Nadia Ali’s distinctive sultry nasal-pitched vocals can be heard on tracks produced by the best and most revered in dance music, likes Armin van Buuren, BT and Arty to name just a few.
Her debut single ‘Rapture’ catapulted to number 2 on the UK charts. A subsequent track ‘Fantasy’ earned her a Grammy-nomination and two International Dance Music Awards. Together with club anthems like ‘Is It Love?’ and the Alesso remixed ‘Pressure’ turning dance floors into seas of hysteria, Nadia is now a force to be reckoned with.
We caught with the affable singer before her ‘live’ performance at Zouk and discussed her upcoming album, ‘Phoenix’, her safety net in trance and progressive house genres, and why it’s a double-edged sword to be a female singer in dance music.
When you and producer Markus Moser formed iiO in 2001, you weren’t even planning to dabble in dance music; and then ‘Rapture’ happened.
I was working with my producer on more hip-hop driven beats, and asked him to try a dance song for fun. It turned out to be a huge hit. I was beyond surprised; it opened my eyes to an entirely new direction.
Fast-forward 2012: A Grammy-nomination last year and two wins at the International Dance Music Awards this year.
I’m still completely honoured to have received these awards. I don’t create music with the intention of winning awards of any kind. It always starts from the heart.
You’ve worked with some the biggest trance and progressive producers in the world. Are you more comfortable in that genre?
What’s interesting is that the majority of the songs I write don’t start off as dance songs. They’re not built around trance or progressive house tempos at all. They typically start with a simple acoustic guitar or piano backing my melodies and end up developing into these club anthems. It is always fun looking back and seeing the transformations of my tracks.
I read that your dream collaboration would be with Bono from U2.
Oh boy! Don’t know if I can answer that one. All I can say is that collaboration would be epic!
I’m pretty sure listeners get goose bumps when they hear you sing. Does that happen to you when you’re on stage or in the studio?
You’re too sweet! Absolutely, that happens quite often. When the goose bumps hit in the studio, I know I’m on to something really great. On stage, I always get goose bumps when I hear my fans singing my words louder than me! It’s so amazing.
Do you prefer a particular environment to write your songs?
In general, I’m most in my creative zone when I’m writing in my own studio. It’s my wonderland.
You’ve frequently pointed out that the dance music industry is a double-edged sword for you—as a rare female vocalist you are well received but also deemed an unnecessary competitor for DJs.
Just to elaborate on your question, the EDM world is male- and DJ-dominated industry. In all honestly, it’s just the reality of it. I just have to get up every morning and feed my passion for the music. I can’t be too concerned with the many egos in the industry. That’s just too distracting.
It has been 11 years since you started. Where is Nadia Ali heading to and what’s in store for the dance community?
Well, as you know I’m currently working on my upcoming album titled ‘Phoenix’ which will entail some really great, high-energy dance tracks with some amazing producers.
I also just moved to Los Angeles, after being in New York for over 25 years. I’m feeling so inspired in my new city and I’m just really excited to continue writing and recording new music. My fans will have lots to look forward to in 2013.