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NEV is Tired of Being Tired

Written by on September 9, 2022

The Chicago-based artist breaks down her newest single and her buzzy blend of “Spanglish indie pop.”

Since our last conversation with her back in 2020, Chicago-based artist NEV has hit the ground running, recently releasing her single “Así Es La Vida,” which made our “In Rotation” playlist.

Photo courtesy NEV.

The singer songwriter doubles as both an artist as well as a producer. After singing since childhood, NEV decided she wanted to produce her own music after high school and began the self-taught journey towards building her audio production skills.

“Así Es La Vida,” featured on Vocalo’s August 2022 “In Rotation” playlist, is a moody fusion of hip-hop and Latin beats from her Cuban and Guatemalan heritage with modern R&B melodies. The single tells an all too familiar tale of self-liberation.

“‘AELV’ is about the moment when you’re tired of being tired,” NEV explained. “It’s that F it moment where you realize life is too short and you have to do whatever it is you wanna do with your life.”

We heard from NEV about growing up in a musical household, her new single and how her confidence has allowed her music to grow.

Hi! The last time we (virtually) chatted with you was back in March of 2020. How have you been these past couple of years?

Thank you for having me again! I’ve been good! What a wild time we have all gone through since then. I’ve been keeping low for a bit, but I’m so excited to be releasing new music and doing shows again!

RELATED: Our 2020 Conversation with NEV

You mentioned in our 2020 conversation that you’ve lived in a few Chicago neighborhoods. Which neighborhood is your favorite you’ve lived in and why?

I think my favorite neighborhood that I’ve lived in was Little Village. It’s a special neighborhood and I have such special memories there. Truly no place like it.

Can you describe your musical style to someone who’s never heard it before? 

I would describe it as Spanglish indie pop and very cinematic. Something you wanna play in the car with the windows down with a sunset. 

You mentioned in your Spotify bio your Cuban and Guatemalan heritage factors into your sound; how do you feel your cultural heritage has influenced your music and your identity as an artist?

Growing up, I used to have an identity crisis! But now I’m in this place where I’m so proud to represent both of them and also represent the complexities of being American with them. Am I Latina enough? Am I American enough? And I feel like with my Spanglish and my sound, I’m able to represent it all and be proud. I grew up with a lot of old Spanish music that influences my music as well. In my new song, “ASI Es La Vida,” I feel like I’m honing in on Celia Cruz’s “La Vida Es Un Carnaval.” Even though it’s a salsa song and my song is a reggaeton song, I feel like the message of “AELV” represents her. 

You also pointed out that you learned how to play piano at 6 years old! Do you come from a musical family or was this just something you wanted to learn? 

I do! My family is full of musicians on both sides! I grew up watching everyone, especially my mom and dad, and they told me I was always trying to play with them. I like to joke that they just couldn’t shut me up from singing, so they had no choice but to put me in piano lessons! Eventually I learned guitar at 12, and my dad didn’t believe I would learn it at first! But once he saw that I was so determined, they always respected and supported me as a musician. I’m so lucky for their love and support!

How many instruments do you know how to play? Can you list all of them for us? If you had to pick a favorite, which would it be and why?

That’s so hard! I know how to play piano, guitar, some bass and a basic drum pattern! But out of everything, my favorite thing has to be singing, honestly. 

When and why did you get into the production side of making music?

I got into producing music after I graduated high school. I was so tired of people telling me they were gonna record music for me, I just decided to learn how to do it myself. I remember saving up money and risking it all for some basic recording equipment, and from there I just dove into learning Ableton. Honestly the best decision ever! 

Tell us about your debut EP Solita — which Vocalo listeners might know from the track “Sunday Love Song,” which was featured on our airwaves a little while ago. Can you recall how it felt to have this EP out in the world?

It felt so good to have that out! I had been working on it for a long time and was so relieved when it came out. I didn’t expect the response it got and was so happy with it!

Looking back at that first full-length release, how do you feel your work has changed over time? How have you seen yourself grow and change as an artist, if at all?

Other than looking back at older songs and picking at everything I would change, like every artist does, I think my confidence has definitely changed! I think back then I was so shy and so young, and I didn’t have a lot of confidence in myself. Now I’m a little more confident with a much different mindset!

This brings us to your latest single, “Así Es La Vida,” which was added to our on-air rotation in August. Tell us about that single! If you were explaining to someone what it’s about, what would you say?

Yes! To me, “AELV” is about the moment of when you’re tired of being tired. It’s that “F it” moment where you realize life is too short and you have to do whatever it is you wanna do with your life. There’s always gonna be bad things going on and there will be good things, too. And the moment we accept that, it’s so freeing.

 What has the reception to that single been like so far?

It’s been so good! It’s so fun now with Tik Tok, too. I love when people comment or message me about it, and I’m so glad it can affect people in a personal way. 

 Last thing about “Así Es La Vida” — what can you tell us about the cover art?

So I made the cover art myself! I took this picture years ago when I was in Humboldt Park. Roses have always been special for me — not just because my last name is Rosales but because of my grandmother, too! She used to have this huge garden with roses, and I have a lot of childhood memories being in there. 

What do you have coming up on the horizon — anything listeners should know about? Where can people keep up with the latest from you?

Yes! I’m gonna be playing a festival in Detroit called Zo Fine Mental Health and Music Festival and I also have my first Chicago show coming in October at Golden Dagger! I also have new music coming out this fall that I’m so excited to release!

Stay up to date with NEV on Instagram and stream her music below.

Introduction written by Makenzie Creden

Interview and editing for length and clarity by Morgan Ciocca

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