Popstar Nessa Barrett has always loved making music, growing up in and around music studios. She's not afraid to show off a different side to herself through her music, and she uses her music to process things that are going on in her life. With a history in social media, she's quickly making a name for himself, but she's just getting started.
She recently teamed up with jxdn and Blink-182's Travis Barker to release her single la di die, and we spoke to Nessa about working with the duo, as well as how making music helps her deal with her mental health.
Cool Accidents: Firstly, you’ve recently worked with jxdn and Travis Barker – can you tell me about that experience?
Nessa Barrett: I think it was just so cool finally being able to work with jxdn because we have been friends for so long and we've always vibed. It was really awesome, and actually being able to record with Travis was just a dream. I remember the days when I would sing I Miss You by Blink in my bedroom when I got home from school. To go from that, to actually being in the studio with him, and him being behind me during our performances playing the drums, I think it’s insane. It’s been such an amazing experience; I love them both and I’m so blessed to be able to work with them.
Did you pick up any tips in the studio working with Travis, seeing as he is such a music veteran?
I think what I got from Travis was, maybe it doesn’t have anything to do strictly with music, but more of the fact that he is so dope. He is Travis Barker. When you see him, he’s such a down-to-earth human being. You walk in and he’s very welcoming, and he's a normal guy.
Something that I've learnt from him is that you can’t let this stuff go to your head. You have to stay true to yourself and stay who you are. Remember where you came from, because at the end of the day, you’re you, no matter what. It doesn’t matter how many followers you have or how many hit songs you have, or even what people see you as, you are yourself, no matter what, and I think that’s my biggest lesson from Trav.
What about any funny stories from the time you spent with them in the studio? Do you have any?
The whole experience was just fun. It was just very exciting and dope. There were so many laughs that were shared during recording and so many funny moments. When jxdn was tracking his vocals for the first time for la di die there was a little pause in the song and he looks at me through the booth and says, "I’m gonna do something but just go with it, you might not like it but just go with it" and then he screamed. That was something where I was like, ‘woah, what the heck’, but it did sound so dope and it was so cool, and it needed to be in the song so we kept it.
Growing up what role did music play in your life and who were some artists that you listened to when you were younger?
Music was a huge part of my life, always. My dad was a hungry artist, he wanted to really be in the music industry, and he is very talented. Since the day I was born, I’ve always had a studio in my house because of him. On my first Christmas, my parents got me a little toy studio that was right next to his and it’s always been a part of me.
I remember recording my first song when I was aged four in the studio, and it was just my life. When my mental health came into play, I used that to cope – it actually kept me going. It gave me a reason to live, which is insane. It just means so much to me.
My favourite artists that I’ve listened to would probably be The Neighbourhood. I did listen to Blink a lot when I was little, and I did fuck with Justin Bieber, not gonna lie. I was a Belieber. As I got older, I started being like ‘ooh James Blake’, I love that man. Lauryn Hill, there are just so many amazing artists that my parents showed me at such a young age.
Can you talk us through your writing process? Do you draw inspiration for your music from external sources or what’s going on in your life?
If I’m being honest, I have so many different writing processes. I’ll be sitting down, and I’ll see something, and it will spark a lyric or an idea for a song and then I’ll go at it and try to come up with something. I’ll be in a situation and that will spark a lyric or an entire song because I just need to get that shit off my chest.
If I’m going through something, when I try to cope, I will go to the studio and I will make a song that will make me feel better. Sometimes I just get random melodies in my head that I use to find lyrics too. I’ll even have a conversation with someone and they will say something that is super fucking cool and I’ll think ‘that sounds like such a good lyric’ and I’ll use it. Most of the time I’ll just find an instrumental and production that just fits my vibe at the moment and I’ll just sit and freestyle until I figure it out.
Did you feel a sense of pressure showing your musical side to the world when many people primarily knew you from TikTok? Or was it exciting knowing you already had an established audience to show another side of yourself to?
I think the whole beginning for me was really scary. As much as I was excited to finally do something that I love, I knew that because I was coming from a social media space I wouldn’t be taken seriously as an artist, which freaked me out a little bit.
Just because music was something that I always wanted to do, I would drop one song and I knew that because of my following people would hear it, and that scared me too because I didn’t know if people would like it and I care about that. It got easier. I’m way more confident now and the fact that I’m doing something that I love so much means more than anything.
You’ve spoken in the past about the effects social media can have on mental health – do you find that writing and making music is an outlet for you to talk about the things you might not want to otherwise discuss?
Yeah! If I’m being honest, music is one of the only ways that I can actually express myself because I can say so much that’s on my mind without actually saying it. It’s my only outlet, my only coping skill and it does help.
Being able to go through something or battle with something internally and being able to write it down on a piece of paper, make it into a song and share it with the world is something that is so freeing. Even though my lyrics can be more metaphorical than literal, I know what it means and just the fact other people are hearing it is just me crying out and showing what I’m going through.
Are there any Australian artists you’re enjoying at the moment? If so, who?
Dude, Australia rocks! Literally, 5 Seconds of Summer are insane, love those boys. Ruel, I fricking love! Fucking The Kid Laroi – literally insane. Those crazy fucking artists in Australia. So dope.
Finally, who would be your dream person to make a song with and why?
I think my dream person to make a song with now would be either Trippie Redd or The Neighbourhood. I know those are two very different artists, but I think Trippie just has such a dope vibe that I think would be so sick. The Neighbourhood are my favourite band ever, I love them, and I think our vibes would mix so well.