Highly regarded, well respected, deeply admired and remarkably gifted is GRAMMY nominated, IDMA awarded vocalist and songwriter Nadia Ali. A mere mention of her name turns heads. One note of her voice is a memorable moment. She epitomizes the successful artist; one who has a vision and achieves on her own terms. A once-in-a-generation vocalist, Ali has consistently been setting the standard in her genre, electronic dance music, since the release of her smash hit 'RAPTURE' in 2001; a superstar by any definition. Ali is currently supporting her new singles "Must Be The Love" (Arty, Nadia Ali & BT) ["Must Be The Love" Music Video view here] and "Carry Me" (Morgan Page featuring Nadia Ali) ["Carry Me" listen here]
I recently had the honor and privilege of chatting with Nadia Ali in person shortly before she took the stage at her Palladium at the Castle Chicago tour-stop Friday, October 18th, 2013. [Read 'Nadia Ali exquisitely magical at Palladium at the Castle Chicago'-Review here]
William Kelly Milionis: Welcome to Chicago.
Nadia Ali: Thank you so much for having me. I love Chicago. It's one of my favorite cities, hands down.
Kelly: I know everybody goes nuts when you're in town. You were at Wavefront Music Festival during the summer.
Nadia: It's so crazy. Yes, yes, that was one of my favorite shows this summer. Actually, this year probably. Chicago is just a great crowd. People are as cool as New York but they are not as stuffy as New York.
Kelly: You are that once-in-a-generation vocalist. You set the standard with your vocals and your songwriting. Is it instinctive, does it come naturally, or do you have to work at it?
Nadia: Thank you. I think I've always wanted to be different from everybody else. I get really annoyed when I do something and everybody else does it too, or if I'm doing something that everybody else is doing. I was doing dance music long before it was the hot thing to do. Not to say, oh, yea, I was doing it and it's my genre, no, but to me, I feel the reason why I deliver the music I deliver is because I lived that life in a nightclub and I danced until the wee hours of the morning and I knew what it felt like to be a young teenager and to be obsessed with the music. And so, when I write a song, I'm just thinking about what I want to hear when I'm in the club. That's why it comes out a little bit different. A lot of the artists right now are writing pop songs and they're just putting a dance beat to it. But, that's not how I write a song.
Kelly: That leads to my next question, would you look at continuing your writing but getting into a situation similar to DJ/Remixer/Producer Avicii's "Wake Me Up" crossing over into Pop or into Country or any of those genres?
Nadia: I love music in general. It's like girls and their clothes and shoes; when you love shoes, you love shoes. So, for me, I think it's a really dangerous thing to say I'm going to write the best dance song in the world. When I first wrote 'Rapture', it wasn't meant to be a huge dance song, it was just supposed to be a dance song. It wasn't meant to be what it became and that you can never predict. You can never predict what people are going to relate to. You can have a song with the biggest DJ in the world, and it's ok. But then, you could have a song with a totally new producer, who is seventeen years old and nobody's heard of him, but you do an amazing track and people connect to it and it doesn't matter. So there's no formula. I think when people get into formulas, that's when they disappoint themselves.
Kelly: Do you play any musical instruments; especially when you write?
Nadia: I only play my musical instrument that's internal, these vocal cords. I write my songs many times to chord progressions on a piano. Unfortunately, I can't keep playing the piano, so I just record it into the software. Nowadays, you can do so much. But to me, my vocal instrument, did I just say vocal instrument? My instrument, my musical instrument; are my vocals.
Kelly: Would you look at expanding and adding some acoustic instruments to your live set?
Nadia: Absolutely, of course. I mean, I love classic rock. I love Stevie Nicks. I love the Doors. I love Zeppelin. I love the Eagles. I love, my goodness, Carole King. I love all of these artists that were just singing to a guitar and a piano. A majority of them wrote their songs to a piano or guitar. And, they're one of my biggest influences. The songwriting is, to me, unparalleled.
Kelly: As the preeminent vocalist in the electronic dance music genre, all of the DJ/Producers I've talked to and/or interviewed have agreed hands down, when it comes to Nadia Ali, they want to work with you. Even those artists who might be doing something very different are still very interested in experimenting. You've set the bar so high and your vocals are so phenomenal.
Nadia: Thank you. Who paid you to say that [laughing].
Kelly: You've worked with two-time GRAMMY nominated Producer/DJ Morgan Page. I interviewed him recently and asked whether he would ever consider the possibility of running a live interactive hologram of you when he expands upon his 3D concert experience in the future.
Nadia: He's like, why would I have to do that when I can just get her to come.
Kelly: Exactly, but the thought of you being in two places at the same time.
Nadia: That would be so convenient. If I could go shopping right now [laughing] and not have to be in this nightclub right now [more laughing]. Oh my god...I'm just joking!
Kelly: What would you do to expand your live show?
Nadia: What I am working on right now is some really cool visuals and honestly better songs, more songs. It comes down to the music.
Kelly: There have been a few female vocalists that have set the standard over the years, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey, and Ofra Haza. You are carrying on that legacy.
Nadia: I'm not worthy of that compliment, but thank you.
Kelly: When you are on stage, you really don't need anything but your voice.
Nadia: I think that's what it comes down to. I mean, all the frills are nice. But what I think is the best thing about performing, at least for me selfishly, is to see the human beings that have connected to my music. Just seeing people recite the lyrics back to me, just gives me chills. I can never get used to that; I can't. I'm up there performing for them, but they're performing for me...that's the connection.