Thursday, August 26, 2021

10 Questions For: Natalie Shay


Sounds European! lands in the United Kingdom for another exclusive interview. She mixes indie, pop and rock in a captivating way. And her singles made her one of the most exciting rising talents of its music scene. These are our 10 questions for Natalie Shay:

Sounds European!: We would like to start our interviews talking about your music backgrounds. What are your first memories with music? What artists did you enjoy listening to when you were growing up? And do you feel they have influenced, in any aspect, the artist you are today?

Natalie Shay: I began playing guitar when I was five years old and being very into musical theatre. Around age ten I was so inspired by Taylor Swift at her concert and after that I began writing songs. The beginning was pretty wholesome, I would play local gigs and church halls, until at age 13 I started playing my first proper gigs. I suppose initially Taylor was a huge influence, she got me writing on the guitar! Her career continues to inspire me, I think she's a huge icon and has inspired a whole generation of female singer and songwriters.

SE!: You have a background in classical music. And you also spent time at the prestigious BRIT School. What have you learnt through these experiences? And how do you apply your learnings to your career?

NS: Yes! I am trained primarily in classical guitar! However, I have never done anything professional in classical music. I suppose the main thing here, though, is how comfortable I am with a guitar, although I don't fingerpick for my original music, I suppose the finger strength and technique experience comes through. BRIT taught me a lot, a lot about the industry but mostly about different artists and people – and I guess the biggest thing it did was broaden my horizons and ultimately gave me the confidence to do music as a full time career after I graduated.

SE!: Speaking about your music, we can tell influences from several genres. If you had to define your own sound, how would you describe it? What elements do you like working with for your music? What would you like the public to feel when listening to your songs?

NS: I suppose it has pop elements, country elements and indie elements, this heavily relates back to my favourite artists and inspirations growing up. I guess I would describe it as "guitar breakup pop" but I do feel like influence wise it's quite fluid, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. I love working with authentic synths and guitars, I have a lot of '80s influence in production, I guess I just like the sound of it! I hope audiences enjoy the production, but most of all, I hope some can find relatability in my lyrics.

SE!: You have written lyrics for some of your songs, but you've also sung lyrics from other composers. As a lyricist, how is the process of songwriting for you? What inspires you to write? And what catches your attention to sing the words of others?

NS: I've written lyrics for all of my songs except a feature track I did with EDM artist Kryder, which was a cover of the dance classic "Rapture". All other lyrics are my own, I'm pretty protective about my lyrics, I have written them in collaboration with others before and the main thing here is for the other writer(s) to totally understand what I'm writing about, so there's a lot of talking involved before we get writing! I'd say most if not all of my songs are about myself, from personal experience, or from the experience of people very close to me. I am especially inspired by emotion, I think if you can capture a feeling in a song or lyrics that's really precious.

SE!: Last year you released an EP, "Naked". Walk us through the release. How were you involved in its production? Was it any different to releasing singles (and if so, how/why)? The release had a warm welcome from both the critics and the general public. How was it to have your debut EP be so well received?

NS: It was amazing to have the EP so well received! I released it at the start of the pandemic so the plan had to change slightly, so it was very reassuring to still have gained success from it! I was very involved with all aspects of it, I worked with every collaborator for every section of creating the EP, from the artwork to videos to production. I did actually somewhat release each track in its own spotlight, so it's quite similar to releasing a single in that sense, but just a lot more singles in a much shorter space of time than I'd ever done before. Every track on the EP was pre written as a single, but then I chose the best fitting tracks to put together to form the EP.

"I am especially inspired by emotion, I think if you can capture a feeling in a song or lyrics that's really precious"

SE!: You have just released "Medicine boy". How would you describe it, both lyrically and musically? What is the core message of the song?

NS: "Medicine boy" plays on the theme of comparing a fresh dysfunctional relationship with a boy, to a drug. The lyrics are written so that if I told you the whole song was about an addictive relationship, it would make sense. But if I also told you the whole song was about recreational drug use, every line would still make sense.
I wanted to capture the essence of a bittersweet relationship – the way you know it's bad for you, you know you can do better, but it's not bad enough to make you want to leave, and the "highs" of the romance are too good to walk away from.
I really wanted to write about the way a relationship that "isn't good" isn't always "totally bad". Writing from personal experience, I like to document stages of my life and emotions I've felt through songwriting and lyrics. I was really struggling to find a way to express the thoughts and feelings I felt in this chapter of my life, however I really feel we encapsulated the entire story in this song.

SE!: Your live performances have been described as "explosive". What elements do you focus on when planning live shows? How is the experience of performing live for you? What could we expect from a show of yours?

NS: I love playing live more than any other element of my career! I love playing music face to face to an audience and hoping to connect with them! I guess I play lots of different shows, I have the big shows where I play full band with the big tracks to get people dancing, but I also have an acoustic set up where I play the more "emotional" songs for listening in quiet rooms with a seated audience. I love both kinds of show, I take pride in my setlists.
I hope my setlists can tell a story and mood wise take the audience on a journey. I've been performing live regularly for nine years, I love every show.

SE!: What are your professional projects for the near future? What can your fans expect from you?

NS: Maybe another EP... Next single out on September 2nd!

SE!: If you could choose anyone, who would be some British and international artists you would like to collaborate with?

NS: Taylor Swift (obvs), and also Gary Lightbody, he is the lead singer of Snow Patrol, I think he's awesome!

SE!: We would like to finish this interview with a song of yours. What is your favorite song by Natalie Shay, and why?

NS: "People like me"! I've always been super proud of this one, it really captures my 20 year old mood at the time and I think it's funky! :)

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