Photo Credit: Alba Yruela
If recent times have proved anything, it’s that you should never disregard a young person and what they’re capable of doing. Nuria Graham didn’t even know what life had planned for her when she was 16 and started making music that people twice her age wouldn’t be able to produce. Now she’s 21 and showcasing even more pristine abilities than before on her upcoming album, Does It Ring A Bell. Out March 30, we talked about Does It Ring A Bell, Joni Mitchell, commands and more.
Kendra: Processed pop is usually what happens when a 16-year-old drops an album. When you did, it was with style, grace, and maturity. What inspired you to elevate your sound so much so that it didn’t reflect something expected of a teen?
Nuria Graham: The funny thing is that when I started making music (and even now) I had nothing specific that inspired me but everything inspired me at the same time. I had no referents, and never thought I wanted to do this for a living. Now it seems so natural to me. I was into jazz, into soul, discovered John Martyn, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Kurt Vile, Karen Dalton, Caetano Veloso, all kinds of different and new music when I started making music as a living. It was a very big explosion in my head!
Kendra: Although you started out strong, did you notice any growth within yourself from a musical standpoint when it came to recording your upcoming release, Does It Ring a Bell?
Nuria Graham: Yes, as the years have passed I have gotten to know myself a bit more. My music’s completely connected to my personal life, so I think that it’s all about searching and trying to understand myself. That’s why I will never stop learning and searching.
Kendra: The new album starts with “It’s time to grow up, girl!” Is that more a demand to others or to yourself?
Nuria Graham: More than a demand to anyone, it’s more like a sarcastic comment to myself, after being so obsessed about age and about expectations and always being surrounded by older people. It’s also because I am very connected to the past, I feel like when I make songs it’s like a conversation between me from the past, the present, and the future me.
Kendra: When you find yourself penning songs like “Smile on the Grass” where are you typically, physically? Do you write whenever the idea comes or do you like to head off somewhere and have sessions?
Nuria Graham: I really don’t know how it happens. I had all these melodies inside my head since I was a kid. They just appear in unexpected moments. I remember well when the melody of “Smile a Grass” appeared into my head (because I have the sensation that I do not only create a melody, I think that it appears too, somehow). It was a summer day and I had to use my phone voice recorder to record the melody. I made the song in a few minutes when I had the guitar in my hands. By that time I was listening to Kate Bush a lot.
Kendra: You’re touring a lot between now and this summer. You have this very chill demeanor. Was there any performer that inspired how you take the stage?
Nuria Graham: Not really, but lately I’ve been very obsessed with Joni Mitchell. She has this unexplainable magic on stage. This presence. It’s natural and it’s magic. This is what I like about my favourite performers and writers. That when you see or hear or read them, you can know that it’s their nature, to be up on a stage performing or making sons. And Joni is one of them.
Kendra: Other than the new album and all that touring, is there anything else we can look forward to from you in the coming months?
Nuria Graham: I am already making new music. I don’t think I am going to be able to wait a lot to record. With that, we might have so new stuff recorded pretty soon. The thing I am really looking forward to now is playing a lot and doing as many gigs as possible with my band.