I don’t actually know where I am right now,” laughs Nina Nesbitt as we catch her on a cross-country car journey, the evening before her appearance at Pukkelpop Festival. “Somewhere in Belgium; we’ve been travelling all day, but it’s been a good journey!” The 19-year-old half Scottish, half Swedish singer could just as easily be referring to the past two years, as she is the road trip.
Having posted videos of herself on YouTube, performing a mixture of self penned tracks and covers – including her version of Example’s ‘Stay Awake’, which saw her invited to support the singer on a UK arena tour – Nina quickly built up an online fan base. Her debut single, ‘Boy’ was released in October 2012, with top 40 hit ‘Stay Out’ following in April 2013, and ‘Way In The World’ providing her festival crowd-pleaser this past summer. “T In The Park was my favourite festival this year,” says Nina. “I was amazed at how many people showed up to watch me. Belladrum was great too, though, and I’m really excited to be playing V Festival this weekend.”
Now a distant memory, Nina’s set at the Stafford festival went down a storm, but we can’t help but wonder if the petite blonde managed to complete another V Fest mission she had in mind. “I really want to sneak into Beyoncé’s dressing room,” she told us. “I’m intrigued to see what her new short hair looks like in the flesh and I just think she’s amazing. To quote the song, she’s the ultimate ‘Independent Woman’, and such a great role model to so many people.”
With her own position in the spotlight sealed, ‘role model’ is a title that Nina is only too happy to live up to herself. “I used to model when I was about 14,” she says, having recently been announced as the face of clothing label Yumi’s Autumn/Winter 2013 campaign.
“It’s nice to be doing it again, although it’s very different now that I’m known for my singing. Back then the girls could be so bitchy, and I would get told I had cellulite, even at that young age. I stopped doing it, but I hope that by modelling again now I can be a role model to young women, and show that they don’t have to be perfect to be in front of the camera.”
Clearly a fashion fan, Nina cites Urban Outfitters, Topshop, Rokit and Beyond Retro amongst her favourite stores. “I usually wear a mix of high street and vintage,” she says, “but it depends on the occasion. If I was going to choose a favourite designer I’d probably say Burberry; I like how they manage to incorporate a music element into their campaigns. Lacoste make some really nice pieces too.”
With her new single – a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Don’t Stop’ – due for release on September 30th, and her debut album on the way too, Nina reflects on how her music has evolved since those early YouTube offerings. “There’s definitely been a progression,” she says. “I’ve grown up, I guess. The album’s a bit heavier, with a lot more electric guitar in there, but I’d rather let people make up their own minds about it.”
And, in the spirit of Freshers’ time, what would Nina tell her (slightly) younger self? “Be true to yourself, listen to your own opinions, stop worrying about exams and definitely stop dressing so weirdly,” she says, finishing our interview as she began, with a laugh. And rightly so – this girl has got plenty to smile about.
Nina’s new single, ‘Don’t Stop’, is released on September 30th