Bristol’s own Lady Nade shares her joy at being nominated for Best Song Of The Year at AMAUK Awards 2021 and explains why she is a patron of the Music Venue Trust
No one can argue that COVID has been very hard for working musicians in 2020. However, some people can take adversity more in their stride and still make a success of what has been a very challenging year. One such artist is Bristolian Lady Nade, who’s song ‘Ain’t One Thing’ has been nominated for Best Song Of The Year at The UK Americana Awards. Lady Nade is an independent artist who has managed to achieve her success by hard work and gaining experience playing in grassroots venues in and around Bristol. Grassroots venues have been such a key part of her career that she is also a new patron of the Music Venue Trust, a UK Registered Charity which acts to protect, secure and improve UK Grassroots Music Venues for the benefit of venues, communities and upcoming artists. Americana UK’s Martin Johnson caught up with Lady Nade in her Bristol home and discussed her eclectic musical influences, the support she has received from AMAUK and the vital role the Music Venue Trust plays.
How are you? I hope you and your family and friends are all OK and coping with the challenges of coronavirus?
I’m well thank you I have been very lucky and escaped the worst effects of COVID. I hope that won’t change going forward but you never know. The challenges have been big but haven’t held me back, me and my team have been finding new ways to reimagine what live music looks like. Online gigs have had their positives. Accessibility for a lot of people has improved because of live-streaming, ordinarily access to gigs for people who are differently-abled or single parents can be limited. One of the things I’m always challenging in my own city is accessibility for all to live music. As much as I would love to be out gigging again currently that can’t happen so we have to make the most of the situation until it’s safe.
Before we talk about anything else, tell me about the name. Where did that come from?
A friend from college said I crowned you Lady Nade and it stuck. She said I was having a conversation with you about Lady Day, Billie Holliday, and we were talking about jazz and I started calling you Lady Nady and then from that Lady Nade became my stage name.
As long as your friend doesn’t have a claim on your royalties.
HaHa, you never know it might have been a ploy.
What is the atmosphere like in Bristol following the summer demonstrations?
The Colston Hall changed its name to the Bristol Beacon which was alleviating for the Bristol community and it was nice to be part of that name change. It is good to see Bristol finally taking steps to take the sort of actions the community here in Bristol has been wanting for a long time. One of the positives that came about during lockdown was the Black Live Matter movement that was a connected worldwide force for good, Bristol being at the centre of that for a few days as the Edward Colston Statue was brought down. There have been campaigns for over 25yrs to take down the statue by many different groups, that it happened in this way may not have pleased everyone but it was a means to an end.
I was speaking to Sam Brookes a couple of months ago and I wonder what is it about Bristol that makes it such a music-friendly city?
It is a melting pot for good music here In Bristol and that is recognised internationally. It’s a varied music scene, live music venues and festivals and such a diverse mix of music and entertainment available is what makes the city so music-friendly and accessible. We have theatre, music venues, comedy nights, poetry nights, concert halls, folk clubs so there is something here for everybody which is what makes it so magical. If you want to go out and see something happening in Bristol the chances of you finding that something is very high. I was born in Bristol and have no intentions to move.
You have your nomination for AMAUK UK Song of the Year for ‘Ain’t One Thing’. What does that mean to you?
I was not expecting that at all. It was a massive surprise to me, what an honour to be recognised by The Americana Community who have welcomed me with such open arms since I got involved years ago being a backing singer for Yola.
How did you find out?
I was tuned into the live nomination show on YouTube, they were announcing the nominees because I had voted for a couple of friends of mine. I was really shocked and excited when Elles Bailey read my name out. It was so exciting to see loads of friends nominated including Austin Lucas, Emily Barker and Yola.
I interviewed Austin and Emily and they are both on a bit of a roll with their current releases.
Emily’s track ‘Where Have All The Sparrows Gone’ is such a great song, so catchy I can’t get it out of my head. I have her CD in my car. I was first introduced to AMAUK through Yola in 2016, she said I have a show coming up and invited me to be part of her gospel backing singers. She didn’t tell me anything else, we arrived in this massive hall, full of fancy tables and the security guards said Jools Holland and Van Morrison have just walked through the door. That’s when I realised what a big deal it was. From that night Yola was invited to perform on Jools Holland’s Radio show and we were then invited to be part of that as well. That night I got to meet lots of members of AMAUK and I got this really nice warmth from them and the americana scene, I signed up to be a member and since then I’ve been able to have my own showcase and take part in multiple songwriting workshops in Hackney and virtually.
What is ‘Ain’t One Thing’ about?
