NADINE is a London-based christian singer-songwriter with a distinctive, ethereal voice and songs that reflect her Christian faith. In anticipation for our live music event on the 20th July, we caught up with her to chat about her music, songwriting and how her relationship with God informs those things:
What inspired you to start song writing?
I grew up watching my Mum sing in a band. When I was 7 she bought a keyboard and I just loved the feeling of experimenting with it while singing and making up stories. (One of my first songs was accompanied by one doubled note. Genius.)
What I love about your songs is that you can clearly hear how your faith has influenced the song writing process but they are still very accessible to everyone. How would you say God inspires your song writing?
I love how C.S Lewis says: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” My faith in God shapes my life and the way I think about things and therefore if my music is truly authentic it can’t help but reflect that. I also don’t think it’s just an intellectual thing, I feel that I deeply connect with God and also myself when I write. This has been the case since I started and I hope I won’t ever lose that.
Are there any challenges of being a Christian musician?
Being a Christian in itself is a challenge no matter what you do because it can clash with the zeitgeist (which is just the German word for ‘spirit of the times’) because it trusts in a spirit above and beyond time and realities that won’t always go in line with individualistic preferences, not even (or especially not) those of the believer. It’s hard, it’s costly, it might mean I won’t fit in or won’t be understood, I might not be as cool, my priorities won’t be the same, my drive will ultimately not be for my career as my ultimate goal. But what’s so beautiful about knowing God is that when I prioritise him, he fills everything else with meaning and I know I come alive in that.
One of the songs you’ve written that is more obviously connected to your faith is ‘Rise’. What’s the story of that song?
There’s a mystery behind this song that many people might never truly understand. I can’t really describe it verbally, I’m just hoping more people will search for it and find it. It’s about me having a bit of a revelation of what I am actually created for and it freaked me out so much I just wanted to un-know everything while at the same time it felt too good to be true. This song is really about having gotten to a place where I’m too far in to go back but the hardest decisions are still in front of me.
In some way the song is about the discomfort and excitement of being invited on an adventure which will change the course of your whole life.
The music video to ‘Rise’ is very atmospheric. Where was that shot? What’s the story behind that?
It’s shot at St.John’s church where I’ve done several gigs in the past. The vicar Graham is one of the most practically supportive people of all things creative I have ever met. I knew I wanted to make an epic music video for Rise (hair in slow motion and all) but I also knew I didn’t have the money needed for the ideal Wonder-woman-magic. One morning I just had the idea ‘trampoline in a church’ pop into my head. I thought it was a ridiculous idea but thought I could always email Graham: “Hello, random question: Do you happen to own a trampoline?” He immediately replied: “Yes I do. Let’s talk.” So we ended up putting his trampoline into the church and together with film maker Gareth Kay managed to create some sweet atmosphere with it. It was so much fun especially as I love connecting my music with sacred spaces. I think it reflects my own relationship with songwriting, it grows from this sacred place within, if that doesn’t sound too pretentious. That’s why I loved launching my music at St.Pancras Old Church and St Mary’s Church London.
St Marys Church you say? They recently released an EP with a worship track that you feature on! Tell me about that.
Yes I co-wrote two of the songs and I’m singing on one of them which is called I Will Praise Your Name (written with friend and DJ Shula Swift, produced by Joey Walker) which is based on Psalm 145. This song feels so nurturing and kind. Whenever I sing it or listen to it I feel God’s motherly love. I especially love the sound of the last chorus, which makes me so happy I want to cry.
Do you enjoy writing worship music? Is there a difference in the writing process when your writing 'worship’ music as opposed to your other music?
That’s an interesting question because I’m currently working on more worship songs than my usual singer-songwriter songs. I also regularly co-write Swiss-German worship songs for my church back home. There’s such a beauty in writing a song which then continues to have its own life in a community. It connects people to each other and to God and gives hope and I don’t even have to be there for it to happen. Most people won’t even know I was involved. It’s a humbling and freeing experience. But writing music for church is also quite challenging as it comes with a lot of responsibility. The message of the song will immediately have a lot of weight in people’s minds when sung in church. Songs can preach more effectively than the teachings as they usually have great emotional impact, they are easily memorable and are often repeated many times. This is why I love that I get to do lots of co-writing with Swiss theologian Joel Gerber. I’ve learned a lot from him already.
We are really excited that you are coming to Oxford to perform your music. Have you done a gig in oxford before?
Thank you so much, I can’t wait to come and sing in Oxford! I’ve wanted to come and play there before but this is the first time it’s actually happening.
What can we expect from your set list?
Well, it’s not all set in stone yet but there might be a certain guest coming to sing a duet with me. If you’d like me to play a cover, feel free to send suggestions via Instagram (@nadine_music) and I’ll see what I can do! ;-)
What’s your favourite song to perform live and why?
At the moment it’s my brand new song Bloom because it’s confident, a little sassy, joyful and deeply meaningful to me. I won’t go into that now as it’ll probably be the size of a novel.
To get tickets to our 'Live @ Modern Art Oxford' event on 20th July click here.
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