The Open Honesty Behind Tabitha Nauser’s new EP

It’s been four years since I photographed Tabitha for my first beauty book, and… she looks different. In four years, a person’s style will inevitably change — and very much so for a celebrity — but it’s what has caused this change that is intriguing. It’s clear that Tabby didn’t change her look “to be different”, but because she herself has changed; you could say she’s grown up and is more sure of herself and what she wants. This is a different Tabitha Nauser from the girl I recall from four years ago… and I like this new version of her — a little more cynical, a lot more worldly, and someone who’s past all the bulls*t of this hyped industry (she tells me that she hardly attends events now, and would rather stay in and record music).

“things i should have said” is Tabitha’s independently-released 3-track mini EP, and is an emotional rollercoaster of her thoughts and reflections of the past year. The synopsis was enough to get me to invite Tabitha down to the NYLON office to talk about the songs, and to get more sense of where she’s now at with her music.

 

Tabitha Nauser: “This EP has been the result of many, many, many years of trying to get this out. I feel like it’s gone through at least four or five different variations, until we finally landed on this one. And I feel like, is a matter of right time, right place to do it. I was like, let’s scramble and get everything together and put it out by the end of the year. I think for me, it’s always been, ‘I want to put as much music out as I can’, and you know, just the way things have gone in the past couple of years, I would’ve loved to put out more music back then, but I feel like now, y’know, I can decide fully, like 100% however I want to do it, and how to put out my music. So it was very, very important for me to be able to put this out this year, and I’m so glad that like, literally, by like, a nail, we’re putting it out right before 2019 ends. So I’m super excited for it.

It’s called ‘things i should have said’, so it’s basically sort of like a reflection of what I’ve been through in the past year. I think the past year has been very reflective for me; I have gone through quite a huge number of changes this year, and so it really was just for me to take a step back, and really observe everything and go, ‘Okay, what are my priorities? How do I feel? What is important to me? And what do I wanna do about it?’ And so this EP really is just a representation of all of that, which sounds very heavy, but I can assure you there are songs in there that are catchy as hell [laughs], and it’s not gonna make you think, ‘Oh my god, this is so depressing’, ‘cuz it’s not. It’s really just, I feel like, the most raw and honest that I’ve been in a while.”

ON SONGWRITING:
“I wrote all the songs, but I also worked with some amazing, super talented songwriters and producers. I worked with Jai Waetford, who’s an amazing singer. I worked with Kota Banks, who’s also, just, y’know they’re all like, young and extremely talented, and when you all get into a room and just bounce ideas off of each other, it just really… it turns into something I think is beautiful. So it’s just a lot of fun. And I also got to work with August Rigo, who I have just adored for the longest time, and he’s worked with Kehlani, he’s worked with Justin Bieber, and his voice, his own voice is amazing. But yeah, he’s a great songwriter, and it was just nice to get into a room with people that are THAT talented and fun to work with.

So it happened overseas. I got to work with some people in Australia, and then obviously some people in Singapore as well, like local guys. So I worked with a dude called Shake n Bake, he was a producer for one of the tracks, and he was also helping me to master all of the tracks. So it was just nice to be able to have a mixture of people from different backgrounds to kind of pull from and work with. So that was fun.”

HER FEELINGS ON THE EP:
“It’s very emotional. One of my favourite songs in the EP is called ‘Hurricane’. It’s the second track on the EP, and it is, I think the most bare, out of all of the songs. It is acoustic guitar-driven, and then just voice, and I feel like that song especially was the hardest for me to put out, because I actually wrote that song like… I wanna say about a year ago, a year and a half ago… but I was sitting on it for the longest time because I didn’t want to show it to anybody. And I didn’t wanna talk about it, because if I showed it to someone, they would ask me 5,000 questions, and at the time, I wasn’t ready to answer it. So I didn’t show anybody. So I kinda just like, left it, and didn’t touch it for the longest time. And then I stumbled upon it again a couple months back, and I was like, ‘Actually, this song, like… I feel like I’m in a better position now that I can talk about it’, and it is a beautiful song, because it is very open and honest. So I was like, ‘Let’s just put it out’.”

ABOUT HURRICANE:
“Let me give you a synopsis of what the song is about, because then maybe it’ll be like, easier to understand. So it’s basically about a relationship that has not been going well for a while, and so you’re just singing about… in the song, I’m talking about, y’know like, we keep going through the motions, but it’s not really going anywhere, so is it really wrong if we decide to stop? It’s like a question and answer-type situation, as to like, what if it ends? Is it really wrong if it ends? That’s sort of what the song is about. So yeah, it took me a while to be comfortable enough to be able to have other people listen to it, but it really is one of my favourite songs in there, on the album.

