Today’s feature, September 24th & 25th: Natascha Sohl

September 24, 2007 at 10:50 am (Today's Feature)

Simply put, Natascha Sohl is the quintessential total package that most pop/rock female vocalists strive to be. She’s got the voice; she’s got the style, the talent and definitely the look. The UK-based bombshell understands the potential she holds, and is currently launching her attack on the American music charts with her sound that is best described as “Melodic Pop/Rock.”

Natascha realizes the music she produces is generally part of a male-driven genre, and takes in stride the fact that she has “all the boys to compete with.” She has however proven herself completely capable of holding her own, and her latest collection, “Dirty Little Word,” is just the latest example. The album, record with A-list producer and songwriter Russ Desalvo is aptly named – it contains that certain edge that so many rock/pop albums seem to lack in today’s scene, one that stands out even in a land dominated by male voices.

Natascha herself describes it as a “kick ass rock/pop album” with a “common thread” and “plenty to keep you entertained whatever mood you’re in.” Her hottest single off the record is called “Naked,” and it has been garnering attention everywhere (as you might imagine). When an artist like Sohl produces an album with hits like this, you know it’s a must buy. Keep an eye out for her upcoming music video for “Naked,” and be sure to check out her XXQs.

XXQs: Natascha Sohl PensEyeView.com (PEV): How and when did you first get started in music?

Natascha Sohl (NS): Well I’d always had a strong interest in music growing up and I did try and write a couple of little songs when I was about 8 but I don’t think that counts. I was 18 when I finally decided enough was enough and I should get myself into a band. It was a bit scary but I’d had enough of watching other people and wishing it was me, so I found a couple of guys and we started a band!

PEV: Born just outside Paris, and moving to the UK, what was the music scene like for you growing? How did that impact on your musical style?

NS: I moved to the UK when I was only 9 months old so I don’t remember anything about the music scene in Paris. When I was little my parents used to listen to a lot of Queen, the Police, Supertramp, Dire Straights and things like that so I was surrounded by good stuff. Growing up I listened to a lot of stuff like Alanis Morissette, Pearl Jam, Sheryl Crow, Matchbox 20, No Doubt, Lenny Kravitz, Incubus, so I’ve always kind of liked a bit of rock really. I still love all that stuff and I just really try to be open minded about music. Butch Walker, Ben Folds, John Mayer, Gavin DeGraw, Mooney Suzuki and the Foo Fighters are some of the stuff I listen to, who I think are amazingly talented. Anyone who I really think has a real talent and passion for what they do in their playing or performance or writing influences me, and these guys have definitely influenced me in my writing and performing as I’ve grown. I think you can hear some of them as influences in my music but generally I try to not sound too much like anyone else, but if comparisons are made with any of these guys I’m not gonna complain!

PEV: What do you see as a major difference between the European music scene and that here in the states?

NS: I think there’s quite a bit of difference in the scene. There seems to be a trend for under-produced buzz bands in the UK who have one or 2 great singles, but then you get really let down when you listen to the rest of the album. The male singer/songwriter thing is quite big at the moment in the UK too, which is cool. There are some bands and artists who sound great on the record but don’t quite seem to be able to pull it off live, which is shame… I think that’s quite a difference in the US. It seems that some musicians in the US are prepared to work a little bit harder coz the competition is so huge, whereas in the UK there seem to be a lot of people who think that if they can play 3 chords and sing a little bit then they’re a rockstar! I don’t think that’s everybody Ð there are a lot of greatly talented people that come out of the UK too who are amazing live and have obviously worked really hard to be where they are, so deserve all the luck in the world. In the UK there seems to be quite a quick turnover of artists and bands that’ll make some money for the record company on 1 single and then you hardly hear from them again. There doesn’t seem to be much longevity in the UK, whereas I think bands in the US tend to stick around for a little longer.

PEV: What was it like the first time you performed live and when was it?

NS: Scary! It was about 9 years ago… I was opening for 2 other bands who had all gigged a lot before and had all been together for years. My band had been together for about a month! We didn’t even have a name yet and we did 4 covers Ð Message In A Bottle by the Police, Little Wing by Jimi Hendrix and Weak and Charity by Skunk Anansie (they were a huge and awesome band in the UK). My boyfriend at the time was organizing the gig so I’d begged him to put us on the bill but I don’t think he was expecting much. Apart from the guys in my band I had never sang in front of anyone, so I was petrified! When we walked onto the stage I couldn’t even look at the audience – I was staring off to the right somewhere hoping that people would think we were OK! By the first chorus I suddenly I got a bit braver and realized that the whole room had gone silent and were watching us. We got a massive applause and some gaping mouths from friends and family who had no idea I could sing. I loved it, but I was still petrified and when we’d finished I literally ran off stage!

PEV: Tell us what it was like the first time you stepped into a recording studio? What was going through your head?

NS: Again, really nerve-wracking. It was doing something with people I didn’t know who had a whole lot more experience than I had at the time and I just really didn’t want to let myself or anyone else down. It was the first time I’d ever recorded any of my songs and it’s a very different feeling singing in a studio than singing live. Also hearing myself recorded for the first time was very strange Ð I didn’t know I sounded like that. I had my band with me which was cool; we recorded our first demo – I think it had 4 songs on it.

PEV: When you write music, what kind of element do you prefer to surround yourself in?

NS: It depends really. Sometimes a couple of lines will come to me in the middle of the night or when I’m out so I just scribble them down anywhere. I usually arrange writing sessions though with my producer or my guitarist so I have time to get myself in the right mindset to be creative. I just generally like to be somewhere that you know you’re not gonna have too many interruptions so I can get my ideas down. Usually we’ll record things as we go, even if really roughly so we don’t forget anything that we liked.