‘Ain’t One Thing’ is a declaration of love and self-love, a promise never to try and change a person or oneself, even if they stir up a heady cocktail of attributes and flaws, a tool for positive body image and mental health and well-being, to challenge how society presents and views the physical body and celebrate all bodies regardless of physical ability, size, gender, race, or appearance.
How did you record it?
With the producers of my ‘Safe Place’ Album Daniel Everett and Paul Issaac. Equipped with home studio setups to enable us to work in isolation. Over the last two years, we developed a seamless online recording process as a result of the geographical distance of each member. In essence, the team utilised the most recent on-line technology to create a high-spec studio across three locations. Block-chain-like document sharing technology (such as Google Drive) has allowed the team to work on songs, collaboratively from hundreds of miles apart to then come together and record.
You never know, it could be the UK song of the year.
True you never know but every single nominee is a great artist and you whoever wins I’ll be celebrating.
Who inspired you to get into music in the first place? Who do you really admire?
I grew up listening to my grandad’s rock’n’roll and americana records, it was like me and a CD player dancing around my room to his mixtapes. I listened to a wealth of various artists. Growing up I went from rock’n’roll americana to The Spice Girls and I think the early influence of listening to varied music then sent me on a journey. While all this stuff was happening I was writing poetry and began writing songs influenced by the music I was listening too.
When you write your own songs, what comes first: the words or the tune?
It happens in all ways, sometimes it can be the music, sometimes it can be the words. It is the words that really mean something to me. but I also listened to songs in different languages and sometimes I just connect with music. When I write my songs, the stories are mine but I want the lyrics to be accessible so that people can take them on their own journey.
Apart from making your own music, you have become a new patron of the Music Venue Trust. Do you want to explain what the organisation does and why you believe it is worth people’s support?
MVT raises the awareness of grassroots venues throughout the UK, During Covid-19 They have had to work extremely hard to keep Grassroots venues open and help them survive. People should really go to their website and find out they can support them through their actions like #saveourvenues. We need our live music venues to still be here when we come out of this. It was a huge honour to be asked to be a patron and join the fantastic rank of artists because I too want to do all I can to support the hard work MVT are doing.
For readers of AUK, what can the average music fan do to support MVT?
People can sign any petitions for any venues under threat, use their voices to communicate the importance of grassroots venues to try and influence the government’s funding, contact their MP if appropriate, regularly visit the MVT website and share any appropriate
What do you hope to be doing in 2021?
I hope 2021 brings all some sense of safety, I’m planning to be touring new material in May. I’m really excited about how it’s shaping up. The tour has a plan A and a Plan B depending on the situation of social distanced gigs in grassroots venues. I can’t wait to be back outperforming and connecting face to face with my fans again.
Will you be playing any festivals next year?
I really hope so. I’ve definitely got a date booked in, all we can do at this stage is wait and see. I was fortunate enough to perform socially distancing shows in the summer for example Magpie’s Nest in London by the Thames. And that was really nice and it was easier to have social distance outside because you had the space and the airflow and less of the worry of being in a confined space. I’m hoping that summer brings us those opportunities again.
One of the benefits of live streaming your concerts is that you can play to an international audience. Are you still UK centred or are you now beginning to think further afield as well?
During lockdown, I have had my music streamed internationally, and it’s been really exciting connecting with fans from further afield. In the past, I’ve had international success in Taiwan, Spain, and in fact, I was touring in France early in the year and when I returned we were suddenly in lockdown which meant that all stopped but I can’t wait to get back to Europe.
As an independent artist, how have you managed the financial impact of COVID?
I have an incredible fanbase that has supported me in so many ways, coming to my shows, buying tickets and merch have helped me I’ve also been fortunate to have success with funding support from PRS, Help Musicians UK which has been a godsend. In between the lockdowns I managed to do a couple of live shows, both finally and emotionally important. Fans continuing to buy physical albums of mine though my Bandcamp has been fundamental to my survival. Let’s not beat around the bush here, and I can’t thank them enough.
The nomination should help.
I still can’t get over that. I’m still in shock. I’m definitely going to be using the fact I’ve got a nomination moving forward, it means so much to have been recognised by the americana community.
What happens if you win?
I’m going to buy a pool house and enjoy a large cocktail whilst floating on a bright pink inflatable flamingo!!
At AUK, we like to share new music with our readers, so can you share who is currently on your top three playlist?
I am listening to Austin Lucas, Emily Barker and on a recent visit to Union Music Store in Lewes, I was introduced to Beverly Glenn-Copeland who is incredible.
Finally, do you want to say anything to our readers?
I’d like to say to everyone, can’t wait to see you in 2021be it online or in person. Stay safe and if you need a “Safe Place” come and listen to my music.
Good luck in January. Will you be nervous?
A little, I’ve been practising my “Virtual” red carpet pose.
The Music Venue Trust website can be found here.