Out singer/songwriter Nadia Vaeh brings an upbeat and inspirational message to audiences via her new track, “RiSE“.
The Atlanta native began singing at the age of two and by middle school was performing in a traveling youth choir. Her artistic journey continued as she began booking modeling gigs and joined a local Atlanta circus. It was amid those divergent but creative outlets that music took on a more central role in her life.
Her mother was a poet who passed on her love of words fueling Nadia’s talent as a lyricist. But the young artist’s life took an unexpected turn at the age of 17 when she lost her mother to suicide.
Experiencing a turbulent chapter in her life, she dismantled her high-school band and stepped away from music for a time. What followed was a period of self-sabotage and unhealthy relationships until she reached back into her musical artistry for healing. “I made a lot of missteps when I first began my career and had to learn a lot of things the hard way.”
Inspired by sounds from all over the world, the alt-pop artist has been heavily influenced by her time spent in the Netherland Antilles island, Curaçao. She also draws from the roots of her father’s homeland of Lebanon and has an affinity for middle eastern music.
The new single “RiSE,” featuring Hazel Rose, is a mid-tempo musical cocktail blending hip-hop with a touch of reggae. Vaeh’s vocals dance across the heavy beat as she drops her message of positivity – “Life’s a ride, not a raceway.”
I recently chatted with the artist about the new release as well as where she finds inspiration and what helps her recharge.
The Randy Report: Congratulations on “RiSE” – what inspired you to write and record the song?
Nadia Vaeh: Thank you! The homies and I were all reflecting on what a fast-paced world in which we live and the many barriers that divide us from true human connection. I think we must have all felt the weight of shifts yet to come that night or something. I know we talked a lot about the flaws within society, as we were writing. The line “life’s a ride, not a raceway” kept coming up and that line has taken on more meaning than I think we all even knew on the eve we wrote “RiSE.”
TRR: Do you have a process when it comes to songwriting? Lyrics or music first?
NV: It varies from song to song! Sometimes a whole song is born from two lines I’ve written in my notepad, other times, I just can’t get a melody out of my head. I am definitely a more word driven writer though and I would say 9/10 songs the words or concept come first and attach themselves to a melody. Sometimes I don’t even feel like I’m in charge when I am in the flow-state space of a writing session. It becomes bigger than what I thought I wanted to write about.
TRR: You grew up in Atlanta, a major music city in the U.S. Now, Los Angeles has its groove, NYC has its vibe, Nashville has its thang. Does Atlanta have a certain flavor? If so, what did you take away from your time there?
NV: Yesss! Atlanta has a fun vibe. It is a very artsy and diverse city with a charming grit. It’s Hotlanta for sure!! It’s humid and hot in the summers but the city stays so alive even on the hottest of days there are always cool events happening all over the city. I am proud of my hometown!
TRR: I have to ask – you joined your local circus when you were younger? What did you do in the circus?
NV: This is going to be a long answer…
So I woke up one day and knew I just was not happy, I was not me. In that same day, I quit my job, I quit school and I quit my boyfriend. My spirit was to a point where a change was needed. My life as it was, was not lending to me being able to really pursue my dreams of being an artist.
I was in my last day at the nice loft I shared with my boyfriend at the time, doing a final load of laundry (I was seriously downgrading my digs and moving into a very cheap crapshoot apartment) when I realized as fate would have it, I was out of detergent. So I went down to the only neighbor I had had small exchanges within my time living there and went to ask to “borrow” a cuppa soap. He was a quirky fellow, always dressed very steam-punk/circus-y…our small exchanges usually consisted of “hello, how are you” and incorporated funny accents.
I peeked behind him as he agreed to help out with my soap saga and saw all these trapezes, mats, and open space. I asked him what that was all about and he explained he ran a local circus to which I confided I had always wanted to join the circus ever since I saw my first circus show at 11 years old. He asked me “well, why haven’t you?!” while gesturing with his arm into his space and I agreed to come to practice with them for hand to hand acro. It was in that moment I was forever changed.
I worked with him on getting stronger and more flexible (at this time, I don’t think I had ever even done a push up) and I had my first performance experience with them for a series of Valentine’s day shows. I was also asked to sing for these and this event REALLY changed my life. In rehearsals, I met my first songwriting partner with whom I learned so many fundamentals. We wrote a lot of folk stuff. I might pull a GAGA and release a different vibe project pulling from those pieces and those days.
I <3 the circus and all it taught me. Forever changed from all the circus performers I got to meet because of that experience too.
TRR: Best advice you’ve ever been given?
NV: It’s so cliché, but stop letting what people think get to you. It’s so damn true!!! The moment we go to that headspace of fear of judgment is the moment we stop being ourselves. Also, another one ya hear all the time…don’t give up!! There have been so many instances where things have been so difficult and for seconds I’ve considered throwing in the towel. When I think back to those moments of weakness or fear, I also see so many incredible moments or friendships I would have missed out on as well as getting to know myself again.
TRR: When you’re not making music, what do you do to recharge your creative self?
NV: I love to dance and move my body. If I am in a creative rut, I know it’s because I am not present enough with my vessel. Getting outside helps too, whether it’s just going on s walk around the block or a full nature excursion. Mother nature is our best healer.