I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by Rafal Kudlinski of NEWSFix Magazine which is a Polish entertainment magazine. Since the interview is in Polish, there is an English translation below this except and link for you. Check out the full interview in Polish and listen to me give a greeting to my Polish fans in Polish (click the play button under the main image)! Note: the copy and paste from Polish to my blog seems to have messed up characters, so please do visit the site for the Polish version.
Kariera Natalie Brown, niezale?nej kanadyjskiej piosenkarki rozpocz??a si? pod koniec XX wieku. Od tego czasu wyda?a trzy albumy „Let the Candle Burn”, „Random Thoughts” oraz „The Relationship Odyssey”. W wywiadzie udzielonym NEWSFix Magazine odkrywa tajemnice swojej kariery. Zapraszamy do lektury i przes?uchania jej piosenek.
Nie jeste? now? artystk?, Twoja kariera ju? trwa ponad 10 lat. Co s?dzisz o muzyce, któr? s?yszymy teraz w radiu? Czy style muzyczne rozwijaj? si? w dobrym kierunku (teksy/muzyka)?
My?l?, ?e w radiu jest troch? dobrych i troch? gorszych piosenek, ale tak by?o od zawsze. A je?li chodzi o muzyk?, to my?l?, ?e rozwija si? ona we w?a?ciwym kierunku. Czuj? jednak, ?e muzyka radiowa jest ogólnym odbiciem nurtu kultury zatwierdzonej jedynie przez du?e wytwórni?. To w?a?nie one decyduj?, ?e co? jest ,,fajne’’ lub b?dzie si? dobrze sprzedawa? – a wi?c pracowa? na ich mark?, dlatego b?dzie to ,,upycha?’’ w radiu. Z tego powodu my?l?, ?e muzyka w radiu nie jest odbiciem ca?ej kultury i wyrazem wszystkich ludzi. Dlatego w?a?nie cudowanie jest mie? doskona?? i rozkwitaj?c? scen? niezale?nej muzyki.!
Read the full interview here >>http://www.newsfix.pl/index.php/2012/05/25/natalie-brown-kanadyjka-o-nieprzecietnym-glosie-wywiad/
English Translation of Entire Interview
1) You’re not new to the music world. What do you think about music we hear on the radio nowadays ? Does music styles develop in right directions (writing/music)?
I think that there are some great songs on the radio and some not so great ones like there have always been. As for if music develops in the right directions: I feel that radio music is a general reflection of the mainstream culture that is approved by major labels. Whatever they feel is ‘cool’ or will sell well and work for them and their co-branding efforts will get pushed to radio. Music on the radio is not necessarily a reflection of all culture though, nor is it the expression of all people. This is why it’s wonderful to have such a robust and thriving Independent music scene. All kinds of music and expression exists for all different kinds of people.
2) Let the Candle Burn was your first album. How would you describe your progress as a musician, singer and a producer since 1999, when you started to craft your debut album.
I think like anytime you pursue a path, you learn and grow as you go along. I have learned so much about the business and music creation since I first started with my debut album. I formed my own record label with my production partner, I have been involved in music licensing and writing all kinds of music in that realm. I think mostly I have grown more confident in my writing and singing skills as I have progressed. I also find that now I am freer to experiment with music and I don’t worry so much about what people will think about what I do. With practice and time comes confidence.
3) Why have you chosen a path of being an independent artist? Have you tried to get into the Big Business with major record labels?
I have had experiences earlier in my career with several Major labels and each time they considered signing me, the people approaching me wanted me to change into a different kind of artist with my music, my style, my looks, pretty much every aspect of me they wanted to change to fit what was ‘popular’ at the time. I really didn’t feel comfortable with pretending to be something I am not, so I decided that it was in my best interest to be true to who I am and to pursue my career as an Independent artist. Me forming my own label and publishing company also meant that I only answer to myself and my business partner, which gives me a lot of freedom to do the kind of music I want, to release projects when it best suits me… it gives me freedom to be who I am and to do what I want as an artist and not have to get any higher authority’s approval to pursue that. I also feel that being independent has given me longevity in my career. I’ve been doing this for 10+ years now and if I had been molded into the ‘hot artist of 1999’ it probably would have been disastrous for my long-term career goals. I want to make and release music until the day I die!
4) The Relationship Odyssey is your “Brand New” album which was released earlier this year. How long did it take you to create it and what’s behind the music and words we hear?
From conception to release it took us about 19 months to write and produce the album. This was my first experiment with a ‘concept album’, which made it a different process from my other albums. This time we came up with the theme of ‘relationships’ and all of the songs are about various kinds of relationships we encounter in our lives.
