Nina Lee may be 17, but she has the maturity and heart of someone that has lived so many more years. Her eagerness to use music as a healing tool, helps her transform from just “another rising artist” to want that feels arisen. When your purpose is to help others then others want to listen, and her EP, Snapshots, is sonic therapy for those looking for inner strength by looking through their past to see into their future.
Diandra: At just 17 years old, you music has been called enchanting, moving, and captivating. How does having such high praise, when you are just at your beginning, motivate you in creating and forwarding your sound?
Nina: I am very moved and humbled by the feedback I have been given so far. I am grateful that this journey I have been working so long to achieve has finally happened. It is validating that my music does speak to people, and makes me even more excited to further myself in this craft. As I grow as an artist, I just want to learn everything I can and take the advice of seasoned professionals. Putting something so personal into a world of judgment can be scary, but I am really glad that I did it. It allows me to be authentic and speak my truth.
Diandra: Snapshots is very much a nostalgic EP. What is it about looking backwards that you feel helps forward a person?
Nina: We all learn from our mistakes. Everyone says, “If I knew then what I know now”, they would do it differently. Everyone has to go through their own experiences, but being aware of the past can help someone make better decisions in the future. I also love to look backwards because I feel like I get to know the people in my family who are not here anymore. I get to learn stories about my family and the history of how my story began. Nobody starts without a background. Embracing where you are from, good or bad, can make you a more well-rounded person. I think that understanding my roots allows me to better myself for future endeavors.
Diandra: Your songs seems to be about finding your inner strength, especially in the face of those who do not believe in you and for the faces that do. Name one time you had to find your inner strength to do something, and what was the lesson you gained and the advice you would give?
Nina: Inner strength can be shown in the most unorthodox ways. Feeling secure in yourself can help you display that to others. I am lucky enough to have a very strong family, and I realized that the only thing that matters is how I see myself and how my family sees me. If I try my best, it doesn’t matter how others look at me. When I was 14, I recorded a song called “Try to Break Me,” which was an anti-bullying song. It’s not my style now, but it was something I was passionate about spreading awareness of. Even after I released it, people in school would still make fun of me for the anti-bullying song I wrote. I find it kind of ironic that I was being bullied about an anti-bullying song. The hardest thing for me to do was to not react. I just would walk away. It doesn’t seem like much, but for me, it was one of the turning points in my life. I realized I couldn’t change anyone else; I could only change how their behavior affected me. Just believe in yourself, even if it’s hard, because even though you think it won’t get better, I promise it will.
Diandra: Being a songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist, what aspect of your personality do you feel each outlet brings out of you?
Nina: Being a songwriter allows me to express myself in the most articulate way I know how. I surprise myself with what I am able to string together. Songwriting allows me to be a better singer. I connect with the songs I write and that allows me to give more to the performance. For other songs that are not mine, I still relate to them, but when it is my song, the emotion comes out a little differently. Playing instruments has been a tool that has allowed me to paint the whole picture of the song. It brings the song to life. Music is what calms my nerves, and melts the stress away. When I am on that stage I just feel calm and like I am where I belong.
Diandra: When did you know that music would be your life’s goal, and how do you feel your family has helped and cheered your through it?
Nina: There has never been a time when music was not my main aspiration in life. From day one, I was musical. My parents never pushed me into anything but allowed me to choose my own path and helped to nurture it. My dad being a guitarist has helped me tremendously because it was something we could do together. It’s a bonding activity we have done for as long as I can remember. My family has been nothing but supportive of my dream, doing everything they can to give me my best shot. They are selfless people who never once have made me feel limited. Without a strong family, I would not be in the position I am in today. They are everything to me and always will be.
Diandra: “Airborne” was written after you discovered the letters exchanged between your great-grandparents. Tell me about the discovery of those letters and how they influenced “Airborne”? What did those letters teach you about love that you hope to carry in your own future?
Nina: Airborne represents everything that I hope to have one day. When I look at my parents I see true, everlasting love. I had that same feeling when I looked at the letters my great-grandparents shared. The letters look like they could be out of a romantic movie. They are in such pristine condition and they demonstrate the difference of the time periods. When I am older, people will not find their grandparents letters, they will find their old texts. This is pure love. This is what one can only hope to have one day. That is the dream. I want to make sure in my own life that I never settle for anything less than exceptional. Airborne came out of an authentic old-school love story and the letters just solidify that.
Diandra: Name 3 random facts about and 2 dreams/ aims you have for yourself that you say, “If you do not know this then you do not know Nina Lee?
Nina: I have many dreams and goals for myself, some more realistic than others. One of my main goals in life is to get married and be a mother one day. I have always, from a young age, been very taken with children. Having my own child has always been what I have foreseen in the future and one of my biggest goals. I also am very interested in helping children with special needs. I hope that through my music I could work with children in music therapy one day. I would love to make an impact on others and music therapy may lend itself to that. Something that is not so random, but not many know about me, is that I am fluent in American Sign Language. I have always been heavily defined by my voice, but I thought if someone couldn’t hear me they would find other qualities about me that I didn’t even know I had. I also am hypermobile in all my joints so I can bend my arms and legs farther than most people. Finally, my little sister usually acts more like the big sister than I do. She tells me what to do, and for some reason I listen!
Diandra:What is your happiest memory, so far, of performing?
Nina: Every single moment that I have performed, has been the happiest moment. I have never had an experience on stage when I wasn’t happy. I think that is why I keep performing; to try to continuously re-create that euphoric feeling I get on stage. I really couldn’t pin point a time where I felt happiest on stage because every time I am on stage is when I am my best self. It is when I am the happiest, and when I am the most confident. Performing is my happy memory.
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