Natalie Shay is an indie-pop artist hailing from North London. The multi-award-winning musician has established an ever-growing presence and loyal fanbase through her explosive live performances and unforgettable anthems, recognising her as one of the UK’s hottest emerging talents. Her relatable lyrics touch on love, self-discovery and the everyday experiences of a twenty-something.
Combining her youthful and charismatic aura with her classical training and time spent at the prestigious BRIT School, Shay has finessed the ability to produce undeniably catchy music, whilst maintaining a musical maturity. Compared to the likes of Haim, Little Comets and Fickle Friends, the Londoner has absorbed a similar energy and dynamic within her new music, resulting in a sound which oozes with passion and allure.
Tell us about the genesis of your project. How did you get to where you are now?
In short ; started playing classical guitar and doing musical theatre aged 5
saw taylor swift aged 11 and was like ‘damn i wanna do that’ – started writing songs
aged 13 started playing original music gigs aged 14 started at the BRIT School, whilst continuing music career outside of school released first song age 15 age 18 graduated BRIT, decided to do music full time, have been releasing, writing, performing ever since! Every year things grow and I meet and work with new people, i really enjoy it. I’m so happy I got to be able to do it!
How would you describe the highs and lows of being an artist?
It’s soooo up and down. changes 100 times a day for me, any rejection can set me off spiraling, yet one piece of good news can leave me flying high! I guess it’s one of the only industries where you spend everyday making something that is essentially ‘yourself’ and then spending months working out how to market it, so any rejection or negative feedback can be so personal like ‘oh you don’t like my song? well then you must not like me?! Why don’t you like me? 🙁 ‘ i have to try really hard to detach myself from it sometimes, it’s all such an emotional rollercoaster but strangely addictive..
What’s a musical guilty pleasure of yours?
I think the glee versions of a lot of songs are better than the originals … :p
What inspires you?
mainly emotion, in any capacity, i write from emotion rather than observation, i like to really feel the things i write and i guess writing is almost therapy to me, all of my songs are either written from personal experience or the experience of someone close enough to me that i could feel it.
Who is an artist that you look up to more than others today?
Taylor swift was my day 1- she probably will always be my biggest hero, she changed music, not just from her own music, but if you look at the entire wave of new strong solo female singer songwriters coming through now, that’s the first generation of teen swifties grown up, taylor inspired so many artists like me to start out!
Favorite activity to chill out?
im super into collecting bratz dolls at the moment lol, i’ve just hit 100 dolls, i love receiving a new one in bad condition and just spending a couple hours making her less gross and doing her hair, maybe a bit lame but i love it hahaha
Tell us about your latest release and how it came about
I really wanted to write about the way a relationship that ‘isn’t good’, isn’t always ‘totally bad’. Writing from personal experience, I like to document stages of my life and emotions I’ve felt through songwriting and lyrics. I was really struggling to find a way to express the thoughts and feelings I felt in this chapter of my life, however I really feel we encapsulated the entire story in this song.
I wanted to capture the essence of a bitter sweet relationship, the way – you know it’s bad for you, you know you can do better, but it’s not bad enough to make you want to leave, and the ‘highs’ of the romance are too good to walk away from.
What are some things you do to deal with anxiety and creative blocks?
Admittedly i haven’t had many creative blocks in a while, because ive been so bloody up and down emotional! as long as i am feeling things then i can write a song, its when things are stable and nothing particularly emotion provoking is happening that i really struggle to write!
Ways I deal with my own anxiety, I guess with writing! Ultimately the two for me go hand in hand, music is my release, if i can capture an emotion in a song or use an anxious episode to be creative then it actually really helps, even if it’s something I never plan on sharing with the world.
What’s the future looking like for you?
Hopefully fruitful! career wise, i only want to do music, so hopefully that takes me to cool places! life wise – i want kids, i aim to use this time now to learn and experience as much as possible so i can teach them lots 🙂
What inspires your visuals, videos, looks etc?
to be honest, my day to day image is very similar to my artist image, i think all of my looks have just been based around what i wear on the daily! my videos are mostly inspired by the songs themselves, i’ll send over references of other music videos ive liked in terms of set and stuff but the styling and concept is usually song dependant!
What is the most embarrassing memory and most proud moment of your career so far ?
Most embarrassing; i turned up to a gig in birmingham a day early :p
most proud, probably getting a shoutout from graham norton on the eurovision song contest when i was on the uk jury in 2018, loads of people messaged me after he said my name and i felt cool haha!
What is the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
super cliche, but to be true to yourself! i started doing music super young and (moreso when i was 13-18) was told a lot i needed to change my sound and image a lot, i never did because i am stubborn, now i am super glad i didn’t because everything i release is true to me! and that makes me love it more hehe
What are your views on the music and entertainment industry today?
I think ultimately the demand hasn’t gone away, and in fact this year has probably made people appreciate things more, I know I do, I’ve missed so much playing shows, even the small ones and attending musical events.
I think initially things will be crazy busy, there’s a ton of rescheduled shows to happen along with new shows and a ton of new artists ready to make their first ‘in person’ appearances, I’m really excited for the next year!