Since first breaking into the music industry, genre-mixing artist Nessa Barrett has delved further into her own inner darkness with each new release. She plays a ghost in the music video for “I Hope Ur Miserable Until Ur Dead,” who haunts an ex-boyfriend in lingerie and opera-length gloves, appears in mirrors and stares at him as he sleeps, like a lingering curse. In “I Wanna Die,” the singer is a corpse with acrylic nails being prepared for a funeral by a handsome undertaker. “To be honest, I’ve never felt more confident than when I was wearing dead makeup,” she told MTV with a laugh.
But for 19-year-old Barrett, who will be MTV’s Push performer in November 2021, the journey into those depths has been one to authenticity and self-discovery. The takeaway for the revenge song “I Hope Ur Miserable Until Ur Dead,” for example, is to be true to yourself and your deepest feelings, even if it makes others uncomfortable. “It’s not wrong to show that you’re hurt or bothered by what someone did to you,” she says. “I feel like I was tired of hearing, ‘Oh, I wish them the best, no matter what.'”
Indeed, today’s singer, with her often somber lyrics and raven locks, is barely recognizable from the brown-haired girl from Galloway, New Jersey, who quickly rose to fame on TikTok. Barrett first became known to the world for the clips she shared to the app from March 2019, in which she would say lyrics and dance to old-school hip-hop songs. But social media stardom casts a long shadow, so last summer she set a course across the country to Los Angeles, setting her sights on a successful career as an artist.
The gamble paid off. After releasing her debut single, the piano-led ballad “Pain,” she soon signed to Warner Records. And earlier this year, in September 2021, Barrett dropped her first EP, nice gif, a collection of songs that tackle her experiences with mental health, romantic relationships, and growing up in the public eye through a typically “dark, moody” lens. It’s also venturing into new territory, such as the grunge-stained sound of “La Di Die”, and into the love song genre. There are two on the project (although you wouldn’t know it by their bleak titles alone), “I Wanna Die” and “Grave,” which were inspired by her relationship with Jaden Hossler, better known as the artist Jxdn.
“I have the idea and the concept [for “Grave”] from a conversation I had with Jaden. He said something so cute, and I was a creep and I was like, Okay I’m going to write this in my notes because I know I’m going to use this in a song later. He said he’d take his love for me to the grave and I was like, My heart, and also, [That’s a] song.” She performs this song, as well as “I Hope Ur Miserable Until Ur Dead,” as part of her MTV Push interview below.