Since its global takeover a couple of years ago, TikTok has become the music industry buzzword, with talent blossoming and blooming from all corners of the platform. However, few truly nail the transition from ‘TikTok singer’ to mainstream starlet. But Nieve Ella is one of them.
After garnering a mammoth cult following on the app, the West-Midlands indie pop riser dropped her debut single ‘Girlfriend’ in mid-2022, a 90’s tinted guitar pop cut which grabbed the attention of many. Since then, Nieve has released a slew of tracks, delivering her own signature brand and raw talent of vulnerable and authentic song writing and infectious hooks. Now, these singles have culminated in her debut EP, ‘Young & Naïve’, a concise collection of the tracks she’s released over the past few months, plus brand-new cut ‘19 In A Week’.
After some brief trial-and-error on the cursed Zoom, Nieve and I were linked up to talk all things Nieve Ella.
‘Young & Naïve’ is just around the corner – how does it feel to have the last six months for you all in one little package?
It’s so surreal. Every time I talk about it, it kinda feels like a big joke. I’ve never done anything like this before. I don’t understand how I’ve got this opportunity, to say all this stuff, I’ve never been able to do that before.
So, you’re feeling good about it!
Yes. Very, very good. I’m excited.
When did you realise that your music went beyond TikTok?
I don’t even feel like I realise it now. I still feel I’m this TikTok person, posting videos. I remember sending demos of the tracks to my friends and them being like ‘Woah Nieve, you can actually make music? You don’t just do covers?’ And then it was like oh wait – I can actually do this. That’s probably what it was. All I wanted was my friends to like it. If they like it, that’s all that matters.
Do they like the EP then, now it’s finished?
Yeah, yeah, yeah! It’s weird, all of the demos I sent was the EP, but I didn’t know it was going to become ‘Young & Naïve’. It wasn’t for an EP; I wasn’t signed or anything like that at the time of the demos.
It sounds quite organic then, the way the songs came about.
Really organic. I’m so glad it happened the way it did. Saying ‘Oh you need to write an EP now’ is so much pressure. Like, if you’re just writing songs, people like them and someone wants to put them in a collection, brilliant! That’s perfect, that’s all I ever want.
What’s your favourite track off of it?
The new one I’m releasing with it, ‘19 In A Week’. The track feels like a collection of all the songs, all the lyrics are to do with every song that’s on the EP. I don’t know what it is, but it just feels so special to me, my little baby (laughs). It’s the first track on it too, the first thing you’re gonna hear.
You seem excited!
I can’t bloody wait.
‘Glasshouses’, the most recent single, is very personal, very raw. What was the writing process like for this one, and how did it feel putting it out into the world, something so close to you?
I feel like I’ve had the song for about two years now. I wrote it in a way that wasn’t for anyone or anything, it was for me. A grieving thing. I have no one else to talk to about the way I feel, so I’m just going to write a message (for my dad), that little feeling you have of maybe he’s gonna hear it, and I wrote it for that reason. I didn’t think anyone would actually be interested in it, but my friends and the people I work with were like ‘This is so special’, and that’s all that I wanted. It’s so separate to anything I’ve ever wrote before. It’s like someone ripped out my heart and slapped it on a piece of paper. Sounds really cliché, but it genuinely does feel like that. It’s just me, on a song.
It should be visceral, y’know what I mean.
I think so. It was weird releasing it. I wanted to tell people what it was about, it’s really raw. Having to explain it was weird but kinda felt like a closure point. Now it’s not just me on my bedroom floor hoping it’ll help me, now other people that have gone through what I’ve gone through, its theirs. People have messaged me saying how special it is to them, and for people to say that…yeah. So surreal.
It is surreal; I remember seeing your videos on TikTok like…end of 2021? And then seeing what’s come after, it’s very full circle!
Yeah. For me, I’m just Nieve. I’m not trying to take over the world with my music, I’m releasing these songs like anyone else would. It’s a release, mentally, and everything else with it. It’s just mad. I’m so, so grateful I get to do this.
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind for you! You played your first live shows in 2022, with a band, how was that? What was the transition from internet to stage like?
It’s really mad. I moved to Brighton briefly in July 2022 and was friends with Matt (drums) and Finn (guitarist), and then met Fran (bass) through the people I lived with. Fran’s boyfriend was a promoter at Green Door, it was his first gig he was putting on and he asked us if we wanted to support. Didn’t even think it [playing live] was gonna be this thing I was doing. It was one of the best experiences of my entire life. All of my friends came down, and it just kinda clicked when we were on stage. The band are all my best friends, so I’m just with my best friends having fun on stage! I’d never done it before either.
As someone who is a serial songwriter, are you already working on your next release?
Yeah mate. I’m not stopping. I’ll be releasing for the next ten years, every two months. Just you watch (laughs).
Did you grow up playing music?
No. I only started playing guitar like three years ago – yeah, it’ll be three years in March. I wrote my first song then as well, fully. When I was little I was always doing drama or singing High School Musical. I’ve signed up for Britain’s Got Talent twice in my life.
Fuck it, do it again. Promo for the EP.
Hmm. Maybe not (laughs)! I’ve always sang, but it’s one of them difficult things where I’m from a tiny village, a place called Albrighton.
Obviously, you did – or do – a lot of covers. If you could collaborate with any artist who would it be! Sorry, hard question.
Actually, it’s not.
Can I guess?
Yeah. BUT, I have two. Phoebe Bridgers, obviously. She’s too cool for me, though. I would not be able to write a song with her, I just wouldn’t, I’d want her to write all of it. The dynamics wouldn’t work. Maybe in another life. The main geezer though, is Sam Fender. He’s literally the reason I do this. September 2021, I went to his show in Birmingham, without a ticket! I tried the door and they said there were none, but a guy came up to me wanting to sell his ticket for twenty pounds. I was like yes please! Got into the gig, and I was like I want his songs. The production of ‘Girlfriend’ and ‘Fall 4 U’ were inspired by Sam Fender; if I didn’t go to that gig, those songs would not exist.
So, you’re kicking off the year with your new EP, ‘Young & Naïve’. What next? What’s the rest of the year gonna hold?
Um, that’s a good question! I don’t actually know. I feel like most of it I manifest! I don’t wanna stop, I don’t know what that’s gonna be, whether it’s releasing music or playing live. I want to explore a new era of music, getting the chance to release you might as well just do what the bloody hell you want (laughs). There’s a lot more I wanna do with recording and making songs, I wanna properly get into a room with my band, write songs together, record stuff live. I just wanna find this whole new sound. There’s so much more I want to let out, I just haven’t figured it out yet.
Words: James Mellen