The gifted former lead singer of Daughter Darling, Natalie Walker is the kind of artist PensEyeView was built for – a naturally gifted vocalist who grabs the spotlight for all of the right reasons. There’s no gimmick here, no wacky stunts, nothing pathetic. Walker isn’t successful because of the people she knows (like so many 1-hit wonders), but because of what she knows. “I’m a singer and it’s my art. I’m not looking for a quick fix making music that will be pushed aside 6 months from now when the next cool thing comes along.”
The proof is in her 2006 debut “Urban Angel” and her latest record, the sophomore album “With You.” While the material is fresh, the new collection doesn’t ignore what made Angel such a success; receiving sparkling reviews from respected outlets such as Billboard, Urb, Trace and All Music Guide. It simply builds on it, adding more layers of pop aroma and mixing in heavier, earthier tones at times. There’s more of a personal vibe on this album as well, something you’d expect from the now more experienced Walker – even more capable and diving within and accurately describing what she finds.
Her live show, much like some of her music, is both “upbeat and mellow;” a real experience. She’ll be out and about on either side of the nation supporting the sophomore effort, so take advantage and tap into a show. You’ll find out first hand exactly why Walker isn’t disappearing any time soon. Learn more about the talented singer and “With You” below in the XXQ’s.
XXQs: Natalie Walker
PensEyeView.com (PEV): Tell us, how did you first jump into the music industry? Was music always an instant passion for you?
NW: I started a band in HS when I was 16 and have been writing music ever since. Before that, I was always obsessed with singing and writing poetry but didn’t put the two together until I found a couple of guys who were into writing with me.
I’ve been connected to music and singing for as long as I can remember. I learned how to sing very, very soon after I learned how to speak.
PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?
NW: I remember being about 7 and walking through a grocery store parking lot with my cousin and telling him that I was going to be ‘famous’ someday. I think he was confused because no one knew I actually could sing at the time. I have always felt it deep down…it’s like music chose me. Not the other way around.
PEV: What kind of music were you listening to growing up?
NW: A lot of bluegrass, classical, Gregorian chants even. I was totally obsessed with listening to classical music and ‘conducting’ with a chopstick in my room in front of the mirror. It felt so powerful and moving.
In Middle school I discovered a lot of other random artists like Green Day, The Beastie Boys, Alanis Morrisette, Mariah Carey, Starflyer 59, Silverchair, TLC, En Vogue, Boyz II Men…I should stop, shouldn’t I?
High school was the floodgates opening for me. I listened to everything from Allison Krauss to the Deftones, At the Drive in to Bjork, NIN & Radiohead, Literally everything I could get my hands on I would listen to.
PEV: What has been the hardest part about breaking into the music industry?
NW: Learning patience and getting thick skin.
PEV: Tell us about your creative process… What kind of environment do you have to be in to write music? Is there a certain “method” or “science” to your writing?
NW: I usually will come up with lyrics for a song when I am in the car driving which is always a massive pain in my ass because I have to keep repeating the words over and over until I can pull over and write them down. I will also usually come up with lyrics while in bed about to fall asleep which is also a pain. I keep a notepad by my bed so I can jot stuff down quickly. If I don’t jot it down right away, it’s gone.
There is no method. It’s always random but when it happens it’s generally really good. I can’t force it ever.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Natalie Walker performance?
NW: The live show has a gorgeous balance now of upbeat and mellow. There’s something for everyone in the live set and yes that includes crowd surfing and a decent mosh pit…and an all you can eat buffet.
Seriously though, our live show kicks ass.
PEV: Tell us about your first live performance. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?
NW: We won’t talk about that right now. Lets just say things are a little better. Practice makes (nearly) perfect.
PEV: What can fans expect from your sophomore album, “With You”?
NW: They can expect some really delicious new flavors in the start of the album and then about halfway through it moves on to the more familiar taste of my recent works.
PEV: How is “With You” different from your first solo album, 2006’s “Urban Angel”?
NW: It’s a bit more daring and fun. Not so serious throughout.
PEV: How would you describe your sound? In a thick and talented industry, what is your secret to standing out?
NW: This is a tough question to answer. I think everyone wants to come up with a secret crazy recipe to stand out in such a saturated industry. I’m afraid people have lost sight of true talent though. It’s tempting to try and come up with some sort of gimmick or something that’s totally off the hook but in all honesty it’s not my style. I would never feel comfortable on a stage doing something totally off the wall.
I’m a singer and it’s my art. I’m not looking for a quick fix making music that will be pushed aside 6 months from now when the next cool thing comes along. Good, solid singers have long and productive careers.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
NW: How about 3 things? I am afraid of the ocean, heights and throwing up.
PEV: What one word best describes Natalie Walker?
PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?
NW: I wouldn’t say ‘life on the road’. I really prefer living at home near my family so I plan carefully when I tour. When we are on the road its divine and so much fun. There are frustrating moments but such is life. We meet so many wonderful and kind people and I’m honored to be out and about when I can be.
PEV: In all your travels, which has been your favorite city to play (US or International)?
NW: I’ve got so much more of the world to see before I can really answer this but so far I’ve really loved playing NYC. I’m so lucky to live so close to NY. I also really enjoyed Boulder, CO.
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?
NW: Everyone is really supportive and cool. I’m pretty sure that most of them were puzzled by my choice to pursue music but it helped a lot when my music started actually popping up on TV and radio. Then they were like “ohhhhh ok, so this is good. She’s not bullshitting.” PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
NW: You would find me at the park down the street eating a water ice, in my kitchen cooking up something AWESOME, driving around fishtown in my neon green Porsche.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for?
NW: Santagold is nailing it right now. And he’s not up-and-coming (he’s one of the most respected DJ’s out there) but doesn’t get enough love in my opinion. King Britt is incredible. He’s so talented and one of the nicest people in Philly.
PEV: What’s been the craziest reaction from a fan you’ve ever had?
NW: People generally behave. I would be a terrible one to stalk or do something crazy to. I’m lucky to have cool people who are into my music. There’s no reason to get psycho over an artist. We’re just people making music.
If someone acts crazy I just try to make it a point to be super down to earth which is how I am anyway so it’s not difficult. If it ever came down to real crazy though, which it hasn’t, I would need to throw down a bit. I am after all, a Philly girl. No nonsense allowed in my corner.
PEV: Ten years down the road, where will Natalie Walker be?
NW: Still making music and you will still be listening.
PEV: So, what is next for Natalie Walker?
NW: To try to take over the world. But first, get my ass to bed. It’s late.
For more information on Natalie Walker, check out www.myspace.com/nataliewalkermusic