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How Gothenburg’s Fishing District Helped Indo-Swedish Singer Nadia Nair Find Her Voice

Watch the vocalist’s striking video for her new heavy ballad ‘Sway’

David Britto Feb 27, 2019

Indo-Swedish vocalist Nadia Nair. Photo: Courtesy of the artist

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As soon as you take a listen to Indo-Swedish singer Nadia Nair’s music, you can instantly hear a juxtaposition of genres from jazz, blues, R&B, soul, rock and pop. Ask her how all these sonic elements have crept into her sound and the singer says, “Jazz is just the birth mother of most genres, she is present in most things. I don’t know how to explain my music with genres, it is sung from the soul at least.” While the soundscapes might differ in her music, the common thread running through all of Nair’s songs is her vocal prowess.

After the release of her debut album Beautiful Poetry in 2016, followed by a string of singles, the Gothenburg-based musician recently dropped her latest offering ”“ the dynamical and dark “Sway.” On the song, Nair says, “It was a sort of warning anthem inspired by a dude’s betrayal. At the end of the day I just want to awake emotion with the listener.”

Brought up by a Swedish father and an Indian-Malaysian mother, Nair grew up in a suburb just outside Gothenburg. She says, “It’s a chill laidback town, we’ve got a lot of fishermen”¦ it’s known for its seafood.” It was here where Nair began making a name for herself by playing plenty of underground gigs in Gothenburg’s music scene. “I owe tribute to some of my earliest live memories from here,” she says.

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Nair’s biggest inspiration is one of India’s greatest exports, Freddie Mercury. As a child the singer was mesmerized by British rock band Queen’s magnum opus “Bohemian Rhapsody.” She says, “I’ve always felt like a bit of a freak, like I didn’t know where I belonged and Queen’s music and Freddie Mercury’s artistry just made me feel like ”˜oh wow”¦ anything is possible, I don’t need to belong.’”

When Nair says she didn’t know where she belonged, she means it. The singer had a tough upbringing expressing herself as a kid in Sweden and tell us it was not easy “trying to feel normal” growing up in a racist neighborhood. The singer says, “When there was no one ”˜like me’ growing up, I decided to be that person.” With major labels not willing to sign her on, Nair started her own, Naboobia Records, in 2016. “I think we all have our own stories and challenges that make us special in our own way. I, as an artist have the privilege to share mine,” the vocalist says.

The songwriting process for Nair follows her strongest asset, her voice. “I tend to build with a foundation of vocals. Layers and layers of it.” Her musical ideas usually come to her at some of life’s most inconvenient times; she tells us in jest, “When I’m on the toilet or on a train with lots of people, I’ll be whispering in memos on my phone.”

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On the live front, Nair is a regular performer in Sweden and also the U.K. Her setup includes Swedish musicians; guitarist Johan Jonasson and drummer Gabriel Runemark and at times also features backup singers. Next, the vocalist plans on putting out a couple more single releases along with visuals to complement them, collaborations and also a follow up to Beautiful Poetry. “It’s easy to spit out ideas but I’m in a phase of finishing now. Last year held a lot of extrovert energy for me and I was performing a lot. Right now I just want to be [an] introvert in the studio for a bit,” says Nair. 

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