I feel like a lot of people have never heard this kinda thing before, I’ve put out songs that are a bit more like, in-your-face, pop, R&B tracks, but this one’s a little bit more chill. It sounds almost like a demo, but that’s sort of the vibe that I was going for, because I was so in love with the demo version of it where it was just my voice and the guitar. So I was like, ‘What can I do so that when people hear it, they feel the same way I felt when I listened to the demo?’, do you know what I mean?

It took one session to write it… so like, maybe two hours or something like that? Two, three hours? But a year-and-a-half or so to put it together. Which is weird because people always ask like, ‘Oh, what does it take to write a song?’, and I’m like, ‘It’s always different’. ‘Bulletproof’ was something that was like, took what, maybe a total of three sessions for it to be complete. This [Hurricane] is an example of something that took frickin’ forever. So it’s always different, there’s no set way to write, or set way to make music.”

ABOVE: EP COVER, COURTESY NAUSER pte ltd

 

CURRENT MUSIC STYLE:
“I feel like my style has always been very R&B-driven, but in terms of the first stuff that I’ve put out, it was definitely a lot more… what is the word… it was pop, but there was also an underlying theme of like, fierce. And I feel like with this EP, it’s a bit more… I’m super laid-back this time round. I feel like just, for me — I was talking to someone else about this as well the other day — it was not so much about the music production, it was more of the lyric and message production this time round. So I didn’t really fuss about the theatrics of the song, but more of, ‘What am I trying to say in the song?’ I feel like that in itself already makes a huge difference, so the sound is definitely gonna be different this time round. So that in itself is a huge change and evolution right? Whether or not I go back to, y’know, a bit more like dance- y, poppy type stuff, who knows? I might. But at the moment, I feel like this is sort of where I’m happy in, and where I’m comfortable, in this space. So I kinda wanna explore this a little bit more and see what I can come up with.”

ON PUBLISHING INDEPENDENTLY:
I am actually not under Sony anymore. So the Sony team and I have been super close for the longest time. We’ve been together for three years. But I think it was just a case of, I very much wanted to do this and to be able to put all of this out. So for me, I wanted to have the chance to be able to do that. And for Sony, I think they had a different vision. So it’s not like we fell out or anything like that, it was very mutual. They understood where I was coming from, I completely get where they’re coming from, and so we just agreed to be like, ‘Okay, cool. You go do your own thing for a little bit, and then we’ll see where this goes in the future.’ So now I’m independent [laughs], I’m doing everything by myself, I’m publishing by myself, and it’s crazy because it feels like a completely new experience. It feels almost like I can reinvent and give myself a rebirth, almost, in that sense. It’s just… I feel like I’m learning new things all over again, and it’s very exciting.”

ON RELEASING NEW MUSIC:
“There are three tracks on the EP. I am not gonna make the same mistake I did for the past three years and tell people that there’s gonna be an EP [laughs], I’m gonna stop doing that. But I will say that yes, definitely, there’s going to be new music for sure. We already have stuff in the pipeline. But I haven’t decided if they’re gonna be single releases or if it’s going to be another body of work. That’s yet to be decided, but yes, there will be new music next year. See, I’ve learnt! Now I’m older and I’m wiser, and more mature, and I know how to answer questions [laughs]. Instead of getting super excited and being like, ‘Yes! There’s an EP coming out!’ Oh my gosh, the number of interviews that I’ve looked back on, and I’ve been like, ‘Yeah yeah yeah, I’m so excited about this EP’… I look very different. It’s so weird.”

OTHER PLANS:

“I feel like at the moment, I don’t have any plans outside of music. For me, it’s always been, what can I do, surrounding music that I’m able to explore. But I have, as most people know, dabbled in a lot of things in the past. So I’m open to trying anything new. Acting, recently, is something that I’ve been thinking about, so I don’t know. Maybe I might, at some point, try my hand at a crime show. I don’t know if that’s gonna be something that will materialise, but I wanna be the murderer in a crime show that no one expects. That would be cool. Or a detective. That would be even cooler. But yeah, I haven’t really thought much about it. I do wanna be able to start something of my own. So I do have a company, now, called Nauser Private Limited, and I do want to be able to explore growing that business, whether it be like, starting a marketing agency, or a clothing line, or just creating something. That would be dope, to be able to do it. I haven’t put it into action yet. I wanna make sure I firm up my ideas first.”

FINAL THOUGHTS:
“Follow me on everywhere! Instagram, twitter [laughs]! I hope everybody enjoys the album. It’s been a long process for me, to be able to put it out, so I’m really just excited that I can. And it would mean a lot if you like it, to share it.”

Follow Tabitha Nauser on Instagram @tabithanauser.

Listen to the album on Spotify, Apple Music and Deezer now.

Photography by Adele Chan, Photographed using the Leica M10-P + Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH lens.
Makeup by GINGER LYNETTE using NARS COSMETICS.
Hair by JAMES CHIUN from PRO TRIM HAIR STUDIO.
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