Interview: A Conversation with Natalie Prass

“I like the music I make and I could keep making it for the rest of my life. I’m not worried and that’s a comfortable place to be”

Natalie Prass is on somewhat of a climb at the moment. Having released her much delayed self-titled debut LP in January of this year, Prass still finds herself making a lot of new fans thanks to her live show.  Her set at the Green Man Festival was just another of the many that she has done in the UK this year, and another that received plaudits from all who were there to witness it. This was followed by a set at the End of the Road festival which again earned Prass some media attention. During it, a Doc Brown and Marty McFly lookalike were invited to the stage for an impromptu version of ‘Johnny B Goode’.

Having previously to Natalie Prass via Twitter after her problematic show in Manchester, one that she described herself as “the monitor show.. Monitor mayhem” I was looking forward to getting to meet her. The meeting took place in the press area of the Green Man festival, a couple of hours before she was due to take to the stage.

Inevitably we began by discussing our original Twitter exchange and the show at The Deaf Institute.

How did it rank on a scale of 1-10?

That was our worst show of the whole tour. And not just for me, that was for all of us. That happens though, you know. You can’t have the perfect show, every show. It’s just something that you’ve got to accept. We had an amazing tour manager/front of house guy, he just wasn’t good at monitors. He really struggled the whole tour with that. I move around a lot and he had trouble with that. It just makes me really dizzy when they feedback a lot.

Are there any questions that you are just sick of being asked?

[Laughs] uhhh…

That’s a yes! You just don’t want to say.

Well, there are certain ones yeah. ‘Why did it take so long for the record to come out?’ for example, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m really easy going so I’ll just answer anything. I’m not really sick of anything.

Despite the record coming out eight months ago, your name is only more recently becoming better known. Do you believe there’s a reason behind that?

You know, probably, but I don’t know what. I’m just a white girl playing music.  Like a straight white girl, you know what I mean? It gets a lot of attention. There’s stories and… I don’t fucking know. I know my voice isn’t for everybody, like I don’t have a ‘pretty’ voice.

You’ve definitely got a pretty voice! I’d argue that it’s possibly too pretty.

Too pretty? [laughs] I don’t know what my voice is. It’s subjective. I hear a lot of people state that ‘oh I can’t stand her voice’ but yea… going back. I think there’s a number of reasons.  I don’t want to say that gender is a reason but I feel like girls gotta battle with that a lot. We’ve got to try and prove ourselves a little. It’s harder to be taken seriously.

Despite whatever, it’s going well and I’d rather have a slow steady climb to be honest. Even with my age. I’ve been doing it for so long but I would rather have it be this way. I like the music I make and I could keep making it for the rest of my life. I’m not worried and that’s a comfortable place to be.

So there’s a second album on the way/in the works?

It’s in the works yeah. It’s not done because I haven’t had any time. I’m writing it in pieces when I can and with the touring… I’ve just been non-stop.

I can tell! I saw you in March with Ryan in Liverpool and then at the Deaf Institute last month and now obviously today. That’s a lot of UK visiting in a year.

That Liverpool show was so hot! You’ve seen me battling a number of different situations.  Today I’m fighting a black mould infection.  We got our first bus, ever! We were so excited because the tour has been pretty intense so the label decided to get us a bus.  The date was scheduled for when we’d get it, we got so excited, it comes and it smells horrible! It’s wet and it’s hot and immediately I didn’t feel good about it, but I tried to stay positive. Two days later I got really ill and knew it was something to do with the bus.  We searched the thing, lifted up the mattresses and found that they were covered in black mould.  We’d been sleeping on the stuff that had sent Bob Dylan to the hospital!  We got a new bus, but I’m still fighting it. Whatever though, that’s the way of the road! Just when you think things are getting better, it’s like ‘No’.

What did you learn from the whole process of recording your first record that you’re going to take with you into the second?

Well Matt (Matthew E White) is one of the most organised people that I’ve ever met. He’d tell me that I had to be in for 10am because we’d be recording until 6pm and what exactly I’d be recording.  It was something I really needed for this record because there was just so much going on.  I really valued the organisation because in Nashville I’d just be like ‘well I guess we’ll go in at 5pm and work until we’re done’. It’d end up going until say 2am and then wouldn’t sound so good.  Matt was also really good at loosening me up. One of my favourite moments was when he told me to just make a track of vocal noises. It was something I’d never thought in my whole life about doing. I just stood there growling and you can actually find it deep into the mix on the track ‘Your Fool’. It was really cool.

I’m going to get kicked out of here soon so I’ll sadly have to wrap this up.  Have there been any releases that have stood out to you so far this year?

Ooo, I just discovered Benjamin Clementine. He’s from London but he lives in France now. I think he’s so talented and he’s just got a beautiful brain for music. He’s an amazing composer and pianist and he’s got a beautiful voice. I just really like it. War On Drugs too!

Is there a question that you wish you were asked that you are never asked?

Oh jeez! I don’t know. What do other people say?

Well I last asked the front man of a band called Gengahr and he said he wished people asked what his favourite colour was.

[laughs] wow! Ok, well I’m going to say… the rainbow. There’s an appropriate colour for every occasion. Plus, you know, in the US the gay rights bill was passed and I’m just so excited about that. It’s the best thing to happen in America for a very long time.