Racking up streams in the actual millions, several coveted TV spots, and buzzy collabs aplenty. New Jersey-born and Los Angeles-based alt-pop singer-songwriter Nessa Barrett is firmly on the up and up, and her latest single, 'la di die (feat. jxdn)', looks set to push her into a whole new league.
Hi Nessa! How's it going, what are you up to today?
Hi! Things have been good. Today, I filmed a press video, drew in my sketchbook and had a rehearsal for an upcoming performance.
When did you first realise you wanted to be a musician, has it been a life-long ambition for you?
Music has always been in my family - I grew up with a studio in my house for as long as I can remember. My dad is a producer/rapper, my mom has always been into underground music, showing me upcoming artists. I've always wished to be a singer as well blowing out my candles for my birthday every year.
Leaving for LA at 17 was a super ballsy move, did you land on your feet quickly? How were those first few months?
It was! Luckily I had been travelling back and forth before I moved, so I already had a studio I recorded at, so I spent a lot of time there until I was fully settled in. The studio has always felt like home, no matter where it physically is.
How much work went into building up your early following with videos and such? What was the planning and creation process like?
As crazy as this sounds - not too much. My first video that went viral was just me and my friends goofing off at school. It all happened really naturally.
Was it the videos that landed you a record deal in the end?
A producer at the studio I was introduced to was actually the one who saw a cover of me singing on TikTok and brought me in to start working on music - he helped introduce me to some more people in the business that helped land a record deal.
'Pain' did tremendously well, especially as your debut track - did you know it was a special song when you were putting it together?
At the time, I was just singing everything I was feeling and laid it into the song. It was actually a 30 min song when I first wrote it. I do feel like all the emotions I was feeling is something that my audience could relate to, which is why it ended up being as special as it is.
Do you get a feeling for which songs are going to do well?
It depends! I definitely know when I made something really special, but sometimes the fans surprise me with how much they relate and feel a song.
How did you come to collaborate with jxdn and Travis Barker? What were they like to work with?
It happened really naturally, actually. jxdn and I were actually working out of the same studio, and one day we were just listening to songs in the studio - he mentioned the song was great and a feature would sound good on it. My team and I were actually already thinking about adding a feature, so it worked out! Travis is so humble and down-to-earth as well. I loved working with them, it was a super fun process overall.
Are there any other artists you'd really like to jump on a track with?
Not at the moment! But always looking forward to working with new artists.
What's your starting point with songs? Are you able to just sit down and write, or do you need to wait for inspiration?
It happens pretty randomly. Sometimes I start with lyrics, sometimes I start with melodies. I get inspiration from what I'm feeling, so if I'm feeling something in the moment, I write down in my notes and save it for when I go into the studio.
It feels like a really pertinent time to be singing about mental health issues, have you had a lot of good feedback from fans?
I feel like a lot of people are able to relate to my lyrics, and my goal is to make people feel like they are not alone - how I want to feel when I'm going through my darkest times.
What are you working on at the moment? Do you have lots on now everything's getting back to normal a bit?
I've been in the studio working on my debut project as we speak! I'm super excited about it and can't wait to share it with the world.
Taken from the July issue of Upset.
Featuring AFI, DE'WAYNE, Beartooth, Pom Pom Squad and more.