Nina Lee Discusses the Importance of Impacting Others with Her Music: "Connection Between Others Is What I Aspire to Create"
Soulful songstress Nina Lee strives to tell a story that touches others with her music. At only 17 years old, Lee herself was influenced and inspired by music at a very young age, something that quickly determined her career path, and now that she has a platform, it's no surprise that she wants to become that catalyst for others. Her journey begins with her recently released debut EP, Snapshots. As the title suggests, the EP is a collection of "snapshots" - moments and memories from Lee's family and upbringing, weaving vivid stories about everything from the power of family, to the effects of bullying, to the importance of inner strength.
Snapshots serves as the perfect start for Nina Lee's career in music, and with a positive outlook, a strong support system and plenty more stories to tell with her music, there's no doubt that she'll only continue to soar. Learn more about Snapshots, listen to Lee's stunning track, "Airborne" below, and be sure to keep and eye out for what comes next.
Interview by Shannon Shumaker
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself for any readers who might not be familiar? What first sparked your interest in music?
Well, my name is Nina, I am 17 and I am a singer/songwriter. I want to spread music throughout the world that will make people feel something. Impacting someone. I was always involved with music for as long as I can remember. My dad Andy is a guitarist so whenever he would be strumming on his guitar, I would hum along. Before I was able to walk or talk I would sing. Music has always been my passion, and will always be a special connection that I share with my dad.
What would you like listeners to be able to take away from the songs that you write? What do you feel is the most important thing about your music?
My main goal is to influence people through music. The feeling and the emotion behind songs can be really impactful in someone’s life. I hope that my songs can make people feel that way. My music is important because it is unfiltered and raw. It is me, the bad and the good. I want people to see that music is not only there for the uplifting times in life, but it also can be a comfort for the downfalls. Connection between others is what I aspire to create. I want my music to resonate and hopefully people feel the same.
You just released your debut EP, Snapshots. What are you excited for listeners to hear on this release?
“Snapshots” is a work of art that I am so proud of. It tells my family story and the events that led up to me. This album is very emotional for me, but also what I love is that it is very impactful to others, which I think is really important. To have the opportunity to affect people with my music makes me really excited. I am excited for people to see me in all my colors, to understand that they are not alone. It is hard to put something so personal into the world, but when you do it feels like you are lifting a huge weight off your chest.
As a collage of moments and memories, were there any specific stories that you wanted to tell on Snapshots?
Every single song on the EP has a special significance and meaning in my life. I usually talk about "Airborne" because that is the single, but I would like to tell you about "Golden Years." One of the closet people that I have in my life is my mom’s dad. I call him Pop. I love him in such a unique way and I always have been extremely close to him. He is my best friend, and my partner in crime. He is my number one fan. My grandma is also super-special in her own ways, which are different from his but surprisingly complimentary. She is a very fast-moving person, who always has the best intentions. I originally wrote “Golden Years” to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, but it got such a great reaction from so many people that it rose to the top of the list of choices for the EP. The song is the story of them. She made him the man he is today, and he shaped her as well. I wanted to write that to them in the best way I knew how. When you are married 50 years, the gift that is traditionally given is gold. This time is the only “Golden Years” they are going to get so I wanted to mark the occasion by writing something that would capture that. Maybe for their 60th, I’ll write something about diamonds, which is the traditional gift for that year.
As you mentioned, a really unique track on the EP is your recently released single, “Airborne,” which actually takes listeners back in time in your family’s history. Can you tell us a little bit about the story behind the song?
My great-grandfather was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne during World War II. He was a war veteran, received the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, and many other honors. My great-grandmother, who is now 94, was the support holding him up regardless. While he was a war hero, she was a warrior at home. She raised 6 children, one who had special needs and disabilities and required constant care, and she took care of everybody, never asking for anything in return. After my great-grandfather died, I was unable to articulate my words to her. I was sitting at the piano, and “Airborne” was made. She told me the other day that she wanted to thank me for keeping his memory alive. That was the best recognition I think I have ever received. I think this song also gives her hope to know he is still with us and gives her encouragement to be optimistic for the future.
Did you come across any big challenges when working on the EP? How did you overcome them?
I wanted to make sure that this EP was depicted in the exact right way, because if it wasn’t I was afraid the message would not be as impactful. I worked with my amazing producer Steve Greenwell to make sure every song fit a certain criteria. I also had my singing teacher Kate Baker with me throughout the recording process to help me make the songs have the right energy and presence. When I was singing for such long periods of time, having her there to help me use techniques and warm-ups was great. Listening to the final product solidified that everything I imagined had been achieved. I am just ecstatic about this EP and can’t wait for people to hear it.
What were some of the most rewarding or exciting moments of working on Snapshots?
My most rewarding moments during “Snapshots” were having my family there. My great grandmother Face-timed with me during the recording of “Airborne” and my grandparents Renee and Stephen were there for every song and every session. Having my family present made the experience so enjoyable and so rewarding. We all invested a lot into this EP so it was really exciting to complete it along with such influential people in my life.
Are there any stories that you maybe weren’t able to tell on the EP that you’d like to touch on in the future? What goals do you have moving forward?
Unlike many children, I always thought that I was old enough to be involved in the adult conversations. I love hearing stories and never wanted to miss any details. Every family story someone has told me once, I remember perfectly. I am good with names and time periods about when something happened. I have so many stories up my sleeve that I am eager to share with the world. On this EP, every story I wanted to be told was told, and I don’t think there was anything missing. For the future, I have no shortage of stories, and my goal is to keep sharing them with the world. I just want to make a difference in others’ lives the way I feel people have made in mine.
With the EP out now, do you have any other big plans for the rest of 2017? What are you looking forward to next year?
I am ready for whatever life throws at me. I have an amazing support system and I am ready. I’ve had some great opportunities to play live at some really cool NYC venues, like Rockwood Music Hall and The Bitter End, and Mercury next month. I could not be more thankful for where I am right now, and I hope to just further myself in my carrier. I plan to continue my music and see where each note takes me.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I am just so happy to be able to share my story with you and hope I can come back soon! I just want to leave everyone reading this with a saying my mom has always said to me, and a line in one of my songs “Safe Place”, “it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”