17-year-old Edinburgh singer Nina Nesbitt rides high in charts

Nina Nesbitt
Nina Nesbitt
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The interview is over and the recorder has been switched off. And then ten minutes later Nina Nesbitt texts me back to say she’s just had one of her songs played on BBC Radio 1 by Fearne Cotton. “You might wanna add that in,” she suggests.

It’s all relevant. After all, we’ve just been chatting about what a whirlwind few months it’s been for the 17-year-old former Balerno High School pupil.

This time last year she was “just playing and writing” in her bedroom. And now she’s being hailed as pop’s next big thing - ‘a maverick, a one-off, utterly idiosyncratic and totally unique’, reckons The Guardian.

As if that wasn’t enough she is currently riding high in the iTunes charts with new EP The Apple Tree; has just kicked off her a UK headline tour and is said to be dating man of the moment Ed Sheeran.

That rumour has been doing the rounds for a few months, though when probed Nesbitt tells me they are just friends.

“It’s a friendship, definitely,” she insists. “It’s kind of been all over the media lately. I think it’s probably just because we’ve toured a lot together and we’re both young and... we’re really close friends, so I think that’s why it’s been rumoured to be a relationship. But no, just friends.”

All in all it’s an exciting time for the young singer who looks poised to become a household name this year, not to mention Edinburgh’s biggest pop export since Shirley Manson.

“The past eight months have been a bit crazy,” she smiles. “I’m loving it, though. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, so it’s great that I can finally do it.”

At the time of our chat, The Apple Tree is sitting at No.9 on the iTunes chart, rubbing shoulders with two of Nesbitt’s biggest inspirations, Jessie J and Emeli Sande.

“It’s also No.1 on the iTunes singer-songwriter chart,” she says with a sense of nervous excitement. “It’s all just absolutely mental.

“I didn’t even expect it to get into the Top 100, so yeah, it’s a bit nuts.”

The precociously-talented teen has got where she is today without the backing of a label, though she is in negotiations with several record companies about an album deal.

Soon she will collaborate with the people who have co-written songs with superstars like Adele and James Morrison, although as she is keen to point out, “I prefer to write on my own, but I think it’s good to write with others who have a bit more experience than me.

“There’s a lot I can learn from them,” she adds.

Nesbitt, whose rise began after a chance meeting with Sheeran last year led to her being invited to join him on his sell-out European tour, takes to the Electric Circus stage on Saturday night.

Nesbitt is used to playing packed venues alongside Sheeran and rapper Example, who she opened for during his three sold-out December gigs. But the fledgling star insists that nothing beats performing live in Edinburgh.

“It’s my home city so it’s always a little more special,” she says. “It will be really cool to play my first headline gig there.”

As for her future plans, she says, “I’ve got a few gigs promoting this EP and hope to add more festival dates.

“I’m releasing a few singles and maybe another EP in the autumn. And probably the album next year. I think February would be a good time.”

Nina Nesbitt, Electric Circus, Market Street, Saturday, 7pm, £6.50, 0131-226 4224

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