Nina Harries is a British double bassist and vocalist hailing from Northampton, England. Coming from a family of musicians, she grew up watching her father Timothy Harries perform with artists such as Steeleye Span, Bill Bruford, Brian Eno and Katie Melua, as well as many stage shows such as Mathilda (RSC) and In Your Rooms (Hofesch Schecter). As a child music was the choice language of home, as it was for the whole family. She was a member of several County music ensembles, including 2 years as Principal Double Bass of the award-winning Northampton County Youth Orchestra, and 6 years as an Alto for Northampton School for Girls choir ‘Madrigalis’. In the few years before she left Northampton, Nina also began to discover a love for solo performance, and began to experiment with performing a mix of original and cover songs using only double bass and voice.
In 2012 Nina went on to train in western classical music for 4 years at the Royal College of Music under double bass professor Enno Senft of the London Sinfonietta. It was a difficult 4 years but simultaneously a vital experience to shape her as the musician she felt she should be.
“I always felt a bit below-standard there, it’s such an
*illustrious* (air quotes) institution, everyone is so driven
and focused on entirely classical music, that for myself,
listening to the Velvet Underground all day and going out
doing band shows instead of practising my Bach, I started
to doubt whether I really belonged or deserved to be
But despite the constant ‘imposter syndrome’ and practise-guilt, Nina’s understanding and passion for her instrument began to grow and under the watchful eye of her tutor Enno, she discovered that her real passion lay in Contemporary Classical Music. It was in that freer world of modern music where she could really push the boundaries of her two chosen instruments.
“I spent so much time at the rcm listening to people playing
in the rooms next to me and thinking “Oh gods there’s no
way in hell I’ll ever be able to play like that…”
It was a pretty constant feeling…
But then I remember a concert at The Forge in Camden,
where my professor [Enno Senft] played with the Riot
Ensemble, they did this piece ‘Yes I Said Yes I Will Yes’ by Amy-
Beth Kirsten, for Double Bass and Soprano. Tt was a
beautiful piece, scored for 2 musicians, but I remember just
thinking to myself throughout the piece - “I think I could
play this… I really think I could do this piece myself - both
parts together… I need that score!”
So I asked enno for the part, he was dubious at first but he
got me a copy, and after a week i played him the first page,
it was then that i realised i had something, something that
earned me the right to be there, something that i could feel
proud of and spend the rest of my life working on.
In the last 2 years of her degree at the RCM, Nina began to work as a soloist and band bassist for several acts from the London band scene, namely The Burning Glass, John Fairhurst Trio, Barbarella’s Bang Bang, Symphonica Feat DJ Switch and the London Electronic Orchestra. As a member of these ensembles and as a soloist, Nina has performed at some of the most notable music festivals in the UK including Glastonbury Festival, Latitude, Bestival, Secret Garden Party, Boomtown, Wilderness, Cambridge Folk Festival. She has also performed in the EU at OMNI Fete (LUX) and Blues Alive Festival (CZ), as well as non-festival solo appearances in Berlin, Brussels, Prague, Budapest and Strasbourg in 2018 as part of a solo tour.
She remained performing full time with these ensembles after graduating in 2016, until the summer of 2017 when she received an invitation to join the world-famous dancer Akram Khan to perform vocals and double bass in his swan-song solo ‘XENOS’.
“xenos has changed my life completely. I never ever
thought that I would be performing in something like this
at my age, so early out of college too. and to work
alongside someone like akram khan is the best gift. i used
to think there were no more geniuses, and now i can
genuinely say i get to perform alongside one. the same
can be said of my beloved xenos musician colleagues. i’m
so honoured to play music with these amazing people;
Tamar osborne (bari sax), manjunath bc (mridangam &
konnakol), aditya Prakash (vocals), andrew maddick &
clarice rarity (violin).”
In 2018 Nina has toured to over 17 international locations with the Akram Khan Company, performing at such venues as Jazz @ The Lincoln Centre, New York, Sadlers Wells, London, Onassis Cultural Centre, Athens and at such festivals as Edinburgh Theatre Festival, Adelaide Festival, Julidans, Amsterdam and The 20th China Shanghai International Arts Festival. She will be appearing in XENOS throughout 2019, worldwide.
Such a busy touring schedule has meant that for the first year at least, her solo career has had to take a back seat. But that will no longer be the case for 2019!
“2018 was a rush. i travelled more than i ever had before,
long haul flights, hotels, and of course countless shows
in famous theatres all over the world. i couldn’t really
believe i was there half the time, and i know for sure i had
to kind of put everything else aside in order to get used to
the demands of the show and the touring schedule. but
now we’ve come into 2019, I feel more like i know what i’m
doing, i feel more settled and i’m ready now to push my
own music and perform it as i’ve always dreamt of; with a
full band, 2019 is the year of the band, my band!”
To see what 2019 has in store for Nina, click here