A lot can happen in a year. Just ask Nina Nesbitt.
This time 12 months ago, the former Balerno High School pupil was writing and recording songs in her bedroom after her shifts at clothing store River Island, where she worked part-time as a sales assistant.
Fast forward to the present and the precociously-talented youngster is on the brink of becoming a household name.
Just a few months ago, the 18-year-old signed a whopping million-pound recording deal with music giant Universal, which boasts an A-List roster that includes U2, Madonna, Rihanna and Florence and The Machine.
Nesbitt has spent the last few weeks in London, writing songs for her soon-to-be-released debut album with super-producer Jake Gosling, best known for his work with stars such as Wiley, Ed Sheeran and Paloma Faith.
Quite a culture shock as not only is it Nina’s first time away from home, she’s now rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest names in the music industry.
So life in the Big Smoke must be a bit different to Balerno?
“You can say that again!” she laughs. “I’m having an amazing time and learning so much, though I really miss my family and friends in Edinburgh.”
The night before our chat, Nesbitt had been late to bed after a long day in the recording studio was topped off with a midnight swim – “Not advisable in October!” Before bed, however, the singer did as she always does, bade farewell to her army of young fans on social network site Twitter.
“Night night... I’m going to sleep now and NOT setting an alarm... (yay),” she wrote.
The morning after and Nesbitt is still fast asleep as the clock approaches 11am. Meanwhile, her huge Twitter following seem to have been up for hours, posting all manner of Nina-related nonsense in the hope of earning themselves a “retweet” or a “follow” from their idol.
“Please can I get a retweet for my birthday today, Nina?” begs one fan. “Follow me, Nina. It would mean EVERYTHING to me,” pleads another.
Nina Nesbitt is the most modern of pop stars. She may still be a few months away from becoming a household name – that will undoubtedly happen when her debut album is released early next year – but on the internet she’s already a pretty big deal.
The golden-tressed, half-Scot, half-Swede currently has more than 36,000 followers on Twitter – “Nessies” and “Nesbians”, as they like to call themselves – her YouTube views run into the millions, and she has recently hit the No1 spot on the iTunes chart with her EP The Apple Tree.
Her star is set to soar even higher in the coming days when Boy, her first single for Universal, is officially released on Monday.
The song is being played daily on BBC Radio 1 by the likes of Fearne Cotton and the accompanying video for the single has already clocked up a staggering half-a-million views on YouTube.
Given the amount of airplay the song is receiving, Boy could see Nina enter the Official UK Singles Chart for the first time next week, though her management insist there’s no pressure on her to score a hit at the first time of asking.
Back to the present and Nina, who had sounded rather groggy when she answered the phone just after 11am – “Sorry if I seem a bit, you know . . . I’ve just woken up,” she offered by way of an apology – is starting to get into her flow as she explains what life as pop music’s “next big thing” is really like.
“I guess life is a lot different than it was before,” says the singer. “It’s a dream come true, though, so I’m not complaining, even if it is hard work at times.
“The hardest part is being away from family and friends while I’m in London making the album. I really miss Edinburgh and I’ve been back about once a month so far.
“I’m loving it, though. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do and it’s great that I can finally do it.”
Nina, who used to compete in gymnastics for Scotland – “I trained all the time and I was going to go to the Commonwealth Games but I decided to do music instead” – got her lucky break when she met pop-star-of-the-moment Ed Sheeran at a radio gig in Edinburgh last year.
“We got chatting and then I asked him if he had any tips on being a successful singer/songwriter,” she says. “Then he asked me to play him a song with his guitar. There were about ten people there.
“I played him one of the first songs that I ever wrote and then he invited me on tour with him. It was a really, really random day, but I’m so thankful for his support and him taking me on tour. It was such an amazing experience and he’s a lovely person.”
Since then, she’s toured Europe with Sheeran, though despite tabloid reports to the contrary, Nina insists the pair are not romantically linked, saying, “We’re just friends – no more”.
Earlier this year she joined London rapper and singer Example for some of the dates on his UK arena tour.
All this exposure led to Nina signing her first major recording deal in June.
“It’s great to have this record deal,” she says. “Before, I was doing everything for myself – the gigging, the promoting – and I was funding everything. Having the backing of a company like that enables me to do more of what I want to do.
“It’s a competitive deal which gives me creative control,” she adds.
What’s even more impressive about Nina’s success is that she didn’t have to take the X Factor route to get noticed.
“When I was younger I did think about it, but once I found out how it was run I wasn’t keen. As I got older I started to realise that I didn’t want to be a pop star as such, but rather someone who writes and plays the music that they love. I didn’t want to be singing other people’s songs. I love writing songs and I love playing live.”
Nina says one of her dreams is to perform live at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay event.
“That would be amazing, wouldn’t it?” she enthuses. “I’ve never actually been to the street party but a lot of my friends have. A lot of good artists obviously play at it, so it would be amazing to get that gig.”
If Boy is a hit, that dream could well come true. Not that Nina is expecting too much from her first single.
“It’s what’s we call a start-up single,” she explains, “so it’s all about just getting my music out there and the video up on YouTube, etc.
“The song is actually about 18 months old. I remember writing it in my bedroom by myself and it started with a similar guitar riff. However, it was put in the studio a couple of months ago and I really just clicked with some production ideas I had and it came to life.
“I’m not expecting it to climb high in the charts or anything like that. Not at all. It’s just about getting my music out there and letting people hear a different side to me.
“With the next single I think I’ll definitely be hoping for that,” she adds.
• Nina Nesbitt’s first single, Boy, is released on Monday
What school did you attend?
Balerno High School.
What book are you currently reading?
I don’t read books, never have. Sorry!
What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
What did the last text you
received on your phone say?
It was from my mum saying she can’t wait to see me when I get to Edinburgh.
What model of car do you drive?
I have just learned to drive and I don’t have a car yet.
Who is your favourite actor?
What was the last piece of music you listened to at home?
What is your favourite food?
What is your least favourite food? Mayonnaise.
What is your top tipple?
Vodka and cranberry.
How do you relax?
By writing songs, actually.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 26 May 2013
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