[Q&A] Natalie Shay Combines Classic and Modern Elements in ‘NAKED’

Photo Credit: James Ripley (@jamess.ss.s)

By Alissa Arunarsirakul // April 27, 2020

One of North London’s greatest offerings is Natalie Shay, a pop star in the making destined for success. The 21-year-old crafts vulnerable discography about relationships and everyday experiences that everyone–regardless of age–can resonate with. Although we could keep raving about Shay’s stellar music, you can hear it for yourself with her fantastic new EP, NAKED.

On NAKED, Natalie Shay reflected,

“I love authentic 80s synth and drum sounds but I also love modern pop vocal lines and effects. And of course, lots of guitars. I try to include a flavor of each of those things in my music. It was very important to me that all of the songs had their own unique stamp and vibe, but still all fitted and worked together under the same project.”

To celebrate the release of her new music, we recently chatted with Natalie Shay about relationships, Taylor Swift, and of course, NAKED.

HH: We first discovered you when you released “Yesterday” last year, and it’s safe to say you’ve grown significantly since then. How would you say you’ve evolved as a musician and individual in the past year? 

NS: I’ve definitely evolved. I’m much more sure of my sound and brand. And much more as a person. I definitely feel much more comfortable and confident in my own skin and releasing an EP has taught me so much about my work and releasing. I say experience is life’s greatest teacher.

HH: An impressive collection of five compelling tracks, NAKED seamlessly combines musical elements of the 80s and modern day pop. Which artists inspire your timeless sound? 

NS: I do love Taylor Swift. Production wise, I’ve always been heavily inspired by HAIM. I love how interesting the production is; anything that you pick up more the more times you listen is what I find inspiring. Stuff that can be identified by unique production sounds not just the song itself.

HH: The title track and “Not The Girl” both thematically revolve around relationships. Now that you’re in a different phase of life, would you say your past relationships have actually made you into a better and smarter person?

NS: Definitely! I’ve never really regretted any relationship in any capacity. I really see every relationship and friendship as an experience and a lesson and chapter of my life. I learn from everyone I get close to and I’m really fascinated by people in general, haha.

HH: We’re genuinely obsessed with the surprising brass elements in “Owe It to You.” What led to you adding these instrumentals? 

NS: I always wanted to try different instrumentation. I generally have only used instruments we saw that we could easily create live but with the EP I wanted to branch out and if that means adding a brass player into the live show then why the hell not!

HH: NAKED really does strip you down to your emotional core as you open your heart to your listeners. Was the writing process liberating for you at all?

NS: Yeah, definitely. I love when I’ve secured a melody and it’s time to lyric it. My mind gets flooded with ideas and my favorite part of writing is creating verses out of my feelings whilst still trying to make them rhyme. I really take pride in my verses especially; I hope that’s apparent to the listener.

HH: If you could have anyone in the music industry as a mentor, who would you pick?

NS: Taylor Swift.

HH: What are your three hidden hits?

NS: “Red Wine” – Lacuna J
“I Don’t Like You But I Love You” – Clean Cut Kid
“Afterglow” – Grum (ft. Natalie Shay) xxxxx

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