Very rarely do you come across souls that translates into song. Very rarely do you find someone who speaks to you on vibrational levels, without even being near them. Very, very rarely, do you find someone whose name fits their aura, but we might just be the luckiest girls on the block to have come across Natalie Royal. The Nashville singer-songwriter jazzed her way into our ears alongside the Very Hypnotic Soul Band one warm summer night and we aren't ashamed to say it was love at first note. We were lucky enough to get Ms. Royal to let us pick her brain about her creative process and who’s the lady behind the guitar. Check it out below!
Who is Natalie Royal and when did you fall in love with your art?
Ooo I like this question, although the first part is a bit difficult to answer. I'm Natalie Royal - a creative; an optimist; an ENFJ with a pocketful of dreams and a whole life ahead of me to chase them. I've been faced with a mess of both ups and downs in life, but I know I'm not alone in this. Everyone has a story, right?
I've had a passion for music since I was in my carseat, singing along to Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss cassette tapes (incorrectly), while my mom drove me to and fro running errands. Soooo maybe 3 years old? But I think the moment it truly "clicked" was around 11 years old -- when I sat down and wrote my first song with my guitar. I remember the feeling of complete independence. I had created a work of art - melody, lyrics, accompaniment - entirely on my own. There aren't really words to describe this feeling.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I've never really thought about this, but I do! Before each show, I have to find somewhere quiet to just be alone for at least a minute or two. I picture myself on the stage, I picture the audience in front, and then I erase every single one of them until I'm alone in the venue. I have to remind myself that I'm about to perform for an audience, but I'm also doing something for myself. When I'm on stage, I'm my most vulnerable self, and this minute or two of alone time beforehand allows me to relax and let the audience in.
Fun fact side note: I don't really drink while I'm playing, but I do like to have a solid 1 1/2 Yuenglings right before.
What artists outside of musicians do you want to create with. What would you create?
Awesome question. I'm going to start with Joe Webb (not to be confused with the Carolina Panthers' football player). Webb is a visual artist who uses vintage magazines to create simple, yet captivating collages. I drew a lot of inspiration for the cover and design of my latest album cover ("Harbinger") from his artwork, and I would love to collaborate with him one day. You can see Webb's work here: http://www.joewebbart.com/
Another artist I'd love to work with would be Kahlil Gibran, author of "The Prophet". This piece of literature is one that I turn to frequently for songwriting inspiration as well as just every day guidance. I've gifted "The Prophet" to more people in my life than I can count, because it's been such a beautiful work of art. Unfortunately, Gibran passed away in 1931, so we won't be doing any collaborating in this lifetime. But if we did, I'd love to write a song with him.
What is your writing process like?
I am a "melody first, lyrics second" kind of writer for the most part. I have a plethora of melodies recorded on my phone (usually ones I've come up with in the car), and I'll turn to these when the inspiration strikes. Some of these melodies will most likely never be heard, and that's okay. I'll never delete them (which is probably why my phone is constantly full...)
Occasionally, the "perfect storm" song comes along -- one that just flows out of me, lyrics and melody at the same time. This type of song is usually my favorite, because I can't explain it, and it feels like magic is somehow involved.
What are your top five albums this year?
Ooo this is a hard one. I'll just go with the ones I know I've listened to the most over the last year, but there are way more where these came from:
Has there been a song too personal to write? How did you get the courage to perform it?
Yes. My dad passed away very suddenly due to a heart attack in January of 2011. His funeral was the first funeral I had ever attended. I had never really experienced death before, and it hit me hard and fast. I was 20 years old at the time, and I was going into the second semester of my sophomore year at Belmont University. He passed while I was home for Christmas break, and I debated whether or not I should go back to school or take some time off.
I ended up returning to Belmont for the semester, because I couldn't stay at home. I felt like it was a selfish move to leave my mom and younger brother to continue living in the house where he passed away, but I just had to get back to something that seemed "normal". It wasn't easy returning to school - mostly because no one knew how to"be" around me. They wanted to help, but they didn't really know how, and I don't blame them whatsoever for that. (But as a side note: If someone you know loses a loved one, please don't feel like you are bothering them or making things worse by asking them how they are doing. Usually talking about it is the best thing. Ignoring it or dancing around it only makes them feel more isolated. At least, that's how it was for me.)
I didn't write a single note of music for about 2 weeks. But one night, I found myself alone on the floor of the bathroom suite I shared with 3 other roommates. I had my guitar, my journal, and a pen, and one of those "perfect storm" songs tumbled out of me. I came up with every single line of "Savor" in about 10 minutes, and I didn't even need to write anything down. "Savor" was the first song I wrote about losing my dad, and it was THE most personal song I had/have ever written. It took me awhile to build up the courage to play it out anywhere, but once I did, it felt like a huge weight had been lifted. "Savor" is the final track on my 2014 album (also titled "Savor").
Has music filled any voids in your life?
Absolutely. I am usually a very private person when it comes to my feelings/thoughts/opinions. I bottle a lot of these up, and I get them out in each song I write. I honestly think that if I wasn't a songwriter, I might spontaneously combust one day. Thanks to music, I'm forced out of my comfort zone on a regular basis (and I have yet to spontaneously combust).
Be sure to check out Natalie's debut single "Misery Loves Company", from Harbinger!