Last year was good to NAO, whose brilliant “wonky funk,” presented in two critically acclaimed EPs, earned her fans on both sides of the Atlantic. But on the heels of her debut album For All We Know, 2016 looks set to be the year when her mix of R&B, soul, and electronic textures seduces a wider audience.
"My friends and I have been making beats and songs for a while now; sometimes we can get bogged down in the detail of how to make the music interesting,” says the singer-songwriter, born and bred in East London. “Mostly it doesn't matter; music should touch you, that's all it should do."
It was NAO’s future manager who first saw her perform at someone else’s gig, and asked her if she’d considered doing solo shows. She had, but had been quite content working as a session singer, having graduated from the Guildhall School of Music a few years earlier. The question was timely though. “The more I thought about it, the more I thought, Actually, yeah, why not?” NAO says.
On For All We Know, NAO avoids the usual moping about of much of today’s alt-R&B. “I wonder if most people, when they’re writing, fall on the darker side because it’s easier to write,” she muses. She’s more interested in “being a bit more conscious: writing songs that do explore a lighter mood, or a sentiment other than the dark. I hope to have a good balance of it all.”
NAO's album was released on her own label, Little Tokyo, which she initially created in order to retain the rights to her masters. But she has big ambitions for the imprint, hoping one day to be able to sign other artists, set up a regular Little Tokyo night, and develop her own merch: “In a dream world, I’d do lots with it.”
Hear from NAO in her own words:
My sound in five words or less: Soulful, Funk, RnB, Wonky, Electronic
What inspires your art: Not wanting to do anything but sing from the moment I wake to the moment I sleep.
Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat: Twitter
Favorite emoji: — album artwork colours
Watch her video on REVOLT TV the week of September 26th, and let us know your thoughts by tweeting @RevoltTV and using the hashtag #SpotlightOnREVOLT