Interview: NAO at Beyond The Valley

Hailing from East London, NAO’s sound has been described as a mixture of electronic music, funk and RnB. In 2014 she released her first EP ‘So Good’ and since then she has been busy collaborating with such names as Disclosure, Stormzy and Mura Masa. We caught up with NAO during Beyond the Valley music festival and chatted about fashion, music and what she thinks about the new royal engagement.

Georgina: What inspires you, where do you get your looks from?

NAO: I think I just get it from like different places, just like everyone else. Scrolling through Instagram or pintrest or something and you’re like that looks cool, that looks sick. I’m also, a 90s girl as well so I like baggy pants to hide my big bum and to make my waist look smaller and crop tops. Things that are super casual and super comfy. I like to dance a lot and move around. Also, Aaliyah she used to wear baggy Calvin Kleins or Levi’s jeans and crop top so I was like that will do it…

I also, wear African prints as well, especially if I’m doing shows or award shows I’ll always wear African print. I don’t know why, I just feel like they just put so many different colours that you normally wouldn’t find, like, in your local high street store, and the music I sing is colourful and a ‘mish-mash’ of so many different things that when I saw the print I was like yes that’s my thing.

Georgina: What about 2018, are you still going to channel the 90s girl?

NAO: That’s a very good question, I feel like I might have to change it up. I’ve had a birthday, I’m one year older, it’s time to try something new and step into my womanly self. Have you got any suggestions?

Georgina: Oh my tips!? [Laughs] My style is very outside the box and I have my own original flair, so, I’m definitely supporting Rihanna FentyxPuma, because I love her style, her aesthetic is very similar to my old clothing label [Lasskaa]. As a 90s girl myself I’ll always keep that going through to the New Year somehow, but I do have a secret colour that I want to channel… I am really loving brown tones and nude tones.

NAO: Oh… you’re thinking brown? Oh, I’ll start wear brown. I’ll just go naked [Laughs].

Georgina: Being from England can I be cheeky and ask what you think about Prince Harry’s engagement?

NAO: Harry’s engagement? Oh my gosh. I didn’t really think about it until you just said it this moment. I think it’s great. Love is great, marriage is great, the fact that it’s people from two different heritages and backgrounds I think it’s wicked, very, contemporary and modern day. I say, ‘Meghan, Harry, invite me to the wedding please, I’ll sing for you’. [Laughs]

Georgina: Music wise, is there any other up and coming UK artist that you want to see jump up there like you have? Is there anyone underground you know?

NAO: I feel like there is so many people in London bubbling away and haven’t hit the peak of where they could be, actually, he’s from Australia, but lives in London, Jordan Rakei… also Lianne La Havas and Michael Kiwanuka who are all established over there but, I feel like the world should get to know them…. and get more recognition because they are sick.

Photography by Georgina Solomon.

Video and interview transcript by Nelya Valamanesh.

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