The British-Turkish pop singer NOX introduces a fresh sound to the music scenes of Turkey and the UK with her catchphrase, “documenting the colourful life of your musical Turkish Delight”. NOX, who gained recognition for her debut single “Sun Goes Down,” skillfully combines experimental sounds and Turkish lyrics to appeal to listeners in both nations. NOX, who so aptly embodies the harmony between her two homes, first came to light in 2022 when she opened for Turkish rock group Duman live at Izmir’s City fest. Check out the exclusive interview below:
1. Can you tell us a bit about where you come from and how it all got started?
NOX: Well, I’m a London-born gal, raised in a Turkish household, so you could say I’ve had this cool blend of cultures from the get-go. Growing up, I soaked up traditions, values, and languages from both the UK and Turkey, which shaped who I am today, especially when it comes to my music. Singing, acting, dancing and languages were always my thing. But, truth be told, it was mostly a bedroom and shower gig; confidence wasn’t exactly my strong suit. Shoutout to my mum, she’s been my rock and biggest cheerleader. Took me a while, but I finally decided to dive into music head first, and honestly, I couldn’t be happier with the timing. Sometimes you’ve just got to wait for the right moment to shine!
2. Did you have any formal training or are you self-taught?
NOX: Ah, my musical journey’s been a whirlwind! I started with piano and violin lessons in school, then jumped into the whole choir, talent shows, and local theatre scene. Eventually, I started penning my own songs, drawing from my love for poetry. Funny thing though, after all those years of lessons, I still can’t sight-read music to save my life – but playing by ear? Nailed it. Then came September 2021, I decided to take the plunge and enrol in a Masters’ program in Commercial Songwriting and Music Production at Tileyard Education in London, based out of Tileyard Studios. And that was the game-changer. It opened up a whole new world for me and paved the way for the birth of NOX. I will eternally be grateful for the opportunities that came my way. It’s been quite the ride!
3. Who were your first and strongest musical influences and why the name ‘NOX?
NOX: My musical journey kicked off with Shakira, without a doubt – a total childhood obsession. I was mesmerized by her music, personality and natural ability to dance. I remember spending most of my days dancing around my house pretending to be her! What’s funny is that her Colombian and Lebanese roots not only inspired me to blend my Turkish and British roots into my music but she also influenced me to study Arabic and Spanish at University. Fast forward to NOX’s current inspirations and it’s growing to be a mix of Billie Eilish’s vocals, BANKS’ dark production, Lana del Rey’s poetic lyricism and Labrinth’s experimental sounds. I’m still on the journey of discovering my sound, but it’s shaping up to be pretty promising! Choosing NOX as my artist name was all about that dark mysterious electro-pop aura. I wanted something short, punchy, and easy on the ears in both English and Turkish. NOX is latin for ‘dark’, the opposite of ‘lumos – shoutout to Harry Potter fans! It also happens to be the name of the Greek goddess of the night, the daughter of Chaos, which, fun fact, I’ve got tattooed on my arm. It just felt like the perfect fit for the whole vibe I’m bringing to the music scene.
4. What do you feel are the key elements in your music that should resonate with listeners, and how would you personally describe your sound?
NOX: My music is all about authenticity and real-life experiences, so I hope listeners connect with the emotions and situations I draw from in every song. For those who’ve been through similar feelings, I want my music to resonate on a deep level. As for my sound, I’d say it’s like a dark(ish) pop with a twist of Turkish spice. You know, that blend of cultures that’s unique to me. One thing you’ll notice in every track is the multiple vocal layers – it’s become a signature of NOX. Those layers not only set my music apart but also bring out the essence of Turkish sounds in an English language setting. Huge shoutout to my incredible vocal producer and arranger, Veira, for bringing those harmonies to life.
5. What’s your view on the role and function of music as political, cultural, spiritual, and/or social vehicles – and do you try and affront any of these themes in your work, or are you purely interested in music as an expression of technical artistry, personal narrative, and entertainment?
NOX: For me, diving into music means diving into the nitty-gritty of lyrics. As a songwriter, that’s where my focus naturally zooms in. The more complex and poetic, the better. Music been an incredible tool throughout history, used to navigate political and social landscapes. While I don’t directly tackle those themes in my songs, my music indirectly explores my mainly queer relationships – and that, in itself, is kind of a step forward. Culturally, my music and lyrics definitely stand out from the Turkish norms. There are certain topics society shies away from, and you won’t find them in Turkish music either. Take “Holy Flames,” for example. It’s all about lust, sensuality, and sexual obsessions – topics that aren’t commonly explored. I reckon the openness and vulnerability in my songs could shake up the Turkish music scene, offering something fresh and new.