PEV: What can we expect from your forthcoming album – Dirty Little Word?

NS: A kick ass rock/pop album! I’m really proud of it and everyone involved worked really hard. The songs are all very different but there’s still a common thread running through all of the stuff, so there should be plenty there to keep you entertained whatever mood you’re in! It’s got a definite rock and edgy feel to it.

PEV: How is music on Dirty Little Word different from your previous projects and how tell us about the creative process behind it?

NS: It’s different because as I’ve grown and evolved as a songwriter and musician things are bound to change. I’m sure I’m inspired by different things, music, events in my life now than with the first record. There are always different events that affect you at the time, so most of the tracks are fairly personal to me. I have had more life experiences so have a bigger set of emotions and experiences to write about. I think musically and lyrically the record sounds more grown-up than previous projects I’ve worked on. It has a more American feel and has an edgy sound to it. The process was a fairly long one, only because I wasn’t based in the US and was working with people who are. I spent about a year flying back and forth from the UK to do writing sessions, write a few tracks, go home, come back to record a few tracks and write some more, go home, blah blah blah. That’s how it went really until it was done! I normally spent a couple of weeks in the US at a time and we’d get as much done as possible in the time. It was a great experience and I was working with some amazing people, so it was a lot of fun.

PEV: How is the music on Dirty Little Word different from other music out today?

NS: I think the difference is that I’m a UK artist with a US feel to the record. This is different from a lot of other music around at the moment, certainly in the UK. The type of music that I’m doing seems to be a very much male-driven genre, so I’ve got all the boys to compete with. It seems be a lot more acceptable for women to have a more rock edge in the US, but in the UK at the moment girls are mainly very pop, acoustic or jazz/soul. I have tried very hard to not fit into to any musical trends and fads…I prefer to write what comes naturally in my own style. That way I’ve ended up with a record that I can be truly proud of and hopefully a lot of people will relate to it.

PEV: Your latest single Naked, off Dirty Little Word, has been getting a lot of attention. Did you think that it would be doing as well as it already is when you first heard the final take?

NS: I loved the song straight away! I thought the chorus sounded like a smash so I hope it works out that way. It has been getting a lot of great response so I’m really pleased.

PEV: In all your travels, which city has been your favorite to perform in? And which offers the best atmosphere for music appreciation?

NS: I don’t know really – I pretty much like performing everywhere! I love playing London too because it’s pretty much my hometown. People love live music in London and it’s close enough that I can get friends to the gigs, which is always great. New York is a cool city to play because there’s such a lively music scene there Ð there are a million music venues scattered about and the people love finding new music! I don’t really know where the best appreciation at shows is… I think people loving music is pretty universal. People in the UK do tend to jump around a bit more though I think.

PEV: Who would you like to collaborate with that you haven’t had a chance to yet?

NS: Wow, probably a lot of people! I would love to work with Butch Walker in pretty much any of his capacities. I’m not fussy! He’s an amazing musician, writer, producer and performer Ð definitely someone I look up to Ð so if I could write with him, have him produce some tracks and then go on tour with him I’d be very happy. I’d also love to have the chance to work with Dave Grohl; he’s just so ridiculously talented. Pink’s a great singer – it would definitely be cool to do something with her. I think she has a great voice and amazing presence.

PEV: In your opinion, who is an artist that we should all be listening to now?

NS: Natascha Sohl!!!

PEV: What’s something we’d be surprised to hear about Natascha Sohl?

NS: I used to want to be a bunny girl Ð before I really knew what that meant. And a mermaid.

PEV: How have your friends and family reacted to your success?

NS: They’ve been amazingly supportive. I’m very lucky. My family is very involved and love music, which is great for me. I have some amazing friends who are so supportive and excited for me and are always there when I need them, and understand that my life takes me away sometimes. You know you have great friends when it doesn’t matter how long you don’t see them for, they’re always the same and you just pick up from where you left off.

PEV: What can people expect from a live Natascha Sohl show?

NS: To have a great time and hear some awesome music! I have an amazing band who kick ass so the show will be tight and loud and fun. I generally like to talk a lot of rubbish and try to get the audience involved too, so be prepared to jump and sing and clap and shake what you got!

PEV: How has life on the road and touring been for you? What is the best and worst part about “road life”?

NS: It’s great! I like it a lot, you get to go to all sorts of different places and play all sorts of different venues so there’s lots of variety! Playing is one of the best parts of the job Ð rocking out with my band is so much fun, especially when the audience is great and really getting into the set. It’s a really good feeling when you have people come up to you after a show and they just wanna say hello because they’ve had a great time. The bad bits are probably living out of a suitcase, so having to pack light (not easy for a girl!) and it’s hard to wash your clothes! Touring is a lot of fun most of the time so I try not to complain too much. The worst thing was when we stayed at this dive motel and I found three bugs in my bed. I wasn’t really going to sleep anywhere else, though at 4am, so I had to share.

PEV: What do you miss most about the UK?

NS: Friends and family really, and my house and just being able to chill out, make a mess and cook in my own kitchen!!

PEV: In one word, what best describes Natascha Sohl?

NS: Rockstar!!

PEV: So, what is next for Natascha Sohl?

NS: I’m just about to shoot a video for Naked which I’m really excited about. Making videos is fun. The director had some great ideas and has done amazing work in the past so that’s pretty exciting. Apart from that I’m just busy spreading the word. Trying to get out there as much as I can really Ð in every way possible.

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