Naz & Ella – life, art, walkmans & friendship

Being apolitical in life & art isn’t an option – being silent is being complicit

💖 How did you guys meet?

Ella – We actually met at school about 10 years ago!

We were put together in English class, & Naz was looking to start a band. She knew I played guitar so asked me if I wanted to join it. & the rest is history!

💖 What inspires you to play music?

Ella – I’ve always wanted to play music, right from when I was a kid.

I’ve always been inspired by artists I like. I remember listening to songs on my walkman & imagining that was me playing them!

But today, we go to a lot of gigs & so seeing upcoming artists & bands really inspires us to push ourselves & make our music the best it can be.

Naz – I second what Ella said – that’s very much my experience, too.

I’ve been rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer recently, & I was telling Ella how when I used to watch it as a kid I used to wish I was in one of the bands performing at the Bronze (the club in the show) haha!

Listening to & seeing other artists perform really inspires me to play music.

💖 What’s your writing process?

Generally, we come up with song & music ideas separately.

We then share these over band practice, or send over a basic phone recording of the idea. Then we get together & learn it, share ideas, & develop it from there.

Somewhere down the line we usually get some input from Paul, who records & co-produces our music.

💖 Who are your main influences in music/life?

Naz – I feel like my influences have changed over the years!

Currently, I’m influenced by bands like The Cranberries, Nirvana, Audioslave, She Keeps Bees & Metric.

Ella & I were going to a lot more gigs before the lockdown & seeing smaller bands like Berries & The Baby Seals perform has also influenced my music recently.

In terms of life, that’s anyone who challenges me to be a better human.

Ella – I’m in love with Marika Hackman’s music at the moment so I am really inspired by her.

Also, First Aid Kit, The Cranberries, The Pierces, Skunk Anansie, Laura Marling, & Amy Winehouse. & other DIY bands in the scene such as Dream Nails & Berries!  

💖 Tell us about your aesthetic

This is a tough question.

I don’t think we have a cohesive aesthetic. We’ve discussed having a “look” or “aesthetic” as some  other artists on the DIY scene seem to do this really well, but nothing’s really stuck as we’re both so different!

We’re still working on this, but it would be interesting to know what other people think our aesthetic is!

💖 When you’re not doing band stuff what do you get up to?

Naz – I run a zine called WEIRDO which is a platform for other alternative South Asian people.

I’m also really into makeup, so I spend a lot of time playing with makeup, which is really therapeutic. Ella usually – willingly – plays the role of Instagram girlfriend lol.

Apart from that, before the lockdown, I was going to pole dance classes which I’ve been doing on & off for about five years.

Ella – I enjoy Muay Thai boxing & I’m currently learning design at the moment so I’ve been doing lots of drawing & reading around that.

& of course, going to gigs (or streaming them at the moment) & checking out new artists! 

💖 What does feminism mean to you? / What 1 thing could everyone be doing to make the scene a better place?

Naz – To me, feminism means equality for all & the one thing everyone should be doing to make the feminist scene (& society as a whole) better is making sure their feminism is intersectional.

Ella – I think some people take feminism & twist it to appeal to only one type of individual. Feminism should be inclusive to all, men included. Many men think feminism works against them, not realising it actually benefits them.

💖 I know that you guys try to focus yourselves around political issues as opposed to the usual ‘I met a fuckboy/girl/person & it sucks a bit’ kind of deal.

What is it that led you to decide on this & why do you think other musicians shy away from engaging in the political arena lyrically?

Naz – I can’t remember how this happened.

When we first started performing together, a lot of the songs I was writing were these love songs all about a girl, although I was writing some songs that were more political, too.

I think as we both became more politically engaged, this happened naturally & we made it our “thing” by writing it in our bios.

For me, being apolitical in life & art isn’t an option – being silent is being complicit & even though I’m always learning, I feel a responsibility to speak up when necessary. 

I’m not comfortable speaking on other people’s experiences, so some of the new material I’m working on at the moment that’s more political focuses on my personal experiences, which I think other people might be able to relate to.

In terms of other musicians shying away from this, I think it’s scary to sing on political issues with conviction. You’ve got to have a level of confidence to do it & not worry about potential backlash from people who don’t have the same views as you.

I’m always terrified when it comes to singing some of our songs. For example, one of our songs is about Brexit & we’d be naive to think that everyone who’s seen us perform agrees that Brexit is bollocks even though that’s not what we’re explicitly saying.

Ella – I think there is always space for writing about personal stuff, but it’s just generally not something I’ve been drawn to doing.

I like to tell stories in my music, or write about what pisses me off in the world.

I think people shy away from it perhaps because they are afraid of what people might think or say, or because they just find it easier to write about their own experiences! 

being apolitical in life & art isn’t an option – being silent is being complicit

💖 What are the most important issues that you guys write about? & how has that changed since the pandemic?

Ella – Generally, we haven’t sat down & said “Oh I want to write a topic on X”, it does usually happen organically.

Often what I write is in response to an article I’ve read or a documentary I’ve watched which provoked some sort of reaction in me that makes me want to explore it further.

💖 I met you guys at first timers so I’m presuming you’re pretty new to the scene.

In spite of this! You’ve already been heavily involved with the BBC which is incredible! What can you tell us about that journey & how did it come about?

Ella – Well we are new & we aren’t. We’ve been performing together for years, but more seriously for around four years, & only really discovered the DIY music scene in London the last couple of years.

We released our debut single ‘Love Is Love’ back in 2016, & it was picked up instantly by BBC 6 Music & BBC 3 Counties Radio which was amazing! I think people are really drawn to the message & overall feel of the song.

💖 Tell us about your last release/ what’s the feeling to it/what’s it about?

Ella – We released our single ‘Freedom’ at the start of April.

It was written in response to a story I saw trending on Twitter at the time about a young woman from Saudi Arabia who was trying to escape & seek asylum in Australia.

She had an abusive family & was living under the oppressive guardianship system.

Thankfully, due partially to the flurry of support on Twitter, she was granted asylum in Canada where she now lives today.

I was inspired by the desperation & bravery of her experience. We actually created a podcast where we discussed this further here.

💖 What’s next for you guys?

A new follow-up EP with a refreshed sound!

It will be slightly grungier & darker, but remain folky. Think a combination of Marika Hackman, Laura Marling, & The Cranberries.

You can listen to our current music on our website: www.nazandella.com/music 

💖 Dates for any upcoming livestreams? 

We’ve no gigs coming up unfortunately due to the current situation, but we may well do something online, so keep an eye on our facebook.

We are posting covers that we record remotely & posting those on our Soundcloud, which you can find below.

💖 Where can we find you on social?

www.facebook.com/nazandellamusic

www.instagram.com/nazandella

www.soundcloud.com/naz-ellamusic

www.twitter.com/nazandellamusic

www.youtube.com/nazandella 

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