Scottish pop singer Nina Nesbitt has been quarantined with her producing equipment for months on end. While she’s been working on her third album, releasing new collaborations and generally trying to remain sane, she’s also been taking advantage of her time to have fun with some of her old songs and to help others and herself get through each day.
Nesbitt released her second studio album, “The Sun Will Come Up, the Seasons Will Change” in February 2019 and its deluxe version, “The Sun Will Come Up, the Seasons Will Change & the Flowers Will Fall” in November of the same year, both as an independent artist. So, when stay-at-home orders were put into place in March, Nesbitt was prepared to continue creating in her home. “I’m taking this time as an opportunity to get better at it again and push myself further,” she wrote on Instagram in reference to her producing. “I always say we need more female producers.”
Quarantine began like it did for many others all over the world. Nesbitt watched television, played the Sims and cut her own fringe. She also worked on her third studio album.
But even while doing all of these things, Nesbitt still found herself searching for a way to create and escape. After posting a few videos of unreleased lyrics and melodies, Nesbitt turned to her latest album. She began recording herself singing popular tracks from “The Sun Will Come Up, the Seasons Will Change” on Instagram, but instead of instruments, she used “sample packs” themed around a song’s main message or focus.
Her first remix was of “Loyal To Me,” a song about non-committal partners, featuring her “f—boy sample pack”: a voice memo of someone asking, “hey, you up?” along with her boyfriend’s spray deodorant, sneaker and wallet to replace drums and other instrumental additions. The video has been viewed almost 100,000 times and has over 700 comments, leading to the start of an informal series on Nesbitt’s Instagram.
The album’s second single, “The Best You Had,” followed, featuring her “angry ex sample pack,” complete with a clicking mouse for online stalking, scissors for cutting up old clothes, keys and a lighter. From the beginning, Nesbitt has shown her talent for not only transforming everyday objects into instruments, but for captivating her audience and providing entertainment for herself as well.
Whether it be her “Nina in nature” sample pack to remake “Colder” in a park, or using only herself to accompany the self-love lyrics of “Somebody Special,” Nesbitt’s videos also help provide a connection from her music to her as the artist. It’s clear these songs were written for and by her in her home rendition of the album’s title track about life changes as Nesbitt shows what self-care is for her: books, candles, water and sheet masks, among other things. But these lockdown versions of her second album’s top tracks are only the beginning for Nesbitt.
After a short break from her home creations, Nesbitt released “Long Run” with Deacon, Reese Witherspoon’s 16-year-old son and musician, for his debut in July. One week later, her collaboration with Swedish production duo NOTD, “Cry Dancing,” was released. The single has been followed up by a live and studio acoustic version and a set of remixes, while Nesbitt followed “Long Run” with her own rendition in her home kitchen. The video was posted on her Instagram and features her singing on her kitchen counter accompanied by the sounds of her making a pasta dish.
Nesbitt’s ability to take collaborative work and give her audience another way to connect with and consume it has been especially apparent during quarantine, a talent she’s now using with personal projects that she creates specifically for her social media audience.
Nesbitt’s Instagram videos are fun. Her personality and humor shine through effortlessly as she burps into her microphone or hooks a finger to pop her cheek for samples. But working with songs she’s already written limits her slightly instead of allowing her to express how she’s feeling in the present. Her most recent originals are a far cry from her versions of “The Sun Will Come Up, the Seasons Will Change,” favoring a more conversational tone and personal messages.
A cover of Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown” with barking dogs sampled. A song chronicling a day in her life at home watching television in a Taylor Swift sweater. A mashup of classic 2000s hits ranging from “Jenny from the Block” to “No Scrubs.” A fur-coat clad, wine-glass-in-hand pep talk to remind viewers they’re a “bad bitch, don’t you forget it,” when they can’t hear it from a random girl in a club bathroom. A snappy jingle about how “it’s a good day to stop giving a f—.” A piano-accompanied story of ordering McDonald’s.
Nesbitt’s random creations might be her best. In the comments under her “it’s a good day to…” video, Nesbitt remarked, “have written too many songs for my album so have now reverted to writing inappropriate jingles about self-confidence.” No matter how “inappropriate” Nesbitt believes her creations to be, the posts are resonating with her followers. What started out as a way to pass the time has become something that not only makes her “days go faster,” but something that helps fans smile and feel less isolated during quarantine.
As Nesbitt moves forward with her career and her upcoming studio album, fans can hopefully look forward to the high level of creativity she exhibits on her Instagram, but maybe with lyrics closer to her normal studio work this time.
While there’s no timeline on the album, Nesbitt has mentioned that she’s still in the writing process and eager to return to the studio. Until then, her Instagram home creations will hopefully continue to give her followers and Nesbitt herself a break from reality. But when she’s back in the studio and ready to release her third album, let’s hope she keeps some of the energy from her jingles and other mixes — just maybe with a few more real instruments.