Natty: The Interview!
After recently coming back from touring with Ziggy Marley, The Wrap Up’s Ra’ed Poetical caught up with north London’s Natty before one of his shows. In this interview, the UK reggae star opens up about his latest EP, 'Change', his long visit to Africa, his career highlights, how he feels about always being compared to the legendary Bob Marley and a lot more…
The Wrap Up: Natty! Nice to catch you just before your show. You’ve actually been on this UK tour since October, haven’t you? How different is it performing now as opposed to a few years ago when you came out with ‘Man Like I’?
Natty: Nice to be speaking to you guys. Performing now is different because the crowd has had a lot of years to listen to the CD, for starters. Some of the crowds know the songs word for word, and I fully rate them for that. It’s also different in the sense that we’ve been waiting for a long time to come back around, not just a couple of years, so there was a lot of excitement, a nice musical hype and a blessed up spirit. I’m riding on a high right now.
TWU: You recently came back from the US after touring with Ziggy Marley. What was that like?
Natty: It was amazing! The crowd were very accepting. We took a whole heap of CDs out there, which all sold out. The people really listened to the words; it was a blessing and a nice surprise because I didn’t expect America to be so welcoming.
TWU: ‘Change’, the EP including four powerful tracks, was recently released. On one of the tracks, ‘JJ Don’t Go’, you speak about gun crime. Why did you want to speak on that topic?
Natty: It’s very close to my heart and I write songs that are close to my heart. The sight of young boys growing up in what can only be described as ‘the ghetto’, even though it’s not the proper ghetto, I thought it was important to write about it and that is how the song came about. It was something that was based on kind of a true story.
TWU: Do you feel it’s important that artists should have a message in their music?
Natty: I think it’s important for everyone to stay true to themselves. If you’re not about a message, then don’t try and be about the message. But if you have that consciousness about you, you have to stay true to that. In my life, I think that there’s a certain consciousness and it shows in most of the music that I write. In fact, all of the songs that I write will have a level of consciousness in them.
TWU: There’s also an amazing remix of the EP titled track, ‘Change’, featuring Akala, Busy Signal and more. How did that come about?
Natty: I rung around and some of the man dem I know personally, some of them are friends and they just got on board. Everyone can feel a change in the air, the type of conversations the youth are having today is very different from the type of conversations that they were having three or four years ago. People are switching on and there’s a change and that’s why it was real easy to get people to jump on it. Once they heard it, they were like, ‘I’m down.’
TWU: It sounds like you’ve evolved as a person. Do you think you can see that transition in your new music as well?
Natty: For sure. I can’t keep on trying to recreate the type of music that I was making back then because that wouldn’t be true to me. The content has changed, the music is evolving, I’m evolving and that’s the beautiful thing about life.
TWU: Your first CD, ‘Man Like I’, was widely praised for its blend of styles and genres. What can we expect from your new music in 2012?
Natty: You can expect a mix of reggae, soul, African and folk-type sounds. Songs about love and life, honest songs that are produced well with some great musicians. I think the band that I have is the cream of the crop of musicians in the UK.
TWU: You spent a lot time in Africa. Why did you go there and what did you learn?
Natty: For spiritual teaching and fun! People know how to have fun in Africa, let me tell you that (laughs). I just got a real connection with the motherland. You can learn a hundred things from books, but you can learn a lot of things from the land as well.
TWU: Growing up in a multicultural home must have helped to shape your musical influences, but what else do you draw inspiration from?
Natty: From my own feelings, my loved ones, family and friends. Life in general, anything can inspire one to write a song. You can take anything and turn it into a song, anything with truth about the life that you’re living.
TWU: How would you describe your favourite musical memory since the start of your career?
Natty: I remember when we played Glastonbury, that was ill! We opened, which was a pretty big highlight. Performing on Jools Holland’s show was also a highlight. Then there are times I remember when we played at a gig in front of like eight people in Kilburn and half of them were crack heads, but it was just wicked (laughs). I don’t take anything for granted.
TWU: Very impressive. People often compare you to Bob Marley, and even some of his sons. Does that bother you or do you find it a compliment?
Natty: Bob Marley is a great man, but I’m just trying to be me. If someone wants to compare me with somebody of that great status, I’ll just humble myself and be like, ‘Nah, I’m not. I’m nowhere near that type of greatness.’ I wouldn’t take it in any bad way.
TWU: If you had the chance to perform on stage with any musician, dead or alive, who would it be?
Natty: Let me choose three: Bob Marley, Fela Kuti and Jimi Hendrix. That would be nice, still.
TWU: What do you want your listeners take away from your music?
Natty: A rootical vibe.
TWU: And if you weren't Natty the reggae star, what would you be doing in life?
Natty: I would probably be travelling or working with young people.
Stay up to date with Natty on Twitter – www.twitter.com/NattyMusic
Words: Ra’ed Poetical (@MrPoetical)
Online editing: Joseph 'JP' Patterson (@Jpizzledizzle)