Monday, 23 November 2015

Feature: Nadine Khouri (23/11/15)


Nadine Khouri is a composer, musician, lyrical poet and singer. Lebanese-born but displaced by the civil war when she was young, Khouri moved to England with her family and later to New York, where she first began performing her songs in small clubs in the East Village. However, currently based in London and influenced by dream-pop, moody soundtracks and spoken-word, Nadine is set to release her forthcoming album in 2016 and the first track to be released is 'You Got A Fire'... 

General Questions:

1. How old were you when you started getting involved in music and how?
I got into music in a big way after discovering Elvis Presley as a child. My father had some rock'n'roll  music in the house, so I grew up listening to The Beatles, Hendrix, a lot of 60s music... I taught myself to play guitar by listening to records and working songs out by ear mostly. I think I started writing almost as soon as I figured out how to strum a chord! I only started performing the songs when I was living in New York in my early twenties and then in London when I moved back... A couple of years ago, I picked up the ukulele, harmonium and midi to get away from the guitar and ended up writing a lot of my album that way. 

2. What is the most inspiring musical performance you've ever seen?
It was some time ago, but I'd have to say Lhasa de Sela at the Jazz Cafe. There are few shows that have ever come close to that experience in my life. I felt she was able to make time stand still for the entire set. 

3. Who have you been listening to lately?
At the moment, I've been listening to London-based band Hejira, Eska, Xylouris White, Lou Reed, Giant Sand. 

3 Qs for Nadine:

1. What three countries would you most like to tour and why?
Ha! It's hard to narrow it down to three really, as I'd love to see as many places as possible. I'd love to tour in France as I speak the language and I've never spent a lot of time there. Japan would be amazing, as I imagine it to be very different to anything I've known and I'm inspired by a lot of its writers, film-makers etc. Maybe Norway or Sweden too; it'd be different to anything I'm familiar with and there's a lot of music I love that comes from there too. 

2. Who influences your sound and what inspires you lyrically?
In terms of influences, I really like records that sound like their own self-contained world. The first time I consciously paid any attention to sound production for its own sake is probably when I heard 'To Bring You My Love' by PJ Harvey. I loved the way that record sounds so intimate, minimal but also like its own sonic universe. Also, the Low albums - I love how they create so much with minimal means and the sound of stillness that comes through their albums. As a teenager I fell in love with Mazzy Star & Sparklehorse for their soundscapes too, so I'd say I love music that takes me someplace else. Lyrically, I'm inspired by all kinds of things - visuals, stories, places, memory, anything that leaves an impression. 

3. What process did you go through writing 'You Got A Fire' and does it differ from the other tracks on your forthcoming album?
I wrote and demoed the song fairly quickly, unlike some of the other songs on the album. It was still early days for me playing the ukulele and the part came together with the words and harmony. The process was different in that the track had been around for longer than the others, so Ruban Byrne (electric guitar, BVs) and J Allen (Wurlitzer, BVs) had been playing the song with me for a while; the version you hear on the album also includes Huw Bennett (double-bass), Jean-Marc Butty (drums) and John Parish (acoustic guitar, BVs). I think it was the starting point for the whole album in terms of how I imagined it would end up - minimal, but also spacey and warm. It's the first track written on the album, so I'm glad to be releasing it first. 

Random Q:

A song to listen to on a sunny / rainy day?
How about 'Take Fountain' by Tom Brosseau?

'You Got A Fire' Review:
This single is beautiful, 'You Got A Fire' is a haunting, harmony-filled song which is incredibly easy to listen to. Both the track and music video hold a mystical and atmospheric element, with gradual layers building throughout. You can understand the minimal idea behind this album and the warm, dreamy ideal has really worked well. I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of the album now! 


Nadine's Links:

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