Now and then, The Other Side Reviews likes to collaborate with other fantastic writers, promotion companies, blogs, whatever, to bring good music to your ears. Here we have Marie Donnici, a junior publicist at The Marketing Mixtape, interviewing the genre-bending emerging artist, Natalie Claro. Only eighteen years old, Natalie has captivated audiences across the US. Chatting about everything from fan experiences, self-production and causes close to her heart – here is what Natalie (and Marie) had to say.
MD: When did you begin songwriting, and what inspired you to start?
NC: I’ve been writing songs since I was in kindergarten, but those were, well, kindergarten songs. Actual good ones? Probably around 8th grade. The oldest song I have released is ‘Shower of Roses’, and I wrote it when I was fourteen. I’m not particularly sure what inspired me to begin writing if I’m being honest. That’s the one thing I can say has always been instinctual. I was born, and it was just kinda like, ‘alright, where do we start’.
MD: How would you describe your sound?
NC: Everything? Seriously? Listen to my album; I can’t even stick to one genre! I’ve stopped calling myself ‘alternative’ because, at this point, most music you hear nowadays is being called that despite such a variety of sounds created under the title. I’d say that my music is just me. It’s everything I love about music – expression. It’s rock, it’s R&B, it’s bluesy, it’s pop, it’s not pop, it’s folky, it’s heavy. It’s loud, it’s quiet, it’s full again, it’s acoustic, it’s going at 800 miles per hour, but also wavering as calm as possible. It’s belting with passion, and it’s whispering softly. It’s one long infinite spectrum that just explodes in unforeseen directions. It’s artistic vomit, but it’s vomit I recommend.
MD: Which artists inspire you?
NC: Michael Jackson has been my #1 since I was nine years old. The Jackson 5 was my entire childhood. Then there’s Hayley Williams. Wow! That woman is so goddamn powerful! She’s the reason I do music today. I saw her live for the first time in 2014 on Paramore and Fall Out Boy’s tour, and she mesmerised me. I wanted to be up on the stage with her. Other artists I love are Stevie Wonder, Twenty One Pilots, Amy Winehouse, Lady Gaga, Queen, Cage The Elephant, Rihanna, P!nk and Zella Day.
MD: Can you tell us a bit about the meaning behind the title of your debut album, Disconnect?
NC: This album is a story, with every song interlocking in a crucially specific order. ‘Disconnecting’, in this sense, means to part ways with a previous world of inauthenticity and insecurity. The first half of my album are songs that represent the confusion and frustrations I felt before I went through a ‘disconnect’. One day I woke up and decided I would no longer compare myself to other people or try to fit in along with them. I wanted to embrace who I was without a hint of concern for how it may be perceived, and let me tell you, it’s the most liberating feeling in the world; that’s what my song ‘Remain Inside the Cage’ is about.
Right after the interlude halfway through my album, ‘Remain Inside The Cage’ represents the first gasp of air into this lifestyle I had never experienced. I basically use this project to say whether you’re black or white, gay or straight, thin or curvy, quiet and collected or loud and spontaneous, you deserve to feel confident in who you are. I want the whole world to know that if anyone ever tries to make you feel less worthy of a human because of what makes you, YOU, then shut them out and show them who’s boss! Maybe they’ll be so envious of your happiness that they’ll follow in your footsteps – the pursuit of embracing individuality. Accomplish your dreams in your most comfortable skin.
MD: I’m sure your music career has been full of many ‘firsts’! Is there one ‘first’ that stands out to you as a memorable experience?
NC: MY FIRST MOSH PIT!! Holy cow, it was the last thing I expected. I end most of my shows with ‘Mountains’, and while it’s an extremely upbeat song, it’s acoustic vibes are the last thing you would expect to induce a mosh pit; but there I was, watching ten to twenty dudes and gals slamming into each other and punching. From then on, moshes have been a consistent trend at a Natalie Claro show. It’s required.
MD: I understand you’re in the midst of a three-year stretch of non-stop touring – that must be exciting! How did your decision to start touring come about? What keeps you inspired on tour?
NC: It went as quickly as I’m about to type it out. My mom said, ‘Natalie, how would you feel about moving out of our house and living out of our car so you can tour?’. I said, ‘What??’. Her response was, ‘Great, ’cause our lease is up in a month, and that’s what we’re doing’. So, here we are. My family is badass.
What keeps me inspired on tour is constantly being in new scenery. It’s invigorating to experience every major city.
MD: What do you hope fans experience when they attend your shows?
NC: A high without any drugs, and maybe me screaming at them. Everyone must feel my wrath at least once per show. Afterwards, we can hug and talk about cute things.
MD: What is something your fans might be surprised to know about you?
NC: I hide my emotions well. While I’m overall a very happy person, I have a lot of turmoil that I’m constantly fighting that I try not to disclose because I’m professional. I don’t want to seem like I’m trying to use angst to be marketable. Not that doing so is bad because, honestly, it’s really good to share a bond with your audience on similar struggles. I guess I just would feel awkward about it.
I hate being victimising, but the truth is, being young and constantly working to achieve a certain thing can be really isolating. I have very few close friends and I rarely ever get to see them because I’m never in one place for more than a week or two. I’m also an only child, so having a connection with people my own age is pretty much impossible. The weirdest thing? I wouldn’t change any of it. I love music, and I love what I get to experience. Me, myself and I.
MD: What are your goals in the next few years? In the long term?
NC: I want to be the opening act for other band’s tours again. A lot of bands complain about being an opener, but I absolutely love it. The challenge of reeling in people who may have never heard you is thrilling. I know this doesn’t sound long term, but it’s a huge commitment and an amazing way to reach new people.
MD: Rumour has it you produce your own music. Is it true and if it is, can you tell us about your process for production?
NC: Oh honey, it ain’t no secret! I make sure EVERYONE knows I produce my own songs. Why? Because before I made it crystal clear, people always assumed I didn’t. Nope! This artistic vomit is MINE! My process is to lay out what message I’m trying to convey and get annoyingly emotional. I can’t write lyrics unless I’m in that deep state, then I whip out my phone and use the Garage Band to make some demos. It’s oddly effortless by that point because as soon as I complete the base of my song, I can practically hear the completed project in my mind. The rest is just making it a reality. Lastly, I go to the studio and crank out all the final instrumentation whether it’s playing out the live drums or laying down all the vocal harmonies.
MD: What are some of the issues or causes you care about most, and how is your music career helping to advance these?
NC: Whoa. This one’s hard; there are endless things I want to contribute to in this world and picking a priority is stressful. I honestly want enough money to be able to chuck it at situations that desperately need it. To do things such as what Lebron James did with his newly built public school. I want to evaporate the Flint water crisis or give opportunities to hardworking people who don’t have certain privileges and advantages that others were fortunate enough to be born with. I want to create an organisation that makes health care easier for families struggling to afford it. So many sick little kids can’t get the proper treatment they need to survive just because medical bills are a nightmare.
I don’t know, honestly. Thinking about what I can’t do quite yet makes me anxious, but what I do know is that I want to make money by doing what I love. I can’t exude positivity if I’m not experiencing it, ya know?
MD: What is your biggest hope for your music and the people who hear it?
NC: One day I want to be eighty years old sitting on a balcony in Paris knowing that I existed in whatever the hell this life is and made a good impact along the way. Even if they were small, hopefully, they’ll be monumental.
This interview was written by Marie Donnici, a junior publicist with The Marketing Mixtape. For more information about the company, please visit their official website at www.themarketingmixtape.com.