19 year old, British singer/songwriter, Natalie Holmes is set to release an EP in January 2013. Having just supported Lewis Watson on his UK tour, we thought Fortitude should catch up with Natalie and find out what we should be expecting next!
Natalie, you’ve been writing and playing music for quite a while now; when did you realise you could sing? Was it from an early age?
Yeah I’ve been singing since before I can even remember! However, I was never confident enough to put things up on Youtube, until a friend heard me singing at a party when we were messing around with some guitars, and persuaded me that I HAD to put something up, and (after a lot of persuasion), I did.
You also play guitar and piano; did you have lessons in these or are you self-taught?
I’ve had piano lessons since I was little, and have grown up learning it through a classical technique. However, I always messed around with chords and stuff on the side and found I was quite good at just improvising, so that’s when I started writing songs I guess.
I’ve never had a guitar lesson, but started teaching myself when my brother got his first guitar and started learning. It was this big classical guitar with nylon strings but I didn’t even know the difference between that and an acoustic back then! I started trying to learn from his books, but gave up and just looked up chord positions on the internet.
You’ve released two digital albums- ‘Shooting Zombies’ and ‘Goodmorning Sleepyhead’, to which the response was extremely positive. Did you expect such a reaction?
I really didn’t! The main reason I recorded ‘Shooting Zombies’ was because I had so many songs that I just wanted to record and have somewhere as a record, hence why it has 17 songs on it, and they’re not exactly professionally produced (at the time I thought they sounded amazing and was well chuffed!).
However, I carried on messing around with Logic and getting better at production until I decided to release a more carefully thought over album, with less tracks and more time spent on it, resulting in ‘Goodmorning Sleepyhead’. Of course now times moved on AGAIN and I spend all my time thinking I could do a better job if I did it again now.
So yeah, I guess I didn’t expect the support I got for ‘Shooting Zombies’ at all, because at the time I had a much smaller following than I do now, and I didn’t use iTunes or anything like that. I’d just whacked it up as a free download on Bandcamp, and when people started donating money for it rather than getting it for free, I was overwhelmed! I was surprised at the support for ‘Goodmorning Sleepyhead’ too.
Obviously this time, I had more of a following than the half a year before, and had put more thought into the release, but it was still just something I’d done in my bedroom on my own and was in no way professional; I was amazed at the support I got from people!
When you’re writing songs, where do you get the inspiration for your lyrics? Do you tend to write about personal experiences more than anything else?
Usually from personal experiences, yes. Sometimes they’re deep, sometimes they’re about light-hearted things, but usually they’re deep, ha!
I do try every now and then to write from somebody else’s perspective to give variety to my writing. It’s more difficult in some ways, as you don’t know exactly how they’re feeling, but also easier for the same reason, because you can be flexible and aren’t forced to keep to the story, word for word.
Which artists do you look up to, or feel influenced by mainly?
Mostly YouTube artists, as I’ve watched them grow from being how I started out, to these amazing musicians and song-writers who are making music into their career, and it’s incredible!
However, I think most singer-songwriters today would have to say Ed Sheeran is a major inspiration, for getting to where he is now with no more resources than we have – Just pure determination!
Have you done any collaborations with many people?
Not a huge amount. I’ve done a few covers with people on YouTube, but as far as collaborating with other songwriters to write songs, I’m pretty inexperienced.
However I’ve done a lot of co-writing at my college over the past year and a bit, and I’m trying to organize co-writes more now because it’s such a good way to develop your songs, and your writing skills. I always had this grudge against co-writing, because I found the idea of having to tell people if you don’t like their idea really awkward.
However, now I know you just have to get over yourself and try every idea that’s given to you, because there’s a good chance it’s the one thing your song needs.
Are there any upcoming artists, or Youtube stars that you think deserve more recognition, or that you’d like to give a mention to?
One artist that I’ve been LOVING recently is Bessie (her surnames Hildick-Smith, but I think she’s just going by the name Bessie now as her artist name). Her voice is like honey, seriously.
She recently released an EP called ‘Chemicals’ with some awesome songwriting on it. You can find Bessie here: YouTube.
The other person would be Tom Crouch. His talent is beyond anything I’ve seen and it all just seems to get sucked up into the YouTube black hole, and he needs to be heard. You can find Tom here: YouTube.
You’ve done a few gigs recently; do you get nervous when you’re about to play live?
I’m pretty good for nerves now. I’ve done so many performances over the past few years that the nerves seem to have gone to a minimum. I don’t get nervous at all when I do little bar gigs and stuff- no matter how many people are there, because more often than not, you’re just background music.
However I’ve done a few bigger shows, for example supporting Katie Sky, Kate McGill and Lewis Watson, where the audiences are much bigger and ALL LISTENING TO YOU. Now that is when the nerves come! Even so, I’m only ever nervous for the best part of half a song, and after that I’ve relaxed and am fine.
Finally, do you have any major plans for the next year or so? Any gigs or new releases coming up?
I wish SO much I could be organising and promoting gigs for myself in the near future, but being at uni means I don’t really have time, and I don’t have a manager to do these things for me.
However I am planning my next release in January, which for the first time will be released on iTunes. It will be an EP called ‘The Simplest Things’. I’m really looking forward to it!
Natalie, thank you so much for that interview. I look forward to hearing the new EP!
Don’t forget Natalie’s two albums- ‘Shooting Zombies’ and ‘Goodmorning Sleepyhead’ are also available to buy at http://www.natalieholmes.co.uk/