Meet Nina de Vitry, the Temple student who took a gap year to find her passion in music
Her debut EP comes out December 20.
Nina de Vitry was halfway through her freshman year when she realized something. She wasn’t happy.
“I really was feeling down and out throughout the year,” de Vitry said.
With encouragement from family and friends, de Vitry decided to take a gap year.
Before embarking on her gap year, de Vitry attended Miles of Music, a camp in New Hampshire. The musician was encouraged to attend the camp by her older sister.
De Vitry felt encouraged to start making music again. Instructors would teach the musicians how to create charts corresponding to their original songs. A band of instructors would play the song on instruments. The experience gave de Vitry the confidence she needed.
“I never felt like my songs had enough body,” de Vitry said. “If I’m writing these jazz, R & B songs, it doesn’t get very far if I’m just playing it.”
De Vitry has been playing music since she was 5-years-old. She began playing violin before briefly giving it up and picking up again a few years later. Soon after, de Vitry started playing piano and later picked up playing guitar.
The musician also began writing songs at a very young age. In elementary school, de Vitry was inspired to write songs after a musician visited her school.
Nina is not the only musical member of the de Vitry family. The 20-year-old recalls watching her father, Pierre de Vitry, play in bands throughout her childhood.
The music in the de Vitry family extends past Nina and her father. Nina is the youngest of three siblings, each with their own musical ability. Maya, the oldest child in the de Vitry family, is a professional musician.
Nina de Vitry had doubts about taking a gap year, but decided to do it.
“I think the scariest thing [about taking a gap year] was how I was going to make the time meaningful and worthwhile,” de Vitry said. “Both of my older sisters had taken a decent amount of time off. Seeing the amazing stuff they were doing in their time off was really inspiring, but I was also really scared. I [didn’t] want to take time off and craft it based on what I’ve seen them do.”
De Vitry decided to spend her gap year traveling and studying language.
“[I] felt really encouraged by a lot of people that I met along the way,” de Vitry said, smiling.
De Vitry said there is a difference between people she does not know well complementing her songs and people from Lancaster, her hometown.
“It’s hard to know if they expect that of me because I’m from this musical family,” de Vitry said. “They have this prior knowledge that my dad’s in a band and my sister’s in a band.”
De Vitry was thinking about going to nursing school, but her friend told her she could always do that later. He convinced her to record her songs.
“I don’t think at that moment I thought that I was going to make a career in music,” de Vitry said.
To raise the funds for the EP, de Vitry turned to the Internet. De Vitry used Kickstarter as a platform to raise money.
“I just kind of threw myself into this,” de Vitry said. “Every day, I was blasting people on social media and putting up funny pictures or videos that would draw people in."
De Vitry was terrified to start the recording process. The musician found support through her family.
"Before I went in[to the studio], Maya really encouraged me to take charge," de Vitry said.
The EP features a variety of musicians, including a bass player, two drummers, a keyboardist, four horn players, two saxophone players, a trombone player, a trumpet player, and a guitarist.
With the amount of time reserved for the EP, de Vitry was unable to practice with the musicians on the EP before going into the studio.
“I couldn’t practice with the musicians,” de Vitry said. “There just wasn’t a time to get everyone together. I tried to be as efficient as possible. It’s really bold to go into a studio not having practiced with the people that you’re going to be recording with."
While recording Trust a Dream was a stressful experience, de Vitry described it as one of the best experiences of her life.
“The process was probably one of the most fun things I have ever done,” de Vitry said. “To have this vision that people are respecting and helping bring to life is really cool.”
The recording of Trust a Dream began in May and continued until September. From there, de Vitry worked with Mike Newman, a sound engineer, to mix and master the album. In November, de Vitry received the CDs and prepared them to be shipped in time for the EP’s release.
On Trust a Dream, de Vitry channels some of her biggest musical influences. The musician believes that to make great music, you have to listen to great music.
“To be able to talk, you should listen,” de Vitry said. “To be able to write, you should read."
De Vitry channels some of her personal experiences in her songwriting. The song “Golden County” was inspired by Lancaster.
“I wrote that the summer before I went on my gap year,” de Vitry said. “’Golden County’ is Lancaster. I’m talking about going off and out for the first time, and it being really hard to leave."
The EP’s title track, “Trust a Dream”, was written after de Vitry returned from Canada.
“In that song, I was talking to myself," de Vitry said. "You have all the time in the world to be boring and rigid as a stone and too scared to do what you want to do. You could do that forever. You could do nothing forever. It’s definitely a group of songs that deals with the passage of time,” de Vitry said. “Things will be better with time.”
Starting December 20, de Vitry's music will be available on Spotify and iTunes.