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An Interview with Nina de Vitry at High Water Festival

We had the chance to interview Nina de Vitry in April, after her performance with Noah Kahan at High Water Festival in Charleston. Nina is a singer-songwriter from Lancaster, PA and she joined Noah Kahan’s touring band back in March. Nina is a multi-instrumentalist and was definitely the missing piece that the band was needing. We were able to chat about her solo music, growth, and life on the road. 

Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about how you got into music?

Hello! I’m Nina and I’m 26 years old, and have been surrounded by music for as long as I can remember. Our household was filled with music growing up, and my dad inspired me to take up the violin when I was 5. I also have 3 older siblings who play music, and watching them play always pushed me to learn more. My mom spent hundreds, probably thousands, of hours driving us all to piano and strings lessons over the years, and on top of this, we always went to Old Time and Bluegrass festivals in the summer. I am so grateful to have been raised in a family that loves and prioritizes music so much, as well as having had so many wonderful music educators over the years. Though I took a little detour from music to study Spanish Literature in college, I guess I couldn’t help but find my way back to music once I graduated. I’ve spent the last few years investing in my career both as a solo artist and side person, and I am so thrilled to get to be touring full time as a utility musician now. 

So you released your debut EP, Trust A Dream, in 2017. And picked back up with a few singles and album, What You Feel Is Real, last year. What was that time in between releases like? 

I wrote and recorded my first EP while on a gap year from college, and after its release, I moved back to Philadelphia to finish school. I spent the next several years playing a lot of shows with my own band, and also leaning into practicing different instruments. Of course the pandemic also hit during this time, which caused me to take a long pause from performing and focus more on writing, learning, and teaching. 

Are there plans for more new music this year? You dropped a single at the beginning of the year (“If We Didn’t Have Night”).  Is there more on the way?

Yes! This past January I recorded 2 new singles with one of my favorite engineers and collaborators Shani Ghandi, and I look forward to releasing those sometime this year. 

It’s no secret that you’re on one of the biggest tours happening right now, with Noah Kahan. Can you tell us about how you joined the band and what the process was like?

The opportunity to audition for this band came as a huge surprise. Noah’s music director reached out to me last October after my dear friend John Mailander recommended me as a multi-instrumentalist. Funny enough, I didnt even know Noah’s music at the time and had to look him up to see what the vibe was. I was honored to be considered, and felt pretty nervous at the time about the prospect of joining something so big. I felt like I couldn’t pass up the chance to try though, so I spent a day learning banjo as best I could, worked up the parts for a few of Noah’s songs on a few different instruments, and sent the required videos. A couple of months later I was asked to come in for a live audition with the band in Nashville, and a few days before Christmas Noah called to let me know I got the gig. The whole process was a big test of patience and nerves, and I just kept telling myself that no matter the outcome, it was a great experience to prepare for something like this. By the time I actually found out that I got the gig, I had had a lot of time to process the idea of doing it, which was super helpful. I had such a fun time learning the music and meeting everyone during the in person audition, and felt confident that it was the right next step for me. It has been one of the most exhilarating experiences to go from sending a few audition videos from my childhood home to actually joining the band and starting to play shows. I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it!

When you were touring for your solo music you were playing smaller shows around Tennessee. What has the change been like of now playing arenas and festivals?

I honestly can’t wrap my head around just how many people we have been playing for. Lucky for me, I am terrible at estimating, so sometimes I look out and think “huh, it’s probably like a thousand people” and find out later that it was a 13,000 capacity or something crazy like that. Whenever there’s a break in the set and I step off stage and take my in ear monitors out though, I am baffled by the crowd noise and the size of it all becomes more real. The volume and the energy of all of the fans is wild, and obviously very different from the intimate folk and jazz venues I was playing before. That being said, playing for this many people has definitely confirmed for me that I am in love with live performance, no matter the crowd size. 

What has it been like to see the fan reaction to the music. Does it inspire you and your plans for your solo music?

It is beautiful to see how deeply the music touches every single person in the crowd. I often see people crying and hugging during songs, and it reminds me every day just how powerful music really is. Getting to be so close to Noah’s artistry and to experience his writing in this way inspires me without a doubt. Being a part of his world is such a gift and just validates for me that using music to connect with others is a big part or what I want to do in this life, whether it’s side personing or sharing my own writing. 

How is it being the only woman in the band? This is super cool to see and we were definitely rooting for you as soon as we saw it announced that you were joining the tour. 

Thank you! I’m definitely proud to be part of the band and it feels like a really natural fit. Every member is awesome and welcoming and it’s just a great hang, and I think being a utility multi instrumentalist is one of the most fun jobs in a band. Being the only woman in the band honestly isn’t something that crosses my mind very often. 

That being said, I think many professional women in male dominated spaces get used to adapting to gender imbalances. It can feel isolating when you take a step back and realize that you are in the minority in your day to day workspace, and though things are starting to change, we all know that the music industry in particular has a long way to go with representation. Because of this, it does give me a nuanced sense of purpose to know that I might help inspire young girls to pursue a similar career, or to pursue a career in any male dominated field, for that matter. 

Lastly, if you could play in the band for any other artist at High Water this weekend, who would you choose?

Fleet Foxes or Hozier! I’ve been listening to both bands since middle school and high school respectively, and it still blows my mind that I get to play the same festivals as them. 

Thanks so much for answering these! We can’t wait to follow along your journey 🙂

Thanks for having me! 

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