notes from Lana Del Ray's general aesthetic and her writing, the way her lyrics flow almost like poetry is something that I enjoy working hard to master as well. Nicki Minaj is another artist that springs to mind. Her confidence, even when there may be a lot of negativity surrounding her, is a quality I want to have in music and just in life generally. So she's a huge influence on me as well!
I’ve also been such a big fan of Halsey for so long that now when I look back on meeting her on the 6th April last year, I really think that was a catalyst for motivating me to create more music.
What was that whole encounter like?
I think she first said that my hair was cool? Back then it was super curly and pink - nothing like it is now haha! But I had time to tell her that I really wanted to be an artist with the same drive that she has and she joked that I needed to write my own songs first! We hugged a lot and she was so lovely. It really was the best thing and that conversation still motivates me now!
Now that I know you recorded the song in your bedroom, what was that whole experience like?
It was so fun, even if it might have been a bit rushed! I recorded it all in a few hours, the mic was propped up on my bed really precariously and the guitar was just an unplugged acoustic. Everything about was really stripped and raw but if I had the chance I think I’d re-record the guitar again?
Have you thought about anything else you might want to do with the song in the future?
I thought about adding in some other more synth based sounds and stuff, but people’s reaction to it seemed really positive so I think that I’ll probably try not to mess with it too much? Sometimes I think a song can end up sounding completely different to how you intended it to and then it just completely loses its meaning?
Finally, if we fast forward to New Year’s Eve at the end of the year, what would you like to have achieved musically?
Oooo, I really want to release an EP! In my head I have like ten songs that I know would work really well but then again that’s more of an album not an EP so we’ll see what happens on that front I guess…But I really want to produce it well and take time over making it the best it could be!
After that I think that I would like to start touring and playing more live shows? It’s been a dream of mine for ages but I also get a bit nervous before going on stage and I think having a few more upbeat songs to get a crowd hyped up would really help with that!
Now if you're just as intruiged as I first was when I heard about neLLa, then you can check her track 'Waste' here: