Pop Punk is making a comeback, but this time, in a fantastically, whimsical and multi-cultural way. In comes Nxdia (pronounced "Nadia"). The Egyptian-Sudanese artist has been simultaneously putting out cutting edge music all while changing the landscape of the artists in the music industry game. They are paving the way for a niche in this creative space for queer, Middle-Eastern musicians in the US market and other industries.
Needless to say, it was an absolute pleasure to interview Nxdia. I was fan-girling for sure, and the best part of our conversation was the fact that I felt so connected with them and that I made a new friend.
Born and raised in Cairo, and now living in Manchester, UK, the artist has been diligently working on performing more after releasing her most recent EP "in the flesh". The project is a well-rounded array of 6 tracks that revolve around the concept of being too self-critical. At times, it's about falling into your old habits and ways, but then angrily recognizing them and in other moments, it's about taking control of the situation by questioning yourself and giving yourself grace.
I had heard about this young artist about a year ago from my best friend who had introduced me to Nxdia's song "OUCH!" then. I had the song on repeat for a while because not only had I been on an emotional rollercoaster of life and in need of the uplifting and energizing sounds of pop punk melodies in my life, but I was also enamored by the fact that Nxdia introduced a Middle-Eastern twist to a sound that has been more or less primarily dominated by English-speaking countries. The records are elevated and clean while at the same time feeling unfinished to leave breathing room for the fan to interpret and experience in their own way.
Nxdia's music is reminiscent of one our mutual favorite artists, Dominic Fike, which when I mentioned to them that their music remind me of the artist, they were beaming with joy. Their music is honest, youthful, realistic, conversational and experimental, pushing the walls down of what is expected of such young players in the game. Nxdia's music is much like when you’re driving by yourself at night and in the four corners of your mind creeps in the inner-monologue of doubts and dreams...and as you experience more and more of their music, you're coping with the mind games and decoding your emotions. With looping melodies intertwined with deep, heavy hitting, bubbly beats, you find yourself in daydreams of foggy memories. As you experience their projects, you find each track melting into the next encapsulating various genres and falling somewhere in between a sonic concoction that pulls of familiar energizing sounds.
Be sure to stream the new project here and watch the video for "what's it like?" below:
Here's our Interview:
[Neelu] N: It's amazing to meet another person representing Arabic speaking countries in pop punk music, especially as a Middle Eastern myself. I'm very excited that there are people like yourself entering this industry and really forming a path for other artists. So thank you for doing that.
[Nxdia] Nx: No, thank you. That's such a kind thing to say. I appreciate that so much!
N: You just dropped your EP. And I'd love to hear more about the story behind it, from your perspective. What encouraged you to write something like this and how you want your fans to experience this?
Nx: You know, I will say, as much as I've been speaking Arabic and English around my house, and in Egypt when I was there as well, for years and stuff, I'm still quite new to writing in English and Arabic and feeling comfortable singing in that way. Because it's so silly, but a few few years ago, I remember suggesting some Arabic words for a song I was working on with someone, and they were like, "Why would you do that?" And I was like, "Ah, you're right, that's so stupid, I would never bring this up again." I was so stressed. So to think that [I can] sit down and work on a project now and know that as many aspects of myself as possible are in that feels really good. Especially someone commented on one of my things, and they were like, "you know, what I love about the Arabic bits is that's how you can tell you're queer", because obviously Arabic is a very, like gendered language, and I was just like, that's actually really cool, because I guess so many queer Arabs, and I'm so lucky to meet a lot of like queer people from the Middle East, who, whether they're out or not, feel safer knowing that at least there's someone there. There's someone who is at least representing and trying to normalize it a little bit more.
And for the EP, I'm a people pleaser, and I can't really call people out in the moment. And sometimes you ever walk away from a conversation and you're like, "Damn, I should not have let that slide. Actually, that's absolutely an unacceptable thing that you said."? Okay, then either you send the paragraph or you're like "it's not that deep. I'm gonna move on." So instead of all that, I go to the studio and I like, Okay, this is this is how I feel truly feel. It's so cathartic.
N: Who were some of your earliest musical influences that really inspired you when you were younger?
Nx: Um, it's so weird when I was younger, I was super into French music, which is so sad because I wish I would have picked that up as well. That was sick. Tri-lingual. Why not? I love Stromae loves for me. I thought he was amazing. And there was someone else called, like, Ines or something. And then John Bellion was a huge one, mainly because he used to do these videos.
*insert us gushing over Jon Bellion together for a moment*
He's brilliant. So he had these "making of" videos that I was so obsessed because he has some kind of ADHD I'm assuming like, and because my brain works and sort of similar way I was just like, oh my god, this person speaking gibberish and making something really cool. Like this is insane. So I loved your belly and he was such a huge inspiration for me for so many years and I've seen him live the most out of anyone else because I just I'm obsessed with them and Pink. Oh, My Chemical Romance Fall Out Boy I was an emo, still am.
N: So, when did you get started in music? What really is an early memory of working in music?
Nx: I mean, in terms of actually working on music, it was a bit later on, like there was what's it called? So I came to England when I was like eight and a half, and I remember there was a local place in Manchester for the arts, and I'd go every week for African drumming. Can I do anything with that? No, no, I cannot. Other people are very talented and they can do stuff like that. Not me. But it just opened up doors there because then I was going to little clubs that they had, and people who I didn't really talk to in high school because I was a bit of an annoying, extroverted loser would talk to me and we would make music there. I kind of was figuring myself out that way. Then in a non-teaching capacity. My mom would, she's amazing, she said she put me on tables when I was a kid because I had so much energy and she'd be like, "okay, then perform." It wasn't anything interesting--what kind of three, four or five year old show is gonna be even vaguely fascinating? And I used to make little tickets and force my parents to listen to me.
My brother, so he's in chemistry my mom works in welfare, and my dad was a business man-- they don't even listen to that much music. For some reason I think I just liked noise more than I like music. But then I also love music because music is a lot of noise. I don't know if that makes. When you write in a song it just feels like you're figuring something out rather than coming up with something new. I don't know how to explain it... but it's nice to connect with people one on one...in reality, if you've done something and you've shared it with people you admire or care about or trust, and it works out, brilliant! You always have [those] amazing people to celebrate it with.
N: So, English and Arabic writing is kind of still something you are getting used to being able to intertwine the two worlds, do you feel that it's becoming more of a space in the industry? And do you feel like it's becoming more natural for you to voice that now that people are telling you you're making a space for them?
Nx: Yeah, actually, I think there's some other really amazing artists, obviously, like my friend, Luca. She's incredible. And so many more, there's Nadine El Roubi as well--she's amazing. She raps and sings and all this stuff. But I think it's one of those things, like where I saw it first was how I was super into French music. And then K-Pop and all that stuff. And I think watching it go from "Okay, French is cool. Okay, yeah, we can listen to Spanish music. Okay, K-Pop is really cool." It's like a whole new thing. Then recently, hearing people talk about Arabic music in a positive way is so nice because it's only been in the past three years, four years. Before then it was like, "here's my impression of what Arabic sounds and it's the most despicable thing. Like the most aggressive sounding, horrible amalgamation of stereotypes. So when people are like, "Oh, I'm learning Arabic because of your music", I'm like that's so cool!
We've got to celebrate [this]--I think nothing brings people together like music or sports -- it's when you kind of feel like a unit--the first time you went to a concert and you saw someone onstage and everyone around you is screaming the lyrics it's not just you in your room listening to your thing. Even though everyone around me is thinking of different things, experiencing different things, and has a different relationship with this music, we're all [still] here right now.
N: If you had to pick a song that if someone were to meet you for the first time, what song would you introduce them to?
Nx: Oh, damn. Okay, it has to be something that's a bit in the middle of the vibes. Maybe "what's it like?"
N: If you could go on tour with anyone, who would you want to tour with?
Nx: Dominic Fike.
N: Ok, I literally wrote in my notes, who does Nxdia remind me of, Dominic Fike. *I proceed to show Nxdia my notes page on my phone*
Nx: YOU DIDN'T SAY THAT?! WAIT WAIT.
