2013 has been a big year for 22 year old Stockport raised Natalie Findlay. High-profile support slots and a busy summer schedule have been topped off by a 6-date UK tour. A couple of hours before her set at Nottingham’s Spanky Van Dykes (read the review here) I caught up with Natalie to talk about her year, gigs on the piss, musical inspirations and fucked up vocals.
AO: First of all, I think last time you were here you played at Rescue Rooms didn’t you?
NF: Yeah, it was Dot to Dot festival.
AO: Do you have good memories of that?
NF: Yeah I think we got here at like 11 in the morning and we didn’t play till 11 at night. We had like a million drinks to open so we were drinking like fucking pitchers of pimms all day, and by the time we did the gig we were fucking smashed. But it was a good show.
AO: A gig when you’re smashed, is that usually a good show?
NF: Um, yeah usually. Now we’ve been on tour for so long we can just get battered and still, you know, play half decent. We’ve been playing for ages, so yeah; I’m 22, I’m in a band, so what excuse have I got not to get battered every night?
AO: Yeah exactly. I first heard of you when you were supporting Miles Kane, I saw you play at Bedford Corn Exchange, and then obviously found your music after that. You supported Jake Bugg as well didn’t you?
NF: Yeah we played with him, done loads of shows with him, 15 shows or something. He’s a really great guy, and he’s from Nottingham isn’t he.
AO: Yeah he is. Out of the two, was there one that musically you preferred or liked to hang out with more?
NF: Um, no they’re both really cool; I’m not gunna pick or choose on of them, that could get me in trouble. But yeah they’re both really sound, just really good lads and we just had loads of fun.
AO: It must have been really fun touring with them.
NF: Yeah, it’s just fun to like hang out with people who are doing the same thing as you, and know what you’re on about when you go ‘ah fucking hell I’m sick of doing this’, or ‘I can’t be arsed with that, or ‘how fucking cool is this.’ They just get it; it’s nice to hang out with people who are like-minded like that.
AO: You’ve just been in Paris haven’t you?
NF: Yeah did quite a few shows; we did 4 shows in France in the last month, one in Switzerland and one in Amsterdam as well. But yeah in Paris we played a place called the Boule Noir which is next to La Cigale. We played with Casual Sex and we played with Drenge as well, who are really awesome I love them. So yeah that was a really fun night, we got really really drunk. I fell asleep on the counter of a pizza place, and got like completely naked with pizza on my face. But yeah it was a mint night; it was really fun.
AO: That sounds great. What would you say your highlight of the year would be? Cos obviously it’s been a pretty big year for you.
NF: We played the 100 Club in London last night which is like one of my favourite venues in the world, and to sell that out felt fucking amazing. The first time we played with Jake was there like a year and a half ago before his record had even come out. I remember him selling that out when he was in the same kind of place that I’m in now, and I remember thinking: ‘fuck if I can sell this venue out I’d feel fucking great’, and then to actually do it last night, it was really something for me, like a huge achievement. It was just such a good night. Sorry that’s why I’m hanging a bit right now.
AO: That’s alright, as long as it’s a good show later.
NF: I’ll pull it out of the bag, I’m gunna have a Spanky’s burger and it’ll all be good.
AO: ‘Greasy Love’, I think it’s fucking awesome. How have people been receiving it, the EP, as you’ve been around?
NF: I’ve had really good feedback, that’s what I love about Twitter and Facebook, that you can directly ask the fans ‘do you like this?’, ‘what do you think of this?’ It’s just been overwhelmingly positive, and I spent ages working on those songs so to get such good feedback and such positivity from who’s buying it is a really nice feeling to have. I’m really happy with it.
AO: Wasn’t it Bill Ryder-Jones I saw a video of you singing ‘Black Cloud Silver Lining’ with?
NF: Yeah well I had that track, and I sent it to him and I was like ‘look we could do something really cool with this, will you come and play and sing on it?’ And he was like ‘yeah sure of course’. And he was down working, producing <i>The Witches’</i> next record, so we kinda just rocked up in Hoxton in a studio called The Square, and we recorded that in like a couple of hours. That was like a last minute recording for the EP, but it was great. He’s awesome, his music’s great and I think he’s fucking so talented, so it was a real pleasure to work with him.
AO: Yeah I’d say that’s probably my favourite track off the new EP. On ‘Greasy Love’, and you’re other songs, you’ve got this massive vocal distortion thing going on, which is really cool. Where did that come from? Cos I’ve never really heard it used in the way that you use it ever before.
NF: I’ve always kind of loved like fucked up vocal sounds, like I think Julian Casablancas’ vocal sound is awesome, I dunno what kind of amp or whatever they run his vocal through but it’s really cool. And like Karen O as well, who used those sorts of weird distortion. But I’ve always said, I said this in an interview earlier, you would never, you know, plug a guitar straight into an amp and just play through the amp, you would put some effects on over, some reverb, or pedals or whatever, and I think like, a vocal is an instrument, as well as singing the lyrics and all that kinda stuff it sits within the soundscape, so it kinda adds to that… I think adding distortion and stuff like that is just another layer of music, another layer of sounds to engage your ears.
AO: Kind of like adding a different twist to it.
NF: Yeah, but then tracks like ‘Black Cloud Silver Lining’, I just wanted there to be just like a real purist sound for that, I mean it was just me and Bill and the piano, and we kept that really sparse; that suited the track. I think it depends, whatever track you’re doing you can kinda gauge what sounds you want on it, and how fucked up you wanna make things sound. And ‘Greasy Love’ is a pretty fucked up song so I thought I’d better put a fucked up vocal on it.
