Nao seemed to come out of nowhere last year. Within only a few months her name appeared on two of the most exciting electronic music tracks of 2015 when she lent her fragile yet full voice to Disclosure’s Superego and Mura Masa’s Superfly which charted in the Belgium dance charts.
Now the 28-year-old singer is entering the spotlight in her own right. Her debut album For All We Know is an intriguing mix of genres ranging from soul to funk and house music. Lauded unanimously by British music critics, the London based singer is now setting her sights on an international breakthrough with her current single Girlfriend. Here, Nao walks us through her musical day.
More on Nao at thisnao.com.
9AM: Chaka Khan – I Know You, I Live You
“I usually wake up quite early at around 6.30am, not out of choice, but because of my body clock. Often I put my laptop and my keyboard on my bed and just write down ideas. I get some really interesting lyrics out when I’m sleepy, because I’m not overthinking it. That’s where a lot of my ideas for my album came along.”
“The first thing I do when I get up around 9 is put on a record. It’s not the same song each morning, but one that always makes me smile. My favourite is I Know You, I Live You by Chaka Khan. It’s so funky and her vocals are just incredible, the horn section is really big. The whole song feels like a really beautiful summer morning, which is really good for England, because it’s always raining.”
11AM: James Blake – Radio Silence
“Late in the morning I usually walk to the studio for rehearsals. One song that I’ve been listening to a lot recently on my way there is James Blake’s Radio Silence. It’s really beautiful. There are so many interesting sounds and landscapes happening in his music. I can literally get ideas just by listening to it. Not many people are able to make that kind of sophisticated and yet accessible pop music. I’m always in awe of that because I try to do the same thing.”
3PM: Loxe – Footprints Pt. 2
“My studio is down in a basement and there are no windows. But what’s really nice about it is that I have a lot of my friends who work in other rooms in the same space. We have a living room in which we hang out together. In the afternoon we often do listening sessions and play each other music that we are working on. My friend Loxe is there as well. He has also worked on my new album. He’s a great producer, this song off his Footprints EP is one of my favourites.
“Producing my own record has been quite integral to me. I started a lot of the ideas before opening up to other people to help me. The reason why I could do that was because Loxe helped me. He taught me about production, how to make beats and how to create sounds. What’s nice is that we did an exchange. He taught me about production and I taught him about singing and song writing.”
7PM: Stevie Wonder – As
“My partner usually gets home before me. He’s not a musician, but he loves records. There’s constantly music playing in our home, so when I get home I often listen to something he’s listening to. He loves hip-hop, but lately we’ve been listening to Stevie Wonder’s album Songs In The Key of Life a lot, because we saw his show at Hyde Park in London recently.
“My favourite song from that album is As. It’s a really popular Stevie tune, I used to sing it a lot in my past life when I was a session singer, I would sing in wedding bands when we did covers. I just love to sing it, it’s a nice acknowledgement of the past. And seeing Stevie performing it live was absolutely amazing.”