N: Yes! I did, and I also said Deb Never.
Nx: Don't do this to me. I love Deb Never. That is so cool. Oh my God, you've given me far too much credit. I'm seeing Dominic Fike, he's coming to Manchester. I was panicking because of the criminal record, Oh my God, he's never going to be able to come because of the criminal record. But they finessed it. Brilliant. I can't wait! Are you like a fan of his?
N: Oh, a huge fan.
Nx: My god, don't even get me, like I need to take a breath. Genuinely, you have to realize, I'm gay, and I'm so enamored by this man. Like I'm so obsessed with them. And I just feel like it's insane he's been the top artists for four years on Spotify, but the issue is like he's had about five songs out, which means I'm insane. Like there's something wrong with me because why am I listening to this non-stop? So funny.
N: He's got something to his sound. It reminds me of your music because you guys both kind of bring this melancholy meaning behind your songs, right? But there's this light-heartedness. There's a bounce to the music, and I feel like that kind of overshadows feeling sad. Right? So I feel like both of you do that very well.
Nx: You've made my week.
N: What is, what I like to call your detour? What's something that you do that's outside of music and maybe people don't know about you?
Nx: Oh, you know, I do talk about journaling a lot, but I'm always scrapbooking as well. Me and my friend also know how to knit. And I'm trying to learn how to crochet but I'm really bad at it. And she's like, getting really good at knitting. Some embarrassing, because we started around the same time. Also collecting Fugglers. I have 28. I got my first one in June. I've sent. I've sent Fugglers voice notes. I sent them messages...And you know what? They've been so sweet as to respond like they've responded to me even sent a voicemail back. I was like, oh my god, legends. I've never in my life, so viciously been after a brand's attention, a brand's approval. I donated a Fuggler to my friend's tooth gem place so that she could put gems on the teeth of the Fuggler and she did it, and it's sick.
I also started climbing recently. Have you ever done bouldering?
N: Yes! I have. So much fun.
Nx: I've gone for a few weeks now, and I've bumped into so many people and already met so many lovely people...[and] I've seen so many people with six packs, and I'm planning to join that community motivation. Have washboard abs, just you wait and see, wait.
N: So what's on the horizon for you? What are you excited about?
Nx: Pretty much like taking as much as possible and making more music. I think there's yesterday I played, I've got a local like arena near me called like the Old Trafford cricket ground. And we got invited to do the halftime show for the second year, which was really good. 100 Yeah, with 100 of BBC introducing, like, 19,000 people, I was just like, I was on the floor. I was actually like, this is the most insane experience ever. And I was talking about I was like, How can I do don't want to do this 24/7 Like to my band, and they were like, I know, dude, I know. Yeah, to dig as much as possible, I just want to get really, really good live. Because this year, since COVID, I've maybe done about 1516 gigs, which is still quite a bit for me, especially without a tour or anything like that. But yeah, I just want to, I want to connect the community as much as possible, meet as many people as possible and just make as much music as possible music as just something. people that's like, I feel like sometimes unfortunately with the like, super. I don't know when everything feels super corporate sometimes in certain spaces and it feels as though people are watching. Not to consume and to enjoy, but to analyze and sometimes criticize, which obviously might not be the case. But yeah, I love it when it just feels like people are just there to
Yeah, mainly the UK it's been mainly London and Manchester sometimes like Cheshire and different Liverpool as well but like mainly UK but it'd be so good to travel because in 2019 I did see a festival in Hungary and that was insane. Oh, I was like a kid and it was a competition and I was like oh my god is the best day of my life. But it was so good to travel for sure I want
N: Is there anything that you'd want to share to your fans like before I get to close this up and everything like that anything that you want to say like anything you want them to know.
Nx: Please listen. Stay happy and hydrated. Breathe, you're good. You're good because yourself and others. Thank Paramore. I found Haylee Williams.
Thank you Nxdia for your time and your amazing music. Excited to see where they go from here! Only up! Follow them on Instagram now.