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article imageNina Lee talks about 'Lift Up' single, digital age, Amy Winehouse Special

By Markos Papadatos     Jun 26, 2020 in Music
Rising artist Nina Lee chatted with Digital Journal's Markos Papadatos about her inspirational single "Lift Up," and being a singer-songwriter in the digital age.
On her new song "Lift Up," she said, "To be perfectly honest, not exactly how I wanted it to come about. I had just come back from the vet where my family and I had to put down our beloved dog. Sandy was a “person in a dog suit”, who was my best friend since I was seven years old."
"I sat down on my bed and I was just sad. People were losing loved ones, left and right and no one knew what to do. We were confused, panicked and like everyone, hunkering in and staying home. It was just me and my piano, and I did what I know how to do, I wrote. It actually would be very funny to hear the original lyrics to the song, and then compare them to the lyrics now," she said.
The lyrics to "Lift Up" shifted constantly throughout quarantine as additional issues continued to pummel our society. "The song that started out angry, unfiltered, and really raw, with profanity, became more polished and positive," she said.
Lee continued, "Even though the angle that I approached the song from evolved as time went on, and different pressing topics and issues were brought to the forefront of the media the message was always clear. “Lift Up “is a song for everyone, regardless of age, race, gender, sexuality, socioeconomic status, religious, and political beliefs. No matter who you are, we all need to be lifted up sometimes."
On her music and songwriting inspirations, she said, "Experiences, memories and moments in time. Not just my personal experiences, but experiences that might have an impact on communities, groups, and other aspects of our society that I am able to internalize to create a piece of work that affects someone, and speaks to them."
"To be able to put into words what I feel as well as what others feel is what inspires me to create," Lee said. "When I look back at my catalog of songs, I can tell you exactly when and where each song was written. It brings me back to a moment in time, and it sticks with me."
"Even little things, moments, instances can have an impact on me. If I feel inspired by someone or something, I won’t be coming out of my room for the next 2 hours and I will have 50 new voice memos taking up storage on my phone," she added.
Regarding her plans for 2020 and beyond, she said, "This has been a really surreal time to be living in the world. Although there are things in life I can’t control, I can control the fact that I will always have music in my life, and I will always strive to find a platform for that music that can create change. My friend gave me advice that has stuck with me, 'just keep running until someone tries to stop you.' That's been my motto for planning in 2020. I'm excited to continue my music education this fall at NYU’s Clive Davis Institute at the Tisch School of the Arts, hopefully, live rather than virtually."
"I'm looking forward to continuing writing and recording as much music as possible," Lee said. "And of course, being able to get up on a stage in front of an audience to perform live again. Being on stage is my favorite and most comfortable place to be, and I worry about the effect of the pandemic on independent artists like me, because it is every musician’s lifeline."
On being an artist in the digital age, she said, "I know that from my appearance I look like a 20-year-old girl who understands living in a technological world, but that is just not the case. I was definitely born in the wrong century when it comes to everything digital. I love the accessibility that the internet provides artists to put out content, and the reach that social media platforms have, but with that said, that constant need to live up to unrealistic standards just becomes unhealthy."
"I released my new song 'Lift Up' at a virtual online event, hosted by the group, www.nolabels.org," she said. "There were hundreds of people on the call, including the U.S. Senate Chaplain and several U.S. Congressmen and Senators. Of course the virtual event can’t be compared to a live, staged event with my band and an audience, which is what I live for; however, it's great that we have digital opportunities to stay connected and provide a musical pipeline when 'live' isn't available. I can't wait for actual live events to start again though."
For young and aspiring musicians, she said, "Play your music, and do so while surrounding yourself with solid people. There is nothing more important than that. Regardless of the hurdles any musician will face, having those people that always have your back 100 percent is the most crucial thing, especially in this industry. People that believed in you from day one—those are the people worth keeping around. Find mentors who can direct you to the right professional contacts, and then take huge risks because nothing is impossible."
She listed the late Amy Winehouse and Billy Joel as her dream collaboration choices in music. "If she were alive today, Amy Winehouse hands down. I would love to just observe her as she made musical magic. Living today, my dream person to collaborate with would be Billy Joel. He's a storyteller, and I’ve always felt a connection to his music. To do a song with him would be a real, 'you did it kid' moment," she said.
Lee offered the following inspiring words to her listeners during this pandemic: "Do things that make you happy. Try to appreciate the good things even if they are hard to see. Spend time with the people that you love, and realize how lucky you are to have them. Aside from music, I have been helping my mom and sister bake, and when I say that I mean they have been baking a lot during quarantine and I have been happy to help them eat it. In all seriousness, don’t stop because it’s hard, and it’s not what you imagined. The gratification of achieving something feels so much better if you know that you really had to get your hands dirty."
She concluded about "Lift Up," "You should go listen to it. It's a song from the heart, it's my small contribution in the hopes that people will come together and help promote the change that is needed today. I'm honored that www.nolabels.org is using the song to support its 'Lift Us Up' initiative—to put pressure on elected officials. To work together as problem-solvers rather than fight each other as enemies, because we have a lot of problems that need solving right now. Show someone that you understand that they are not alone. That's what it’s all about. Loving with no labels, because you know that you would want someone to do the same for you when you need it."
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