Miss Leading is a singer, poet, electronic music producer and the founder of Wellington network, Eastern Sound Collective. She recently released her debut album Minor Thing that features Girl is Gone, a call out for female empowerment. We caught up with Nadia a.k.a Miss Leading to talk her new single Self Help, getting creative and dream collaborations. 

Tell us about your new single, Self Help?

Self Help is a bit of a friendly jab at society opinions that tend to blame individuals for things that are out of their own control, e.g. assuming those who are in poverty don’t work hard enough. I also wanted to convey how overwhelming the pressure of self-improvement can be and to take a stand against the wellness industry that profit off people’s insecurities and really only end up making us feel more stressed and burnt out rather than helping. That’s why the second half of the chorus says ‘Just breathe, why can’t you breathe’, cause that’s what pressure can do, cause us to forget something as simple as breathing. 

You’ve also recently released your debut album, Minor Thing – can you share a highlight from working on the production of that?

It was my first time going through the full process of creation, to recording, mixing (getting the sounds within the track to balance and adding different effects) and mastering (which ensures the music is balanced correctly to sound consistent across songs and different music players). It was fun to see the tracks change at each step as different people provided their ideas and input and to finish with something even better than initially thought. 

Where do you draw inspiration from and is there somewhere you like to get creative?

My songwriting is often a reaction to the things around me. I don’t think I will ever escape writing socially conscious lyrics. It is the core of who I am and why I have spent my life working for social inequalities and environmental organisations. The creative process always seems to happen late at night, fooling around or after I hear a song and notice something really cool and different about the way they presented it and experiment with a method similar. In the end, the final product is always very different from the original song I heard. 

For instance, my song Woke, the words were a reaction to the public’s response to the Black Lives Matter movement. And the beat itself I drew inspiration from a song called Shmelly by Kojaque. This is a completely different track – Kojaque is a rapper, the subject of Shmelly is totally different, but the beat was this sinister sound that kept building and building rather than following the usual verse, chorus structure. I liked the tension that this style created. 

You’re currently doing some shows, what’s your favourite part about performing live and is there a piece in particular you love to play?

I perform both music and spoken word live. Performing is my chance to share something I have made with people and really know they have heard it. Instead of just releasing it online, I get to see people’s reactions, talk about the song and share a moment between myself and the audience. It’s a special exchange. 

Do you have any dream creative collaborations?

MIA. She has broken down multiple barriers for young Asian women in music and it’s incredible how her style has never conformed to what mainstream music would expect of a successful pop artist, and in watching her documentary I gained a new respect for the message of her lyrics. Also, Young Fathers, a group based in Scotland make amazing genre-bending music that just pops. I’d love to be able to learn about how they make their sound that is their music and work on something with them. 

I know the world is still a little crazy right now but what do you hope is on the horizon for the next 12 months?

I’ve finally managed to set myself up to work part-time in my other profession and part-time as a musician and writer. I am hoping this will bring me more time to learn new ways of making music, new styles and maybe even set up a band. Should New Zealand be able to open its borders, I’d really like to tour the album internationally. 

You can keep up with Miss Leading online and you can stream her album and new single Self Help now.