Natalie Prass talks to BBC Love Festivals

Photograph by Marieke Macklon

Photograph by Marieke Macklon

Earlier this year Natalie Prass released her debut eponymous album to critical acclaim. A singer-songwriter from Virginia her album is a standout in a new American indie scene.  Currently on tour around Europe she took a short break before her performance on the Mountain Stage at Green Man to chat with us about …

… her first song: I wrote my first song in grade 8 about the last tulip on earth it was called ‘The Last Flower’, I was always a very dramatic emotional child.

… studying music: [it] didn’t teach me to be a better songwriter, you can’t teach that, but it taught me how to be responsible. It taught me that it doesn’t matter if I’m inspired by something just write something and try to make it meaningful no matter what and to meet deadlines because before I was like ‘oh I need to be inspired…’

… performing: I love performing. My favourite thing to do is look up and see the atmosphere around me, it is the best feeling to have. Recently more and more people are starting to sing along. There are certain songs where people will be singing together and it has brought me to tears a couple of times. It has been really emotional for me, it’s so cool.

… playing festivals:  I feel like I’m still trying to nail festival performances. We have played a bunch of different festivals, the hardest for me are the ones at noon when we’re opening a stage, because my music is pretty soft. I feel like I’m trying to learn but I don’t want to be too ‘clowny’ up there, I don’t want to be something I’m not. You sometimes feel alone up there, but it’s fun, I’m not complaining, this (Green Man) is amazing, not all of them feel this good.

… her music heroes:  My top three right now ? Ella Fitzgerald, another Virginia gal. Carol King, I’m really into her. I’m also learning a lot more about Karen Carpenter. I have always loved The Carpenters but I recently watched a couple of documentaries on them and she was a bad ass drummer, I didn’t realise how amazing she was at that. Her story is so tragic, she just wanted to be a drummer and she got pushed to the front.

… being a woman in the music industry: I think about this a lot. I think we are still struggling to be heard and taken seriously; the way I fight that is I do my thing and I’m strong and I keep going. I just don’t understand why it is still such a struggle to be equal.

… being a feminist: I’ve been saying (that I was a feminist) since I was a kid. I come from a traditional American family where my dad is the breadwinner and my mum stayed home with us. My mum is so funny and so smart but I feel like it is ingrained in her that she is not allowed to be those things and it has always been a struggle with me watching that but I know there is nothing I can do to change it, she comes from the baby boomer generation, so I guess watching that has made me want to be even stronger.

… giving advice to her younger self: ‘Take music lessons’. I really regret that. I’ve always played by ear, I get by but it would be nice if I could talk to my band how they talk to each other.
‘Pick up an electric guitar’. I didn’t even realise girls could play electric guitar until high school. I thought girls only played acoustic guitar and piano. I listened to Motown and those girls didn’t play anything.
I’d also say, ‘you’re awesome, do your thing, don’t be scared’.

… connecting with her fans:  I love playing shows where you can tell everyone is super connected sometimes I talk with a certain member of the crowd, we kind of play off of each other and that’s really fun. I’ll go out after the show and say hi and I’m really active on Twitter with people; if they ask me questions I’ll answer.

… what comes next: Touring until December. I love touring and performing but I’m eager to record and write again so January is just me time to create again. That is where my heart is.

Interview by Katy Vans

This article first appeared on BBC Love Festivals

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