“After years of lending my voice to words that others wrote on stage and screen as a studio singer and actress, it feels so different to use my voice to tell my own story now,” says Nina Herzog, ahead of the release of her debut EP, Together Away. The LA-based singer, who became known for voicing Odette in Sony Animation’s The Swan Princess, has been talking about releasing her own music for some time, and now that time is here.
“The last year has left me with the space to really, finally release my music for others to hear, and has allowed me to stay connected to others through music,” Herzog tells American Songwriter. As a successful session singer and voice actor, recording hundreds of demos and commercials for Universal, Sony and Broadway shows, Herzog has been wanting to release her own music for many years. But she would always find herself swept up in deadlines for the projects of others. Allowing herself the space to make Together Away gave Herzog the chance to find her voice as a songwriter, and it’s a path she wants listeners to travel on with her.
“During the recording process, I wanted to go on a journey—emotionally, sonically, and visually—with each song,” she says. “Together Away is an exploration of how we remain connected to those we love, even when we are apart. Creating this EP deepened my understanding of this idea, and in that way, it has been comforting, empowering, and has changed me for the better.”
The EP features six orchestral pop soundscapes that were crafted with producer Phillip Peterson, who’s worked with the likes of Ed Sheeran and Lorde. “Lean Into Me” was written around six or seven years ago, while the rest were written in the time since then. “When the songs were recorded, it was very important to me to try to communicate as authentically as I possibly could, to sing with an open heart, and to find strength in vulnerability as I share the songs inside of me,” says Herzog.
She explores this vulnerability further in the song “Changing Seasons,” which, with its warm acoustic guitar, embraces living life with all that it brings. “When I was writing ‘Changing Seasons,’ I was proposing an argument for myself to consider: if I never fully dive into connection through vulnerability, and embark on the kind of risk-taking that leads to dream-achieving, I will be missing out on having a wealth of experiences—a deep creative well—to create and write from. When I sing out during the song, ‘Help me sing!’ it is a request to embrace the richness and sweetness that new experiences bring.”
New experiences have abounded in Herzog’s life, after a fulfilling time spent voicing Odette. “Using my voice to bring such a sweet, wonderful character to life was really inspiring,” she says. “Odette is such a deep believer in eternal and limitless love, which is an energy I called upon during the making of my EP.”
This is the kind of energy Herzog draws upon on in songs like “Lover’s Lullaby,” which she says is filled with warmth, hope, and light for those we hold close in our hearts during the pandemic. “Like a mother soothes her child with a lullaby, lovers lull one another in warmth and comfort—surrounded by a feeling of being home,” she says. “I hope my loved ones I am far from feel bathed in comforting love when they hear this song, as I too find peace in connecting across the distance.”
Connection across distance is the underlying theme of Together Away. “I see that music is one of the most significant ways that humans stay connected,” says Herzog. For her, bonding with others by releasing music has been essential: “I appreciate my time spent creating in an even more profound way this last year.”
The songs Herzog sings on the EP are for her just as much as they are for those who listen. “Being able to sing and perform my own songs brings me the chance to find my voice and to hear my inner guidance clearly,” she says.
The rest of the noise and chatter of the world quiets down when Herzog writes and sings. “I begin to guide my own path more authentically and with more self-direction. I feel that finding my voice as a songwriter has changed me, shown me to myself, and empowered me.”
Photo by Jay Gilbert