Interview und Konzertbericht: NAO live in Köln

Im Plausch mit: NAO + Konzertbericht

It would be a chocolate cake, but with a bit of spices in it that you wouldn’t expect. Every cake has a little surprise.

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Konzert und Interview am 11. April 2016 im Studio672 in Köln
Text, Interview und Fotos: Jennifer Gottstein

Zwischen Elektro-R’n’B und Schokokuchen: Nao in Köln

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Nao – eine Newcomerin aus England, die ihr Heimatland längst mit ihrem Elektro-R’n’B verzaubert hat, hat uns unlängst mit ihrer ersten Headlinertour durch Deutschland beehrt. Sowohl Köln als auch Berlin hatten bzw. haben die Ehre, die junge Künstlerin begrüßen zu dürfen. Vor ihrem Auftritt im Kölner Studio672 habe ich sie zum Interview getroffen und war bereits vor ihrem Auftritt hin und weg von ihr. Ihre Natürlichkeit und Frohnatur haben mich sofort eingenommen und wir haben viel gelacht – über Spice Girls und spicy Schokokuchen.

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Interview

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Let’s start right at the beginning: What was the first time you fell in love with music and what was the band?
I don’t know if this is a good question to start with (lacht) because the first time you fell in love with music is when you are very little, isn’t it? And then it’s probably a pop band like the Spice Girls or something like that, because you are four years old. Well, so it’s probably the spice girls, but then I think it’s pretty cool to start with, because it is not related to what I do now. Well, see, your parents play music and my Dad loved Marvin Gaye, like he had his album on all the time and I loved that without knowing. Every time he put on the song I felt happy, because I recognized it and it’s tied to my memories. So I guess Marvin Gaye was the first time I fell in love with music… and the Spice Girls (lacht).

Well, that’s a cool mix!
Yeah, totally!

Is that a musician that influenced you a lot then as well, Marvin Gaye?
Yeah, a hundred percent! Especially lyrically actually. That’s the thing about Marvin Gaye: his lyrics were super clean. And I don’t mean clean as like swearing or not swearing. It’s more like, there are kind of obvious in a beautiful way. His poetry was so good, that you don’t have to read between the lines, he already spelt everything out for you and I felt like this way is really lovely. Sometimes it can be a little bit cheesy, but somehow he didn’t make it cheesy. Stevie Wonder does the same thing as well. He writes very beautiful lyrics that are super clear. And anyone could understand it and somehow it is not cheesy. They both massively influenced me. It’s just the speaking from the heart I think.

Is that something you try as well in your songs?
Yeah, definitively! It just comes from the heart.

Interview und Konzertbericht: NAO live in Köln

NAO + Band live in Köln

You also studied Jazz in the UK. What did you learn there? What did you take from the studies for writing your own music?
I took a lot from it, I think. The thing about studying Jazz is, that Jazz itself takes so many types of music and it’s all about improvising as well, which helps me with my own music. When it comes to write a song for yourself, well at least for me, I just put it out there, any ideas. Theirs is no wrong or right answer. A baseline or lyrics, you just improvise with it and somehow you created music, you created a song. And Jazz helped me with that a lot.

What did you do after graduation? How did you become a solo artist?
So, after I graduated I always was in the singing scene, which is doing backing vocals, doing adverts, you know, singing for other people’s projects. And eventually in singing for other people’s projects I got discovered by my now manager, who encouraged me to start my own music. And I did and now I am here.

How long is that ago?
That’s two years ago now.

That’s not too long ago, but you actually already startet your own label. How did you come up with the idea to start your own label?
Well, I wasn’t signed when I first put my music out, so my first two EPs, which are the only things that I’ve put out right now. So starting my own label… well, first of all I think it’s quite cool to have your own label. It’s very empowering. You own all your own music. And you have a good enough brand or name around yourself, hopefully other people come on board. Because if your audience believe that you understand what good music is, they will give a listen to the people you sign. So all together it’s a good platform. And I will hopefully sign some people, but I will need to work on myself first.

So, you are actually planning on signing people?
Yes, I hope so!