AO: After a show, say you had the day off the next day, is there usually some kind of after gig party or a recurring ritual or something like that?
NF: Just drink all the rider as quickly as possible and see who can get the most drunk. Sometimes though when you’ve got a day off it’s nice just to like chill out and not feel like shit, cos most of the time you’re on tour you feel like shit, you’re just eating at weird times and driving for hours and hours, so it gets really knackering after a while. I mean I love it, but now… I love doing shows but I’m really excited to have Christmas off and just do nothing for a while. I dunno, I like touring but it can get really tiring.
AO: Have you got any plans for Christmas?
NF: I’m just gunna go back up north and stay with my mum and dad. I’ve not been home in ages so I’m looking forward to just seeing my family, seeing my friends, and going to the pub.
AO: I was wondering, I always wonder what people’s… not necessarily favourite artist or most influential artist is, but the first band or artist that they found that made them get into music.
NF: I got really into The White Stripes and The Strokes, and my favourite band ever is The Velvet Underground. When Lou Reed died man I was like a fucking mess, I was in this hotel room by myself just like crying. It was tragic. I dunno, I think when you get into music every band is your favourite band for a while, so I couldn’t really pinpoint it… I love Regina Spektor as well, she was probably my first real musical obsession; I’ve seen her a bunch of times. I like loads of old blues music and jazz music that my mum and dad kinda brought me up on like Captain Beefheart and Syd Barrett and stuff like that. My younger brother is just at the age I was when I was getting into music and he’s already well ahead of me. I’ve raised him so well to appreciate good music, his favourite band’s The Beatles so you couldn’t ask for anything more than that. There’s so much music out there, I think you kinda dip in and out of stuff and go round who’s your favourite band now and then, it’s just how to enjoy music, it’s that way I think. I hate people who say ‘this is my favourite band, I only listen to them’, they’re really closed-minded. I’m still discovering music now that was released you know fucking 50, 60 years ago, I’m like ‘shit how have I never heard this band before, I’m like 22’ … like when I found that band Shocking Blue I was like ‘fucking hell this band is great how have I never listened to them before?’ Yeah, always finding new stuff, and there’s so much new music coming out right now, it’s a really exciting time I think what with the internet revolution and everything it’s so easy to find new bands and bands who put music out, it’s just a good time to be alive as a musician.
AO: Are there any current, upcoming bands that you really like?
NF: I really like this band called Wampire, their record’s great, there’s a band called Reputante as well, who are on Julian Casablancas’ record label. I saw them a few weeks and they were fucking great. There’s a band called Scanners who I really like, think they’ve got a few records out but I’ve only just got into them recently. Um who else is good…? I’m terrible at thinking of stuff of the top of my head. I made a load of Spotify playlists, I make one like every month, of new music and stuff that I’m listening to, so check that out if you wanna, you know, look inside my head.
AO: Obviously, you were in London, now you’re here. You’ve got a show on Saturday?
NF: Saturday is the last show of the tour in Manchester which is where I’m from which is gunna be like the best show I reckon.
AO: Are the homecoming shows always the best?
NF: Yeah, the last time we played in Manchester someone in the crowd was sick on a group of my friends. That’s just the kind of shit that goes down in Manchester, you never have a fucking quiet show there, that’s why I’m glad we’re finishing the tour there, just an excuse to get absolutely mullered. And my mum and dad are coming as well, and its just gunna be a laugh, I’m really excited for it.
AO: Do you like having your parents in the crowd, or do you find it a bit weird?
NF: Um, I used to fucking hate it and I used to be like ‘don’t come, please don’t come.’ But then, they just get pissed anyway, it’s just really funny, they’re really cool you know they’re not uptight or anything. They fucking supported me for this long so I can pay them back by fucking letting them into my gig.
AO: Someone once said, I can’t remember who it was, that the further north you go the louder the crowds get or the better the crowds get. Is that definitely true?
NF: Yeah definitely, and then you get to Scotland and the fucking roof blows off, its great. But then, we played in London last night and it was pretty banging.
AO: I wanted to ask, in your mind, songs wise, how close are you to getting an album together?
NF: I’m pretty close, hopefully the record will be out like in the summer 2014. I’ve got another EP coming out at the beginning of the year as well. But I just really wanna push myself to write the best debut record I can write. I have enough songs now, probably, to make an album, but I just wanna stretch out the time I have to write and experiment with different sounds and different ways of writing before I commit to one song for the record. Which is why I’ve really enjoyed making these EPs, cos I’ve had the chance to experiment with different people and different sounds and ways of writing and putting things together, it’s been really interesting. So I’m kind of enjoying this period of time before the label go: ‘right, now get you’re shit together you’ve got to do an album now.’ I just wanna keep writing, keep writing and then hopefully I’ll have an even bigger bunch of songs, and sit down, you know, and work the tracklist from there. It’s seriously exciting, but I know a lot of people are like ‘when the fuck is your album out?’ I’m like: ‘I want it to be really good, don’t hate me!’
AO: So, whenever it is, a year, two years whatever, there’s a chance that some of your big tunes might not be on it?
NF: I dunno, I’ll have to cross that bridge when I come to it, if I’ve written songs that are better than what I’ve already released then I’ll obviously knock off the odd songs and replace them with what I think’s better, but if not then those tracks will be on there.