Natalie Shay is a singer-songwriter from North London whose love for music inspired her to learn classical guitar at age 5. Her indie-pop rock sound landed her number 4 on iTunes singer-songwriter charts and her audience continue to grow as her latest EP is filled with catchy 80s-inspired songs. It delves into life as a young woman in the music industry with all-too-relatable tracks about relationships and honest life experiences.
You've just released your debut EP, 'NAKED'– to be at that stage at 21 is so impressive! Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started?
Thank you!! I have, it’s been a long time coming! I began doing music professionally when I was 13, so I guess that's when I started in the industry. I won a competition in 2012 called Gigs Big Busk, it was essentially the first time I had ever performed live and it all kind of continued from there. I joined the BRIT school in 2014 and I've been doing music full time since graduating 3 years ago.
How did you find your sound growing up, how would you describe your music now?
When I first started my sound was more Folk-Country inspired as I was heavily influenced by Taylor swift. I then started doing more Indie rock stuff and now my sound is more Indie pop. I’m really happy with my sound now, I feel like it’s perfect for where I’m at in life. My production is pretty 80’s influenced too.
Do you have any influential forces, people or things you're inspired by?
I mainly write from experience. My main goal as a songwriter is to connect with the listener and I hope that someone can relate to my lyrics. I write about experiences that I’ve been through or things that people close to me have been through. Each song documents a different chapter and emotion I've felt in my life and each of my songs are very special to me because of it.
How important do you think collaboration is to your art, how do you personally collaborate with people?
I think it's very important. Whether that be writing with another writer/ producer or actually creating a song with another artist. I’ve definitely developed from working with other people and that's how I've developed my current sound. Every time I work with someone else I learn something new.
Obviously we're in rather strange times, how are you keeping busy, do you have any creative outlets keeping you sane?
Up until now I've been pretty busy with my EP release, so I'm still kinda working on that remotely, however I’m not sure what I’ll be doing once that starts to calm down, probably just begin working on my next project!
So going back to the release of your EP, can you tell me a bit about the process behind that? What inspired you to make it?
The whole EP kinda formulated around my song ‘People Like Me’, this song was never meant to be released as part of an EP, however once I decided to put it on the EP, it was the perfect fit in terms of sound, vibe, lyrical content and branding. I wanted this EP to be the perfect introduction to 21 year old Natalie Shay, I wanted to capture topically the themes for this chapter of my life but also the production sound that I'm into. I wanted to not give too much away though, kept the EP short but sweet.
What's the actual creative process behind making an EP, and songwriting?
Each song was written differently, at different times, with different people. But all were essentially written across the last couple years. Nothing was written specifically for an EP, they were just my favourite compositions at the time and I think they all worked well together as a body of work.
Do you have a favourite song from 'NAKED'? Or favourite project you've worked on in general?
My favourite song on the EP is ‘Owe it to You’ as it stands, I really like that track, lyrically it's very deep and special to me. However I really love every song on the EP, ‘People Like Me’ is probably my favourite track as of today. (that will probably change, it always does).
Some artists have delayed their music because of everything that’s going on at the moment. Did that thought ever cross your mind?
We did have a conversation about it before the EP came out, but ultimately we decided to go ahead with it, and it's actually turned out to be ok! We focused more on digital release and online blogs/live streaming/ pitching etc. I still plan to do all the physical things I had planned for the EP, just will have to be at a later date.
What has been one of your favourite experiences as a musician?
A really random one, but my favourite highlight was being on the UK jury for the 2018 Eurovision song contest. That was a really special but very cool experience.
It's interesting how the music industry is reacting to this pandemic, it seems some people are thriving whilst others are losing motivation, how do you think artists can continue to create and feel inspired through this?
Just constantly remind yourself there will be another side to this. The key is to get prepared so you can still progress creatively in this time. I’m using this as a time to get the stuff done I’ve been putting off for months.
What advice would you give to those starting out?
I would say, make the music you want to make, and be true to the artist you want to be. Even if that sounds cheesy, it was the best advice anyone gave me.
What things can we look forward to from you, when all of this is over?!
I hope to do another EP as soon as possible, although I’d like to take ‘NAKED’ as far as I can, and resume the things I had planned around the EP. I’m kinda excited to see how it all pans out. New music soon though for sure!