After-dark folk voice Nadia Reid meets Matthew E White uptown, for album three
NADIA REID’S outstanding first two albums, 2015’s Listen To Formation, Look For The Signs and 2017’s Preservation, were both recorded in Sitting Room Studios in Christchurch, New Zealand, with producer Ben Edwards, regular guitarist Sam Taylor and a familiar team of collaborators. For her third, she travelled nearly 9,000 miles to Richmond, Virginia’s Spacebomb Studios, founded by cosmic soulman Matthew E White, who co-produced Reid’s latest with Trey Pollard. “It was really interesting to fly and meet strangers,” Reid says. “Challenging as well. I just hoped it was gonna work – all I could do was write the songs and get in the studio with the right people and let the magic happen. You can’t plan for that.” Having spent the previous six months back in New Zealand, she began work in early October at Montrose Recording, a converted garage in Richmond’s rural outskirts, before moving into the city to Spacebomb itself. “We did it in three weeks, which is kind of a luxurious amount of time for me – I’ve worked on much tighter timeframes,” she says. “A lot of it was tracked live, and the majority of vocal takes were done live in the room with the band. We did maybe three vocal overdubs.” She admits the Spacebomb way was at first daunting. “The players were from the Spacebomb family,” she says. “I was the only woman in the studio, and I’m musically illiterate, working with all-male, jazztrained, highly musically literate people. Trey had a way of making me feel heard and comfortable. He was a translator for my thoughts and feelings and I really trusted his vision. He did the string and horn arrangements, my favourite things about the record.” With Reid playing more electric guitar this time, she describes the sound of the album as, “a folk album, going back to just the guitar, the voice and the song, and letting that be the focus, not just putting heaps of stuff on there just because you could.” Thematically, she characterises the record as encompassing, “movement and travelling, and living as an artist, touring internationally, for two years, being a musician, and dealing with similar themes of growth, and relationships, human conditions, observations. The themes aren’t new, but they’re from another perspective, perhaps a little wiser.” She explains that 80 per cent of the songs were written in 2017, on tour in “Bristol, Manchester, Norway, Spain, Italy… Best Thing is the one I’m closest to. I wrote it when I moved back to Dunedin. I went on a walk around the streets that I grew up on. It’s nostalgic, sort of. I wrote two songs in that six months.” When MOJO spoke to her in issue 289, she quipped that greater personal contentment meant her label was concerned her next album might be “too happy”. Is it? “I think the answer to that is ‘No’,” says Reid, who plans to be UK-based in 2019. “I don’t think I’m ever going to get to that kind of contentment. I mean, I am content – I was talking to my friend, who is also a musician (who may or may not be Aldous Harding), and I was saying, I’ve made the record and I should feel really happy with myself, and I’ve been feeling this kind of uneasiness. And she said, ‘This is the thing. This is what you do, what I do, what we have to deal with for the rest of our lives.’ Which is OK, you know. It’s part of it.”
“It sounds kind of truthful and right.” NADIA REID FACT SHEET Title: TBC Date: Spring Production: Trey Pollard and Matthew E White Songs: All Of My Love / The Other Side Of The Wheel / Best Thing The Buzz: “My kind of sound is definitely still there. It’s not wildly different, it’s just more refined. It sounds kind of truthful and right. And it’s the next chapter.” Drop the Spacebomb: Nadia Reid does the vision thing, with Trey Pollard (left) and Matthew E White.