Written by Standard Issue


Nadine Shah has the answers

Sublime singer songwriter Nadine Shah is basking in the success of her second album, Fast Food. Not that its title was inspired by her culinary leanings. This lass is all about the curry.

Nadine ShahHow’s your summer been… how was Glastonbury?

Great, the weather was good and our stage was busy. I hadn’t intended on staying but after a few G&Ts, I was persuaded.

When you won your recent award back on your home turf (The Newcastle Journal Culture Award for Performing Artist of the Year) you said you’d be moving back to the north east. What made you decide to do that?

I want to buy a house and be closer to my parents. I love London and really will miss it but it’s changing here. It’s gotten too expensive, cruel almost. In the north east I can afford a home that I’d genuinely look forward to moving into. The north east has plenty to offer and is getting better and better all the time.

The way your second album Fast Food has been received must have made you happy? Were you nervous before it was released?

Yeah of course, I’m always nervous before an album comes out. People’s opinions of my work matter a lot to me, especially existing fans who liked my previous album. I think they too were satisfied with the new album, thank goodness.

“We’ve started to get dancing. I find it off-putting, so I can’t watch or I’ll laugh. I fully welcome it though!”

Do you suffer with nerves when it comes to performing/reviews etc?

I have chronic anxiety so it’s more anxiousness than nerves I get.

When you’re writing, what do you need?

Just peace and quiet and food supplies!

Which song on the album came easiest?
I can’t remember. Possibly The Gin One. I wrote the entire song, lyrics and melody, in a few hours. Usually I’d make unfinished ideas within a day and revisit them at a later date to complete them. I couldn’t tell you why that particular song came easier to me though.

Which is your favourite track on the record?
Stealing Cars.

Which track do you think will be the biggest hit?

It’s between Fool and Stealing Cars I think; that’s just judging by the audience reaction at shows. Those two get the biggest applause.

Has playing the album live been as enjoyable as you thought it would be?

More. It’s a more upbeat record than my first, intentionally so. I wanted to make people move this time round, not just the audience but my band too. So yeah, we’ve started to get dancing. I find it off-putting, so I can’t watch or I’ll laugh. I fully welcome it though!

Fast Food album coverWhose opinion do you value the most when it comes to your music?

My producer and collaborator Ben Hillier and Pete Jobson of I Am Kloot. They both know what they’re talking about and I trust them. We all seem to be on the same page musically. I’m not afraid to embarrass myself in front of those two either.

When it comes to musical heroes, who are your top three?

Nina Simone
Arthur Russell
Scott Walker

Do you get sick of being compared to PJ Harvey and Nick Cave? Do you see where people find that comparison?

No I don’t mind; it’s just daunting is all. I love both those artists and understand that music is an abstract thing and people need ways to describe it, so we use comparisons. I guess Nick Cave and PJ aren’t miles away from what I do. I just need to put in the hours to do the comparison justice.

When did you realise/decide you were going to be a singer?

Young, I was a lazy kid at school and hated all academic institutions. Although I saw myself more as a Mariah Carey than a PJ Harvey back then!

Do you ever make an appearance on stage at the jazz clubs where you used to sing?

I might do…

What track(s) do you play when you need:

Cheering up: The Pointer Sisters, Automatic
Calming down: kd lang, You’re OK
A shot in the arm: Busta Rhymes, Gimme Some More
Inspiration: Scott Walker’s back catalogue
To dance: Any uptempo track by Googoosh
To go to sleep: Music doesn’t help me to sleep; it has the opposite effect on me. I wouldn’t be able to switch off while listening to music.

When you’re not working, what else do you like to do?

I seem to spend a lot of time in seaside towns around the UK. I was looking through my Instagram account and I’m at the seaside every few weeks.

What has been your proudest creative moment to date?

Releasing my first album and publicly speaking about mental health.

What would you like to erase from your past?

Not telling, cause you’ll Google it!

What brings you the most joy?

Sitting round a table drinking and eating with my nearest and dearest.

“I think any mass appreciation put upon a person can be dangerous. I’d be crap at being famous.”

What makes you angry?

The negative racist press there has been towards migrants in Calais.

A Tory government. I hate living in a country run by a Tory government. I hate that people voted for them.

Which performer has been your biggest inspiration?

Nina Simone.

Do you have career ambitions outside of music?

Music is my trade so I only wish to experiment in that medium. I’m an enthusiastic photographer and painter but I like having them as my hobbies and not sharing.

Have you ever met someone who made you go weak at the knees (and who was it)?

I got the giggles around Graham Coxon a few times. He’s the only member of Blur that still does it for me.

What advice would you give a woman who wants a career in music?

The same advice I’d give to a man: treat music like it’s your trade and work your arse off.

What does fame mean to you?

I think a little fame is fun but any more than that is of no interest to me. I think that’s where it stops being fun. If it interferes with your privacy and everyday routine, that’s when it can become unhealthy. I think any mass appreciation put upon a person can be dangerous. I’d be crap at being famous.

How do you define success?

Just having made two albums is success enough for me, a few more would have me satisfied though.

“I seem to spend a lot of time in seaside towns around the UK. I was looking through my Instagram account and I’m at the seaside every few weeks.”

What’s the best advice you’ve ever had?

Simple and obvious but… to always be punctual and polite. Never piss off the sound man.

Where did you go on your favourite holiday?

Istanbul, it’s my favourite city. I love everything about the place. I’d live there if I could.

Who can’t you live without?

My best friend, she’s like my PA. I’m useless and she keeps me right.

What can’t you live without?


What would constitute your favourite three-course meal?

Indian street food platter; curries; pistachio ice cream and an alcoholic digestive.

What’s the best thing about being you?

Being half Pakistani, I hold the secret to making killer curries!


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Written by Standard Issue