Don't stay confined in a box. Have faith that what you're doing will only get bigger.
Natalie: I started working on music my first year in college. When I started music, it wasn't really something that I thought I would be doing professionally. I sang in church in Anguilla. I liked going to the studio. It was just fun for me to do. Go to the studio. Record. Listen to my music. But then I realized that this could actually be something more, and my manager kept pushing me and would tell me all the time that I didn't see my true potential, and at the time I would just laugh. My last year of college is when everything started coming together. I was recording more, and when I played songs for people, their reactions would be crazy. I was like "Wow, maybe I should do this."
Tell me more about the Black Jetty Project.
The Black Jetty Project is a conglomeration of producers, songwriters and artists. We're not an established label, but I'm signed to them as an artist. The producers are called The Black Notes. Denecia Niles, who's a singer-songwriter, wrote my song "Perfect." I'm also starting to write now.
It's crazy. I knew people would like the song, but I didn't know so many people would like the song. When I get responses from people in the UK and France that heard my song, I can't believe it. I went to an event last night and met some girls from the Bahamas and they told me they saw the video on YouTube and loved it. I guess I'm so accustomed to hearing my own voice that it just doesn't sound that spectacular to me, but I'm growing to appreciate it (laughs).
Your first single "Perfect" is a neo-soul record. It's definitely a refreshing sound coming out of Anguilla. What attracted you to this genre rather than traditional Caribbean music?
I actually like different. I like being different. I used to sing back up for a local soca artist in St. Thomas for carnival while I lived there so I initially told my manager I wanted to sing soca, but she told me to listen to what they have first. It's not soca. It's R&B. It's pop. It's EDM. I sat in the studio and listened to the beats and the vibes alone made me want to just go and record. I loved the fact that it was different, and they knew the sound was different, and that's what we wanted to go for. I have thought about soca, but the goal is to get our music out there and outside of the Caribbean, and we can eventually start to fuse soca and calypso into what we do.
I read a quote this morning that said, "Explanation kills art," and it was funny to me because it's cool to have people look at it and not realize it took six weeks and a lot of headache to shoot that video. My team and I basically winged it. We didn't have a set plan. We didn't have a storyline. We wanted it to be very natural, and it all just happened very organically. My cousin produced the video. I told him that I wanted to shoot a video in December, and we shot for two days, two nights in a warehouse because that was the vision at first, and we didn't even use any of that material. It's nowhere in the video. The next day, he wanted something different. He showed us a picture of this bonfire pit built out of sand. My team built it and dug it out with shovels for hours, and we shot there the first night. The next day, it was gone, and we still had to shoot some more so they had to rebuild it. Even with the pool scene, I sat in a pool for five hours straight. Some days, the sunset wasn't right and the lighting was off so we couldn't shoot. It was a lot of work, but I'm actually very proud of myself. It's my first video, and I didn't expect it to look this good. Teamwork makes the dream work.
I found out shortly after I released "Perfect." The promoter hit me up and told me they wanted me for the show. He's from Anguilla and saw it as an opportunity for me to get more exposure, and I appreciate that people see my talent and want to invest in it. About a year ago, if all of this were happening, I would have shied away from the big stage, but now people ask me if I'm nervous, and I may get nervous the same day, but I'm excited. I can't wait to show people it's not just studio work and that I can sing. I prepare right here in my living room dancing around the house and trying out new moves. I have a new song that I'm also going to be singing that night. It's EDM. It's pop. It's different from "Perfect" so I can't wait to see the reaction.
Can you give us a sneak peak into your creative process for your EP The Landing Stage? What's the significance behind the name?
I look at it as I'm outside of this world, and it's my time to land and show people what I'm about. This is my landing stage. This is my arrival into the music industry. There is one song that I'll be performing that talks about what The Black Jetty Project is and what we're coming to do. I'm more involved in the next project that's coming out because I'm just understanding the creative process and how it works because like I said, it was just fun for me at first. I'm learning about my voice and how it works. It's definitely a growing process that I'm going through right now.
There are so many outlets out there. Put your song on YouTube. You can sing 15 seconds of a song and put it on Instagram, and somebody will hear it. You can release a song on Soundcloud. Take that leap of faith. Take opportunities when they come to you. They don't always come back. You have no idea what could happen. I want people to see that I'm from a small island too with limited opportunities and limited resources. I'm not signed to a major record label and finances aren't really there. I put out a music video with no money. Use what you have. My manager, Rebecca Webster, is my cousin. My foundation is family and friends.
Being from Anguilla, a lot of people think it's impossible. They think your music won't reach outside of the small islands. There are still people that tell me certain things, but I have to mentally stay strong. There are moments when I have doubt, but I can't let that overwhelm me. Don't stay confined in a box. Have faith that what you're doing will only get bigger.
Anything else you want to add?
It's important to focus on your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. It's very easy to make one wrong move and all of this is gone. I'm growing and learning every day. I have such a strong support system so even when I make mistakes, I can't think for one second that I'm going to give up, but you have to make sure your mind is right and get it in your mind that you're an artist now. It's still weird when people look at me in that light. I like to think of myself as modest and humble, but it's a transformation and a process that I know I will master.