6. Could you describe your creative processes? How do usually start, and go about shaping ideas into a completed song? Do you usually start with a tune, a beat, or a narrative in your head? And do you collaborate with others in this process?
NOX: My songwriting process usually kicks off with a beat or some piano chords. Lyrics come second for me. Like most songwriters, I’ll start humming a potential melody, spewing out random words and gibberish until something clicks. Once I’ve got a feel for the melody, I’ll choose a theme based on my personal experiences. It’s all about letting the song guide me, feeling the vibe in the moment, and waiting for that burst of inspiration. Sometimes amongst all of that inspo a specific word or phrase pops up, and bam – that becomes the heart of the track. Take my upcoming single “insan/human” for example. It’s all about those little sparks of creativity. Back in the day, it used to be just me and my piano. But now I’m all about collaboration. Working with like-minded artists who understand my music, vibe, and artistry brings a fresh sound to NOX. I truly believe the more heads, the merrier. Although, I do cap songwriting sessions at three people max. Anything more than that and things can get a bit messy. I’ve got to keep things focused and on track!
7. What has been the most difficult thing you’ve had to endure in your life or music career so far?
NOX: So life threw me a curveball just as I was getting into my music career. Right smack in the middle of my MA degree and starting off in the industry, I found out I was pregnant. Talk about a plot twist! So I had to take a big break from making music, which, let me tell you, isn’t exactly ideal when you’re trying to make a name for yourself. Consistency is key in this game. You have to keep those releases coming, stay active on socials with posts, reels, reminders – the whole package. But with a little one on the way, I just didn’t have the time to juggle it all. Plus, without regular releases and a solid fanbase, getting gigs becomes a whole lot trickier. It’s like a catch-22 – no evidence of people wanting to hear your music means no gigs, and no gigs mean no evidence of people wanting to hear your music. Not the easiest situation to be in. So now that my son’s getting older, I’m super excited to be back into the music scene. I’m ready to pick up where I left off and keep the creativity flowing. It’s been a wild ride but all worth it.
8. On the contrary, what would you consider a successful, proud or significant point in your life or music career so far?
NOX: There have been some seriously proud moments in my music journey. One that stands out big time to me is back in April 2022, I got to perform on the stage for my first-ever live performance as the opening act for one of Turkey’s biggest rock groups, Duman. We played at the Izmir Arena as part of the CityFest Izmir festival.. an incredible opportunity, especially considering my lack of musical experience or professional background at the time. Also, I was the only female act at the three-day festival. Crazy, right? This definitely shone a light on the gender issues still present in the industry. But that’s not all – during my MA degree, I won the biggest bursary award sponsored by Spitfire Audio, again insane?! Then, there are the songwriting camps in London, Denmark, and Sweden. We also have a co-written song called ‘Gel Buraya’ signed with BMG Music, and I’m currently working on something really exciting with them. Keep your eyes peeled! So I guess it’s easy to say that my dreams are coming true.
9. With social media having a heavy impact on our lives and the music business in general, how do you handle criticism, haters, and/or naysayers in general? Is it something you pay attention to, or simply ignore?
NOX: Luckily, I haven’t had to deal with any haters or yet, and fingers crossed it stays that way! Criticism is something I’m still learning to navigate, both in music and life in general, but I’m getting there, one step at a time. Thankfully, I’ve got a great support system, both here in the UK and back in Turkey. These people are always there to lift me up and remind me why I do what I do. Nothing beats getting those DMs from strangers, asking for acoustic versions of my songs or just praising my voice and talent. So I guess, for now, I’m just going to keep doing my thing and soaking up all the love and positivity coming my way and deal with the rest as and when it comes. At the end of the day, we’re only human, we can’t please everyone.
10. Do you think is it important for fans of your music to understand the real story and message driving each of your songs, or do you think everyone should be free to interpret your songs in their own personal way?
NOX: Personally, I’m all for letting listeners interpret my music however they want. Everyone’s got their own reality. I do it all the time with songs I love. But when you stumble upon the real meaning behind a song years down the line it’s like a lightbulb moment – suddenly everything clicks into place. All my songs are rooted in real-life events or at least inspired by them, and that’s my truth, whether people know it or not. But honestly, I don’t dwell on it too much. Music’s my passion, and I’m just happy to put it out there for people to enjoy. It’s actually pretty interesting to see the different interpretations people come up with. It’s all part of the magic of music.