Get To Know Natalie Holmes
This week we sat down with Natalie Holmes, Bristol based singer/songwriter with a whole bunch of songs and accolades under her belt. Her set at Babywoman Records Presents last week was mega, so pure, so honest and we simply wanted to give her a grilling. Take 10 minutes out, put the kettle on and Get To Know: Natalie Holmes
Lets start easy Natalie…what guitar are you currently playing?
N: t’s a Tanglewood TW130. A beautiful thing, though I had the electronics replaced with a Headway pick up
You’ve done quite a lot of top line work which is becoming a really popular path amongst singer/songwriters - how does this differ to what you do on your own?
N: I love that it’s an outlet for my songwriting that doesn’t have to be so attached to my own personal direction. With my solo releases I give myself a pressure to use all my talents in one go every time, lyrically, musically and as a songwriter, and I want the songs to be everything I believe they can be before I release them. Perfection isn’t possible, as objectively it doesn’t exist, but with top-lining I feel like I can relax a little, go wild, try new things and genres that I wouldn’t necessarily attach to my own personality. In turn though, this often inspires me TO detach from my self-defined personality and bring more wild and uncomfortable streaks to my solo songwriting, which has led to some exciting new directions.
Can you tell us a little bit more about your latest single ‘Plasterboard’ perhaps something strange, we wouldn’t know about?
N: I had a tough time trying to get the point across in this song that I wanted to get across. Although at first glance/listen it sounds like another distressed, sad love song, I really wanted it to have an air of positivity over it. Something that shows how loss and sadness doesn’t always mean suffering. It took work for me to process this relationship and break up, because at the time it actually seemed incredibly easy, amicable and expected to part ways. It also wasn’t a particularly long or serious relationship, due to us both being so independent. Only down the line did I look back and see how much of a positive impact it had had on me, almost a ‘don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone’ moment. It really opened my eyes to what I can find in a person, and that there’s no need to settle for less than I deserve.
What has been the most memorable live moment show for you? Can you tell us a little more about that?
N: Solo show wise, it was in 2014 when I first got the chance to play an O2 Academy. It was the one in Leeds, supporting Gabrielle Aplin in front of 2000 people. (Amazing that many people actually turned up at 7, apparently people have more respect for bigger gigs and their start times haha!). I rehearsed like crazy with my friend David from uni who accompanied me, and it was the most nervous I’d ever been, but I seem to remember we smashed it! The adrenaline was awesome, and possibly for the first time I felt truly valued as a support act.
Otherwise, I can’t ever forget the Above & Beyond Acoustic tour in 2016, never ever. I got the opportunity to be a vocalist for a 16-piece band arrangement of possibly the biggest Trance act in the world. I sung lead, BV’s, played glockenspiel and vibraphone, in front of 15,000 people at the Hollywood Bowl, not to mention other iconic venues such as the Sydney Opera House, Royal Albert Hall, Greek Theatre in Berkeley, and countless other grand theatre venues around the US (including Hawaii!), and Utrecht in Europe. You can watch the documentary film they made about it and see me in action on Amazon Prime & YouTube! A truly surreal chapter in my life that I will be grateful for for the rest of my life.
We like to get artists perspectives on the state of the music industry right now…do you feel liberated by the way streaming is leading the way for new music or do you feel any setbacks because of this?
N:I’m not really sure how I feel about it if I’m honest. Everything is changing so fast and constantly. As a listener, I really appreciate the amount of under the radar, independent music I have the chance to be exposed to, and it is AMAZING to discover new stuff I love every day. There’s a part of me that does miss the feeling of becoming obsessed with one album, listening to it over and over again until you know it inside out and have felt every feeling along with the artist. The way Spotify works now means that more often than not I’m listening to a playlist where each song is by a different artist and in that moment I love it, but I may never delve deep into that artist as I will continue listening to the playlist. Rather than thinking of an album to listen to in the background I’ll think, what mood of music will suit what I’m doing and make it flow more smoothly, and find a playlist based on that, OR just listen to my own playlists over and over, getting attached to, and then tired of, individual songs. So I do like it, it’s just different, and we have to conscious remind ourselves that artists still do create albums that they’ve put their heart and soul into, and those albums may never be discovered if we only listen to playlists, robbing from us immersive listening experiences as opposed to music to suit our activities.
N: As an artist, I’m left a bit confused. I’m left believing that the only way to ‘break through’ is to get on Spotify Editorial playlists, and disheartened when my songs don’t and others do. It’s blown up un such grand proportions that it’s easy to forget how many other paths there are to take when making music your career, and that millions of people listening to you as background music may not be the only validation of it being worth something. It’s yet another reason for you to compare yourself to other artists, and you have to be stronger than ever, believe in your music more than ever, to keep going and know that it means nothing. All that matters is that you work your hardest to create music you are spine tinglingly proud of, share it, love it, and what’s supposed to come will come.
You’re been given catering on tour and you’re allowed to eat and drink ANYTHING - what would your cuisine of choice be?
N: This is a hard one, as what I’d choose on tour would differ to my favourite food indulgences… I’d need to keep my energy levels up, my voice healthy and my mood positive. Saying this, I genuinely am the hugest fan of healthy food, and believe it can be some of the most delicious, so I would be entirely happy to eat this on tour. I’m thinking big buffet of interesting warm and cold salad dishes (pulses, grains, herbs, dressings, maybe some fried broccoli in chilli, garlic & soy sauce, roasted squash, salsas and dips… it’s endless). I would also definitely need a rider of 90% Lindt Excellence and lemon, ginger & honey pukka tea. On the last day we’ll all go for an Indian and eat our weight in peshwari naans.
If you could go back and tell your younger self something about life or offer advice for what’s to come, what would you say?
N: Prepare for many, many disappointments, but remember you don’t have to label them as that. When something doesn’t come through that you thought was going to, it wasn’t meant to be. Find something better, take what you can from it, and relabel that disappointment as a change of direction with new possibilities. There may only be one chain of events that is going to lead to your music truly being valued and enjoyed by the right people, and that chain of events may not happen for a long time, so do what you can, make the best music you can and tackle the industry in a way that feels healthy for your mind. Don't get hung up on other people’s paths because yours will be totally unique and that is a GOOD thing.
You’re allowed to play any guitar in the world, inside any venue, playing any song with any artist? Who and what would all of these be?
N: Firstly, it wouldn’t be a guitar, it would be a grand piano, and it would be with Bon Iver, any song, and just any grand theatre type venue that is beautiful and has everyone seated.
Can you tell us a secret?
N: I think I may love food as much as music, but this doesn’t degrade my devotion to music, only makes my devotion to food quite obsessive.
The acoustic version of Natalie's brand new single 'Plasterboard' is out now via Babywoman Records. Stream/Download HERE and watch the video below.