5) How does the creative process look like for Natalie Brown?
The creative process is different depending on the project I’m working on. For the current project “The Relationship Odyssey”, the process began with selecting soundscapes and sounds first and then the choruses were written and then the verses and bridges. First came the music, theme and vibe, and then the lyrics. My writing process varies by album or project generally. For example, for “Let The Candle Burn” I wrote the lyrics first and then crafted them into melody and arranged the music.
6) Being an independent artist it must be hard to reach for potential fans. What channels do you use to find your new audience?
Due to the fact that mainstream press and radio are expensive to utilize as an avenue for publicity for an independent artist with limited budget, I use the internet as my primary means of finding new fans and exposing my music. I have a presence on all the major social networks and it seems that YouTube and Facebook are the best places right now for fans to discover my music. People also sometimes discover me from some of the streaming music services where my music is available as well as the occasional blog or podcast.
7) Is independent business good nowadays? Many people use crowdfunding other search for sponsors. What’s your idea for business?
I have been fortunate to have a good career as an Independent artist. Getting involved in licensing my music to Film, Television and Advertising has been a good source of income and then of course there’s album sales etc. For my latest album I did use crowd funding to partially fund the project and I think it’s a great idea to do this. As for my ideas for business, I think you have to evaluate what kind of artist you are and what kind of fans you have and then formulate your business plan from there. A business plan for an Indie rock group is going to be different to an artist like myself who does more commercial Pop oriented material. Also keep in mind that with crowdfunding you shouldn’t expect a majority of your fans to contribute financially to your project because some of them may like you personally and/or musically, yet not feel the need to purchase music because they have so much available in their playlists. It’s also sometimes possible for the right type of band/artist to get sponsorship from companies like Converse, Scion or Mountain Dew, etc.; so artists should keep their eyes open for opportunities like that.
8) Have you ever thought of Remix Album ? With your incredible voice and positive messages you could easily cross-over to dance floor music fans.
What do you think about remix competition for your fans?
This question has a complicated answer which I have been planning to address in a Vlog on YouTube; so I would suggest anyone who is interested check out my site www.natalie-brown.com later in the year for the answer. I do get asked a lot about remixes and collaborations but the basic answers are:
a) I don’t have much time available with everything that is on my plate
b) most indie artists/producers/re-mixers don’t understand copyright issues (who owns what), and laws vary by country which makes things even more complicated
c) the dynamics between some producers/re-mixers and female artists can often be “unbalanced” and I have no more time for drama and ego at this stage in my career
d) Any recordings I do now have to make sense in the big picture, even if it is as simple as being timed correctly with other publicity-related activities that are going on
e) And more…
9) Many artist from time to time use popular “HOT” songs from the past and make “them their own with the covers. If you’d ever do that what songs would you choose?
I have so many favorite songs from the past! I think some would be:
“My All” Mariah Carey
“Eternal Flame” The Bangles
“You’ve Got a Friend” Carole King
“From This Moment On” Shania Twain
“Stuttering” Jazmine Sullivan
“Until You Come Back to Me (That’s What I’m Gonna Do)” Aretha Franklin
“Fallin” Alicia Keys
“Calling All Angels” Train
“We Found Love” Rihanna
“Hero” Mariah Carey
“Killing Me Softly” Roberta Flack
“I Can’t Love Anymore” Teena Marie
10) As a business woman and an artist what would you say to aspiring musicians? Is independent way the best or they should try out for shows like Idol or X Factor to get an attention?
I think which way to go really depends on who you are as a person, artist and what your long term goals are. If you are young or you want a chance to be ‘famous’ and you don’t mind a major label telling you what style of music to sing, what sort of persona to have, what to wear, what other brands/businesses to partner with, what songs to perform etc., then I would say go for Idol or X Factor, Idol or shows of that type. Reality singing competitions for young artists are today’s version of what used to be known as “shopping a demo tape” back in the day.
However, if you are a musician with a vision of your own and a specific style that doesn’t fit on any of the radio charts, or you are an artist older than – say – 26 years old; then I would say that you should try the Independent avenue. The choice depends on the kind of career you want to have. Often, people who participate or win TV Singing Contests don’t go very far in their career. They might have a hit song, but they generally don’t last for more than a few years. The exceptions to the rule though are artists like Kelly Clarkson, Leona Lewis, and Carrie Underwood, but none of them are very recent winners.
I think the main thing with being independent is that you are building your brand and business yourself. At any time, if the right opportunity comes about you can always partner with a brand or investor to make your exposure wider, but you remain in control of your branding and your destiny always unless you choose to not have control over it anymore.