Okay, I have no idea if she is Muslim or not even though her parents are Pakistani, since she doesn't seem that religious.
Q&A WITH DANCE MUSIC DIVA NADIA ALI: “I WAS A REBELLIOUS LITTLE TEENAGE GIRL”
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2010 by SAMANTHA in EXCLUSIVES, MUSIC
Club music. Most desi parents associate it with epilepsy-inducing strobe lights and dangerously obscuring fog machines. Also alcohol, drugs, pregnancy, disaster. (Ok, maybe not all parents, but mine definitely did.)
So how did a nice Pakistani-American girl from Queens grow up to become one of the most celebrated dance music divas around right now?
If you think you’ve never heard Nadia Ali, you’re probably mistaken. Her 2001 single “Rapture” (the first release of her former group iiO) is still that song dance/trance/house DJs throw into a mix to get people feeling sexy on the floor. You’ve heard it remixed, you’ve heard it on compilations, you’ve probably even heard it in your doctor’s office by now. Her remote-yet-alluring voice whispers, commands, and stays in your head for days.
Only 17 years old when she met producer Markus Moser to form iiO, Nadia went solo in 2005, proceeding to release two more albums – Poetica and Embers — that flooded the charts with club hits like “Crash and Burn,” “Love Story,” and “Fantasy.”
We’re currently awaiting the final installment of her Queen of Clubs Trilogy: Best of Nadia Ali Remixed, a collection of greatest hits featuring Nadia as the Queen of Clubs. The Ruby Edition and Onyx Edition released this past August and October respectively, and the Diamond Edition is due in December.
So how did Nadia Ali do it? We tried to find out back in September but our timing was terrible — she was touring and recording in between releasing the first two virtually back-to-back editions of the trilogy. We also seemed to have a certain vampire movie on the brain and asked a few totally irrelevant questions that seemed hilarious back then. (Her answers are so good we kept them.) So, in short, we still don’t know. But no matter what, we continue to be fascinated by the sultry muezzin of the dance floor.Why did you choose a Queen of Clubs playing card motif?
I chose Queen of Clubs because the idea originally came to me when I was trying to find a way to incorporate the fact that I grew up in Queens, New York (which is the most ethnically diverse county in the world), and how that contributed to my desire to make music. Naturally since my music is played the most at night clubs, I thought it would be cool to use the two words for a whole theme for an album series.Are you a gambler?
I am not a gambler at all. Except with my desire to continue making music. It’s always a risk to pursue anything in the arts.What’s your favorite card game?
It’s a silly game I used to play as a child. It’s called “I declare war.”Your trilogy features some huge club names — Armin Van Buuren, Sultan & Ned Shepard, Tocadisco — Did you approach the DJs, did they approach you, how did you come to choose the lineup?
Well, I wanted this trilogy to not only feature my past work with iiO or even my solo music. But, I thought since I have done a number of collaborations with DJ/Producers like Armin Van Buuren and Tocadisco, I wanted to include that in this package.
I would say it has been a mutual desire to work with one another. I knew of Armin, Tocadisco, and Sultan & Ned Shepard’s work before and they knew mine as well. Very often it’s because we’re all fans of one another. It worked out well.What’s it like to have DJs tinker with your songs? Have you ever heard a remix that you didn’t like? What’s your favorite remix and who did it?
I find it to be amazing to have my music remixed. It’s just so fascinating to hear what a producer will do with just a vocal melody alone. I have indeed heard remixes of my songs that I didn’t like, but to each their own. Different strokes for different folks.
One of my favorite remixes of late has been the Wippenberg remix of my Tocadisco collaboration titled “Better Run.”What made you want to break away from iiO and go solo five years ago?
I felt it was time to express my self as an individual singer/songwriter. I had learned a lot from being a part of iiO and wanted to grow as an artist on my own.As a woman going solo, has the industry/your fanbase treated you differently?
I believe for the most part the industry has slowly but surely supported my solo work. I think people are naturally skeptical even when they don’t mean to be, but at this point I feel confident that I have made a mark of some kind.Are there different expectations?
I think for any ambitious adult, they’re are always demands that we have to live up to. I do think that sometimes expectations are unrealistic, but at the end of the day, if you keep your artistic integrity, the hard work does get noticed.You’re one of few solo divas who keeps her (very elegant) clothes on in her videos. Would you say that was a conscious decision? Is there pressure to do otherwise?
It is in fact a deliberate decision to remain modest in my wardrobe though people have the tendency to criticize anything they can on a public figure. I do find that ultimately I feel more comfortable being a little bit more on the covered side, because it keeps the focus on my art. There is pressure when you are in show business because of the famous expression “sex sells” but I’d rather remain conservative and go against what is expected.What did you listen to growing up?
I actually was exposed to a myriad of musical styles. The first influence was, of course, the Eastern music my parents used to play around the house. Then I discovered reggae, r&b, pop, grunge, classic rock etc. It seems like every two years I had a new obsession.How did you become interested in dance music?
Well I was a rebellious little teenage girl and used to go to night clubs because I loved to dance the night away. The music alone was my high so I was fortunate enough not to get into trying any alcohol or drugs.As a child of Pakistani parents, was there pressure on you to veer away from the arts?
Absolutely. My parents immigrated to the States and went through a long period of culture shock. Also, I was a studious young girl so they naturally wanted me to pursue something academic as it still considered more stable career.How does your family feel about your career?
My mom and dad have since evolved and are now my biggest fans. They constantly ask me for my latest music and often times memorize my lyrics which I find to be endearing.You were born in Libya — have you been back?
I have not been back in Libya but I long to do so. I spent a good five years of my life there so I have a lot of
memories from my childhood.What are your favorites places in the Middle East?
Egypt is very likely my favorite country in the middle east. I love the combination of ancient history and the progressive young adults who are rich in culture and values.Where on the globe is your biggest fanbase located?
I think it would be a tie between Egypt, Colombia, and Romania.On your global tours, where do people dance the hardest to your music?
Probably the Latin world. They know how to have a good time.Who is your favorite Queen?
I think Cleopatra was probably one of the coolest queens that ever lived. I mean we’re still talking about her centuries later.You’re totally alone in your house for the next few hours. What record do you put on?
I love discovering a great new indie artist. Recently I’ve been fixated with the XX.Team Edward, Team Jacob, or Team “I DON’T WATCH TWILIGHT!!!” ?
[Laughs] I tried so hard to be a contrarian and not fall into the media frenzy of the Twilight series, but taking flights all the time makes you watch a lot of movies. I finally surrendered and, of course, became obsessed like a teenage girl. I am definitely Team Edward.You’re escaping from earth after an apocalyptic uprising. You can only bring: 1 household item, 1 outfit, and 1 hot celebrity. What would you bring?
Household Item: Ipod
Outfit: A cotton one-piece
Hot Celebrity: Brad PittAre you vegetarian or non?
I love meat but I also love vegetarian food (must be my Indian ancestry).What’s a meal/food/condiment you can’t live without?
Fish.Weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Frog legs.Do you plan on touring with any of the DJs on the Queen of Clubs trilogy?
Yes, I have already signed up to be a featured guest on Armin Van Buuren’s Armin Only tour. Also, I have plans to tour with Sultan & Ned Shepard & others.What’s next for Nadia Ali?
Going to start working on my next dance album this coming spring. Lots of music videos to come from the collaborations I’ve done with Armin Van Buuren, Sultan & Ned Shepard, and Dresden & Johnston to name a few. I am currently writing a number of tunes for a lot of international producers. Also, I am planning on starting some work on an experimental acoustic project some time in 2011.