By Keiana Smith-McDowell, DC Music Live
Remarkable Talent. Pipes of Gold. Shining Personality. Those are just a few ways to describe the east coast girl with a southern heart, and an even bigger love for music, Nita Chawla.
As one of six winners of the 2013 House Artists Grant, the 29-year-old budding songstress is touring D.C. and making music that she’s ready for the world to hear. DC Music Live got the chance to catch up with her at talk more about her win, her newfound emotional state, and the epic music she’s ready to offer the world.
Your bio describes you as an urban girl with a Southern sound and Eastern roots… tell us a little about what that means.
It means basically that I love the city, I love everything the city has to offer… being trendy and fast, but a part of me likes to think I’m still simple. I was actually born in Mississippi and a part of me still thinks I have this southern mentality. My family is Indian, which has hugely influenced my life. Growing up I listened to Indian music and ate the food so I’m kind of a blend of all those things.
Tell me a little about the House Artist Grant and how you became a part of that. What was it like to hear that you were one of six winners?
I heard about it from a friend in my band, and I applied and thought it might be cool. They narrowed it down to 20 people and told me on Twitter (laughs). It’s funny I’m so bad with Twitter and DM’s so I saw it like two or three weeks later (laughs). And when I saw that I was in the top six I was shocked and really excited.
It’s such a great program. They record your songs for you and I’ve recorded three new songs.
Although the days are long, it was like one week of exactly how I want to live my life… writing and recording music.
Now you’re touring with “The 9 Songwriters Series.” What is that like for you and do you think it’s helping to bolster your career?
Justin Trawick started it about two or three years ago and he finds nine singer songwriters and puts them together and we play three songs together at different venues. It’s fun because we get to collaborate and learn from each other. It’s more serious and helps us to build an audience as well as have people really listen. It’s different from a concert or like a party because people come to really listen and hear the music and what we are saying. Locally I’ve been playing at different places and it’s fun to meet new artists and learn different things from their styles. It’s definitely helped me connect with fans more and connect with singer songwriters in this area, for sure.
Let’s talk a little about your first project, the 2009 EP Fall Again. What was the inspiration behind the name and how has your sound changed since then.
The inspiration behind the songs on Fall Again… I had returned from France, when I came back I had a relationship there and it didn’t work out and a lot of the songs are about that. I had stopped writing for a while and the whole idea was not wanting to fall in love again and not wanting to fall into being so vulnerable and weak, just not wanting to fall into unrequited love.
Since then my songs have been a lot more soulful, everything I picked was more soulful. I think I’ve gone away from that pop and folk sound.
Who are some your musical influences?
Well it’s in two parts. My early ones are Tori Amos, Jewel, Fiona Apple, and Sheryl Crown. And my later or current are like Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani, and Lady Gaga. I’m really attracted to that funky cheeky sound she [Gaga] has.
How would you define your sound? Because you’ve been compared to some incredible artist.
I think I draw influences from Adele, but I don’t think I sound like her. She’s a powerhouse. I think I’m closer to Tori [Amos], my stuff is a little more upbeat than that. I think I sound more like Colbie Caillat and Sara Bareilles. They’ve got that soul but their voices are softer, I think you can compare my voice more to theirs.
What was the inspiration behind Temporary Device? I really like it, by the way.
I wrote that in college it was another one of those relationships and the person wasn’t giving me the time of day so it was like, “Pay attention to me or I’m going to explode!” I hear a lot of inspiration from Garbage… so it kind of strayed from my usual vibe.
My song writing before was either angry or sad, and now they’re happier and more feel good. I don’t want to be stuck in that genre where every song is about heartbreak and being sad. It’s really hard to stay there emotionally as an artist. I want to represent everything that I feel.
What can the world expect next from Nita Chawla?
The next album that I did with House is going to be different… I wouldn’t say epic but for me epic (laughs). The next album is something like a movie soundtrack. Dramatic and epic. So it’s a that and soulful singer-songwriter, there will be a video too and that’s coming probably around the fall.
You can find connect with Nita Chawla on Twitter at twitter.com/nitachawla. Facebook at facebook.com/nitachawlamusic and her listen to her music on her website http://www.nitachawla.com
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