THE BIGGEST THORN IN THE SIDE OF A BUDDING ARTIST IS THE REJECTIONS, ACCORDING TO 20-YEAR-OLD SINGER-SONGWRITER NATALIE SHAY.
July of this year saw north London Indie-Pop artist Natalie release her 6th single People Like Me. A catchy little number with a chorus you'd sing for days, the track vocalises the knock-backs suffered by those trying to make their impact in the fiercely competitive music industry. She tells me:
“Being in the music industry is so stressful. Everyone thinks we’re having a really good time but in reality it’s quite hurtful."
With this problem being such a big part of life as a musician, Natalie felt inspired to write a song that likened herself to other budding artists going through the same process. The lyrics highlight the ways they portray themselves to their followers on social media, giving the impression that life is all about success. As a result. fans assume life in the music industry is easy. Natalie believes artists prefer to paint this positive image in order to save face and cover up the embarrassment of rejection.
"When you look on social media you see all the happy posts showing gigs, travel and other exciting lifestyle habits. It's not all like that in reality. Singers never want to talk about the negatives, like the rejection emails or non success.”
Natalie talks me through how her latest track was created, during a studio session. She was handed a loop by her producer, downloaded to her mobile phone, and asked to write the lyrics. She'd penned the whole script in just one hour.
The People Like Me video shoot took place at a studio in Brixton and Natalie’s old school pal George did the camera work. The studio was set up to resemble a home with a messy bedroom and funky pink neon lighting; a style that may be typical to that of a young music student. The extras grooving and singing with Natalie in the video are friends through musical theatre.
The vision for the video was a seemless transition with no cuts. This was highly coordinated with assistants working skillfully to smoothly execute each scene.
“We spent the whole day rehearsing as everything had to be planned out second by second. We were meant to be out of there at 6pm, it got to 5pm and we hadn’t started filming yet! My producer wanted the whole thing is just one take, luckily we got it in the third.”
Natalie's People Like Me video has received masses of positive feedback and numerous social media shares. It's building steady momentum on You Tube with 20,000 views in just two months. You can watch the video, above!
The young singer never knew how tough the music industry could be until after leaving The BRIT School, which is a famous stage school known for its home-grown British stars including Adele and Amy Winehouse. After 4 years of musical theatre from the age of 14, Natalie's heart was firmly set on her lucky break so she chose to focus on making music instead University to study academia.
“I was working so hard to get myself out there at the start, writing emails to influential people in the music industry. I was getting lots of responses back saying "no thanks, it’s not for me." I would be so gutted, I couldn't understand why they didn't like my music. I'd always take the rejections personally until eventually I discovered that everybody else was in the same boat. Ultimately it's about finding the right team to champion your music and working with the right people for what you want to create."
Natalie, who is a very self-assured performer, is in high demand in the London musical scene. She features twice a year landing lead parts in shows such as Hairspray and Oliver. As well as musicals, Natalie plays her own music at big stage events, including Cornbury Festival which she played this summer with headliners Keane, The Specials and Beach Boys.
“People may watch me perform and think I’m arrogant because I’m very confident and like to show off on stage. I flick my hair and not everybody likes that but I’m not going to change my unique style.”
Arrogant she certainly is not, in fact Natalie is a very down to earth, unassuming young woman. In terms of lifestyle, she does not opitomise the average 20 year old, nor the average stage performer.
“Off stage I’m actually quite shy. I don’t live a rock n roll lifestyle, I never go out drinking. After gigs I just want to go home and go to bed!”
Keen to find out her dreams and aspirations, I ask Natalie where she wants to be in 10 years' time and her response is quite humble and heartwarming: she wants to make enough money from music to buy a family home, then get married and have children.
"I love kids, but two would be enough!”