After being discovered by Ed Sheeran when she asked for songwriting advice at one of his radio appearances in Edinburgh, Scottish singer Nina Nesbitt was stunned by his invitation to open his European tour. She took that ball and kept running with it, eventually scoring a cameo in Sheeran’s “Drunk” video before going on to compose jangly tracks for other U.K. artists, like The Shires, Olivia Holt and Jessie Ware. It was all before she issued her own chart-topping overseas albums, 2014’s “Peroxide” and its new followup, “The Sun Will Come Up, the Seasons Will Change.” Initially, she was banking on her proficiency in gymnastics as an escape route from her tiny village. “But there’s only so long you can do sports,” she says. “And I just really loved music.”
How did you switch from gymnastics to music?
I started a YouTube channel when I was 15 because I really wanted to know if people thought I could sing or not. I’m a very shy, introverted person, so it was a good way of starting out, and learning to get up onstage.
What was your first posting?
A cover of Kelly Clarkson’s “Already Gone.” And it probably got around only 200 views — I’m not going to lie. And I think it got maybe three comments. But I was very excited about it, because I thought it was good to get honest feedback from total strangers. Getting that advice was really helpful, I found.
You went on to study songwriting in college, but it didn’t work out?
Well, I learned to play the guitar on a website called Ultimate Guitar. And then I went to university and took a music course. And one day we had to write a song, and the teacher came over and said, “OK, let’s see what you’ve got.” And it was the song that ended up getting me signed, actually, although it never came out. But he listened to it, turned to me and said, “Why are you even here? You should leave and go do this properly, start touring, and just learn on the job.”
Then you set up your home studio, Nightwatch?
I got dropped from that label. There weren’t many producers who wanted to work on my songs at the time. So I decided to get a little studio and learn how to do it myself, and nowadays you can just get a laptop and a keyboard and you’re instantly set up. So I got that in my bedroom in London, where I was living, and I’d write these songs in the evenings, about events in my own life. There was something magical about writing at 2 in the morning, while the rest of the house is asleep.
IF YOU GO
Where: Swedish American Hall, 2174 Market St., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. March 20
Tickets: $15 to $50
Contact: (415) 375-3370, www.eventbrite.com