Interview: Natalie Duncan.
(An edited version of this interview originally appeared in the Nottingham Evening Post. Natalie wasn’t exactly the most forthcoming of interviewees – the words “blood” and “stone” spring to mind – but she’s talented, and local, and I wish her well.)
I saw you supporting the Portico Quartet at the Malt Cross back in February, and really enjoyed your set. You had some technical problems, but despite that you still got a great reaction.
Yeah, the band didn’t turn up, because we couldn’t fit them all in [on the Malt Cross’s small mezzanine stage]. But I thought it went quite well. It was just me on my own, which was unusual. It is a nice stage – especially when I get to play on the piano, because I’m quite hidden then.
What’s your usual line-up on stage?
It’s me on piano, with Ben Martin on saxophone, Roger Jepson on cello, a flute player, bass and drums. I’ve just got a new bassist and drummer – it’s been about two weeks, I think – but we’ve already done two gigs, at the Jam Café and The Hub.
How often do you get to play out?
Recently I’ve had quite a few gigs, but normally I’d say a couple of times a month or so.
Have you done any out of town dates?
I did a couple in London, but that maybe a year ago now. There’s none coming up, but it is a priority. I’d like to do more out of town gigs, definitely.
How long ago was your [just released] debut EP recorded?
A few months ago. There are four tracks with the band, and then one with just me and piano. They’re all original compositions. The lead track is Joe, which I wrote quite a long time ago. It’s about a pimp, and it’s about prostitution. It’s quite a dark song.
I’m laughing, because my next question was going to be: are your songs based on personal experience?
That one wasn’t, definitely! Most of them are, but that one’s quite abstract.
When performing, are you baring your deepest, darkest soul to us – or do you adopt an onstage persona?
Most of it is me and my experience and my feelings, but there are one or two songs which I’ve made up. Just adopting a persona, like you say.
Do your songs come quickly to you, or do they take a long time to evolve?
Normally I go through periods of writing, so they do come quite quickly. I normally finish them within an hour or two.
Are you going through a creative phase at the moment?
I am, yeah. I’m writing quite a bit at the minute.
In terms of musical influences, who would you look to?
A band called Cocorosie, definitely. I love them. Aretha Franklin vocally, and also Nina Simone and Billie Holiday.
What do you make of the local music scene in Nottingham?
It is brilliant: friendly and supportive, and everyone knows each other. I think that’s the only problem with it, because it doesn’t seem to expand as much as it could. It’s quite in its own little circle.
So is this something you’re doing primarily for fun, or are you looking to make a full time living from music?
I’m definitely looking to make a career out of it in the future. That would be my dream, I guess.
Natalie Duncan’s EP is out now on Farmyard Records. Natalie is currently working on her debut album. You can listen to her at myspace.com/betweenthekeys.