Nilu is Singing for Herself

Categories: Locals Only

Erin Hoffstetter
Nilu Madadi crashed the local music scene two years ago with the underground hit "Sing for You." The YouTube video of her performing the sultry, breathy piano ballad at the Noise Coalition in Costa Mesa went viral, and flocks of new fans gravitated to a new, OC songwriting talent. But as all the newfound attention came to Nilu, she retreated.

"There was a lot that happened after 'Sing for You' that kept me away from my piano," she says. "I became a bit too critical of myself and my songwriting. It was pretty exhausting."

Long before the singer blew up, she threw up. At an early age, her mother had exposed her to Persian classical music and poetry. She remembers performing in a piano recital "when I was, like, 5," Nilu says. She was so nervous she puked. As she got older, the retching continued. "I sang for the first time in front of a few people at an open mic at Gadgetbox Studios in Santa Cruz when I was 21 and dry heaved before. I'm a mess."
But for now, Nilu's nerves seem under control. When she recently graced stages at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa and the City National Grove of Anaheim, her long, slender fingers trekked across the piano keys as she crooned her emotionally charged lyrics, and between songs, she cracked jokes with the crowd.

Overcoming personal struggles during the past year provided the creative crucible for Dichotomy, Nilu's much-anticipated debut EP. The four-track effort is anchored by "Breakdown," a pensive piano ballad positioned to keep her musical momentum going two years after first gaining recognition.

"For me, songwriting comes most easily when I'm feeling an extreme," Nilu says. "I was in a real shit hole when I wrote 'Breakdown,' and the only thing I knew to do was to go to my piano and figure it out."

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