We had a chat with emerging Baltimore singer-songwriter nina gala following her two stunning debut releases
Baltimore-based singer, songwriter and guitarist nina gala has emerged in 2022, singling herself out as a special talent thanks to her tender vocals and effortlessly ethereal sounds. Her lauded debut release ‘we looked like angels’ earlier in the year has been followed up by the gorgeous and delicate ‘perfect, precious’, with both tracks showcasing an artist with a real deftness for crafting moving, emotional pieces of work.
The latter has this really inescapable sense of bittersweet sadness, as the artist softly looks back at a past relationship as she is forced to endure the crushing experience of watching them move on with somebody else. There is a really sense of maturity and poignancy to nina gala’s work that feels almost otherworldly at times, transcendent in the beauty that she carves out of these painful moments. We had a chat with the emerging artist to find out some more about her.
Who TF is nina gala?
nina gala is a Baltimore-based songwriter, singer and guitarist. She creates intensely intimate songs that draw attention to the richness of our inner worlds, and the preciousness of our feelings, experiences and dreams.
How long have you been making music?
About eight years ago, I bought an acoustic guitar, and once I knew a couple of chords, I immediately started writing songs. I wasn’t really interested in learning covers or becoming familiar with any of the technical aspects of the instrument. I really just wanted to create something that was my own, in my own way. After I had a few songs written, I started playing solo shows and released two strippped down eps, “gala.” (2017) and “renaissance” (2020). Now, I am preparing to release my debut album, swan heart.
Storytelling remains at the heart of this record. However, with support from emerging Baltimore-based producer Erik Schwarzenberg, who co-produced the album and was the principal engineer, I was able to expand my sonic universe to include bass, percussion, and string arrangements. I feel these embellishments really help this album stand out as my most sophisticated work yet.
Why do you make music?
Growing up, I did a lot of writing. When I was really young, probably around eleven years old, I started writing poems and posting them on the internet. Documenting my experiences, translating my feelings and sharing those pieces freely was something that came very natural to me. I think the work I do now is an extension of that same desire to share my inner world.
What are your biggest influences?
When I first started writing songs, I had recently discovered Angel Olsen. I watched a video of her playing “Some Things Cosmic,” solo, in a record store on YouTube. I thought, here is this special being, standing in front of a huge shelf of DVDs, creating this incredible, otherworldly experience with just her voice and a guitar. At the same time, I had just moved to Baltimore, and I was seeing a lot of extremely touching solo shows in person as well. Performances I saw at the time by Cara Beth Satalino (Outer Spaces) and Johanna Warren both stand out in my memory as being particularly magnificent.
At the time, I knew I could write songs well, and I knew I could sing, but the idea of putting together a band or recording a full scale album seemed too intimidating. Inspired by Angel and the other solo artists I was seeing around Baltimore, I felt comfortable focusing on one thing- creating and performing simple, moving songs. To this day, my work is still heavily inspired by that ethos.
What would you say has been your best moment so far?
During the process of making my debut album, swan heart, there were so many sweet, touching and dream affirming moments. The first time I listened back to the recording of my song “perfect, precious” and heard the live string arrangements, I was so overwhelmed with gratitude. The idea of having strings on the album always felt special- a luxurious, timeless element that at first, seemed out of reach. With help from my dear friend, mentor and collaborator, Jon Birkholz, who beautifully composed the arrangements and engineered the tracks, we were able to make that dream a reality.
What else do you have planned for the near future?
My debut album, swan heart premieres this fall. I plan on taking some time to really honor that work with a slow and intentional release, and, after a bit of a hiatus, I am looking forward to curating some really special performances as well.