That’s amazing! Did the background singing help you to gain experienced with the music business or did it influence you in any way?
I’ve definitively learned a lot. When you are backround singing you are picking up loads of stuff even about the music business. I could see all the decisions that the artists I was singing for had to make every day and how the business worked. Even from basic things like this case: I am getting booked for a festival and I know that playing a festival on a certain time on a certain stage may be a good thing or it could be the worst thing, because you might be crashing with a headliner. Or you’ve played this stage before an you know it’s rubbish. I’ve learned loads of stuff, so now I can be like “I am not gonna play that stage, give me another time!” (lacht) So it’s been useful. Obviously I have also learned from the people I’ve sung with how to perform and hopefully capture an audience.

That’s probably a very good and helpful experience to know how to act on stage!
Totally!

Since you have to go on stage soon, here’s my last question and it’s probably the most important: Your debut album will be released in Germany this summer! You’ve called your music “wonky funk” before. What can we expect from your upcoming album? What will it sound like?
It will sound like wonky funk. These last two EPs I put out is me basically trying to work out what it is I want to say musically. I feel like at the end of the second EP I arrived there and I was like “Oh, okay I just discovered what my sound is like.” So the album is kind of summing it all up. That’s what wonky funk is like. It’s influences from by past: Michael Jackson, Prince, R’n’B from the 90s. It’s me putting all this in a mixing bowl, all these ingredients and in the cake that comes out it’s a bit wonky and a bit funky. That’s my album: it’s a cake. (lacht)

What kind of cake would it be if you had to bake it?
It would be a chocolate cake, but with a bit of spices in it that you wouldn’t expect. Every cake has a little surprise.

Sounds delicious!
Yes, it is. It’s a delicious album.

Well, so we started with the Spice Girls and end up with a spicy cake. Good talk! Thanks for your time!
(lacht) That’s perfect! Thanks a lot.

Interview und Konzertbericht: NAO live in Köln

Voller Hingabe: NAO

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Ganz ehrlich, eine bezaubernde Künstlerin, die ihr Album mit einem würzigen Schokokuchen vergleicht – da hatte sie mich. Keine Stunde später kam sie auf die Bühne, das Studio672 war prall gefüllt mit den veschiedensten Leuten. Mit bunten Klamotten und barfuß war sie nicht minder sympathisch und riss das Publikum ab dem ersten Song mit. Ihre Band war mindestens genauso motiviert und startet von 0 auf 100 beim ersten Song des Abends. Die Zuschauer_innen hält es nicht lange ruhig und alle tanzen durch den aufgehitzten Kellerraum. Für viele ist NAO keine Fremde, denn es wird lauthals mitgesungen und (sogar für Kölner Verhältnisse) sehr wild getanzt.

Ein Song für das tanzende Köln

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Als dann ihr Song „Fireflies“ ertönt, jubelt die Menge. Den Song hat sie mit Mura Masa zusammen geschrieben und hat auch berichtet, dass ebendieser sie heute angerufen hat mit der Bitte, sie solle doch einen Song für ihn schreiben. Da sie noch am selben Tag anfing den Song zu schreiben (und weil ihr die Stadt so gut gefällt), hat sie ihn jetzt schon den Kölner_innen gewidmet – jetzt gibt’s für das Publikum kein Halten mehr. So ein Kompliment bekommt man nicht immer. Mehr als eine Stunde singt und wirbelt sie über die Bühne mit andauerndem Applaus und textsicheren Fans aus dem Publikum. Was für ein Abend!

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Diskografie
2014 – So Good EP
2016 – February 15

Konzert-Tipp: NAO live in Berlin und Köln



Jenny
Wer?

Aufgewachsen in einer zugegebenermaßen recht unmusikalischen Familie fing ich früh mit dem Schlagzeug spielen an, das ich aber aus Platz- und Lärmgründen während meines Philosophiestudiums aufgeben musste. Seither beschäftige ich mich einfach passiv mit der Musik und versuche erst gar nicht mehr meinen Geschmack einzugrenzen, denn je mehr desto besser. Immer. Überall. Ich höre u.a. Musik von Beatsteaks, Chance Waters, Moop Mama, Ratatat, Dendemann, Miike Snow, Hein Cooper, Tüsn, LOT.


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