Interview with Natalie Joly
"Natalie Joly is an award-winning singer-songwriter from Boston, currently based in the music capital of the world, Nashville TN. With influences ranging from The Beatles and Aerosmith, to Taylor Swift and Bruno Mars, Natalie’s music doesn’t quite fit into any one genre. Raised on classic rock, her music is drum and electric guitar-heavy, donning harmonies that fill any room, with compelling lyrics relatable to all ages. She released her first self-titled album at 15, a subsequent album at 17 called “Paint the Picture”, and another EP at 19 years old. Since 2017 she has released her music as singles, having her 2018 song “You Oughta Know” win Song of the Year at the 2019 New England Music Awards.
Over the years Natalie has gained a large social media following, with over 52,000 Instagram Followers, over 8,200 Youtube Subscribers. Her Instagram videos have accumulated over 10 million views, and her Youtube channel has reached over 1.5 million lifetime views."
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I've been singing since I was a very young child and learned guitar at about 8 years old so I never really decided to "get into" music, it just naturally happened. I come from a musical family and was singing as soon as I could talk. I'd say when I was about 11 or 12 (when Hannah Montana and Taylor Swift were always on repeat LOL) that I realized I could also do music for a career, and I just went with it and never looked back! I think I'd be in the beauty industry if I never got into music. I really love doing hair and makeup so I'd probably be doing something in that area.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I really love reading and learning, watching documentaries and interviews with great thinkers. I also have a big interest in politics and pop culture. I think psychology in general is really interesting so I'm always interested in learning why people act or think the way they do. When I was younger learning how to write songs, pretty much all of my "inspiration" came from the drama of teenage romance, writing love songs primarily about my own love life. As I've gotten older and taken an interest in psychology and society in general, I've found that my writing has gone a lot deeper and become more meaningful. I still write a lot of love songs, but a lot of times I'm actually writing about other topics, but I put them in the context of a romantic relationship. It's almost like I get to use songwriting as a way to explore new concepts and ideas which I really love.
How long has music been your career?
I've been at it for a little over a decade. I'm 26 years old and I had booked my first bar residency at 14, and came out with my first album at 15 years old.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
Last winter I made the move to Nashville from my hometown right outside of Boston. Spending my whole life in Boston definitely influenced my music because of the deep roots of music there. There's a lot of hometown pride especially in the world of rock music, given that Boston was the home of bands like Aerosmith, The Cars, J. Geils Band and so many more. I grew up on rock and roll and definitely felt a deep connection to it in Boston, the only issue is that there isn't as much of an original scene there as there used to be. I decided to move to Nashville because of the booming original scene here and so far I'm loving it. I love going to rounds and discovering unbelievable artists in such an intimate setting just doing their thing. I love that songwriting is such a culture down here and how supportive everyone is of each other, not to mention how many producers and players are here to collaborate with!
Tell me about the best and worst shows you have played.
No one specific show comes to mind as the best or worst, but for me it all depends on the crowd. Throughout the years I've played my fair share of shows to a pretty much empty room and that's always a big bummer. On the flip side, shows in a pact room where the energy is high and your family and friends are all there singing along is one of the best feelings in the world.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
I don't have one favorite venue, but for me what makes a great venue is the equipment set up and the staff. Having a great sound guy that's easy to work with makes shows so much easier and less stressful for artists. It's really important to me that a show sounds fantastic for everyone in the crowd, as well as for videos to post online. I'm new to Nashville so there are a ton of venues I'm dying to play, specifically The Listening Room and the Skydeck on Broadway!If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?Ooo, this is a tough one! If I could play any show I think it would be a show where I'd get to collaborate with one of my idols. I would give anything to be able to do a duet with someone like Steven Tyler, Dave Grohl, Taylor Swift, Shania Twain... the list could go on forever!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into music?
My advice for someone just getting into music would be to take the time to figure out what you really want. There are so many ways to bake the cake in this industry and if you aren't clear on what you're looking for, you can be susceptible to other people pulling you in all sorts of different directions. Another piece of advice is to really practice your craft! Get obsessed with it. Write hundreds of songs, practice singing songs that are way out of your comfort zone, watch YouTube tutorials and interviews with the greats. Being in music isn't easy and the more you push yourself to learn new things and grow as an artist, the better prepared you'll be!
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
My advice to my younger self would be to stop letting things derail my path and just release as much of my music as possible. I've started and stopped so many projects because of personal relationship drama and when I look back, it really bothers me how little of my music is out in the world. I have so much almost-finished music that no one has ever heard, so now that I'm in Nashville with a new production team, my new goal is to get out as much of it as I possibly can in the coming months!
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I definitely go in phases for which song means the most to me but right now I'd say "Running Circles" has the biggest soft spot. I wrote it at the very beginning of the pandemic, right after my band at the time had broken up, and everytime I listen to it I just feel a sense of renewed spirit for why I do what I do. I was in a season of frustration and fear and lots of change and I kind of just wrote that song as a reminder to myself that I'm doing this for the music, not for anyone or anything else. It was also the first song that I recorded and produced myself, which opened up a whole new world for me which led me to how I'm making my music currently. It was an experimental song that really upgraded my perspective, gave me something to focus on during a really turbulent time in the world and I just always get a warm, cozy feeling when I listen to it.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
My favorite songs to play are the ones when I can really let go and belt out, like "Will You Ever Stop" and "What Will Be". I'd say my most well known and requested song is "You Oughta Know" which won Song of the Year at the 2019 New England Music Awards!
What is the creative process for you, and what inspires you to write your music?
I wrote my first song at 8 years old so my creative process has always been very personal to me because I just figured it out on my own without anyone else intervening for a really long time. Songs have always come to me really quickly... I'll get an idea pop into my head, a melody or a lyric, and once I sit down to write it, it's usually finished within 30 minutes or so. I always say I'm most called to write when I'm bubbling over with emotion, good or bad. Sometimes I schedule out writing but it's just not the same for me. When I listen to my intuition and write when it feels right, it's like a stream of consciousness that just flows out of me. I'm definitely inspired by relationships, whether it be romantic or otherwise. Most of my songs are about relationships I've personally had, sometimes I get really inspired by relationships on a TV show, or I write about societal "relationships" that aren't at all romantic, but can be framed in a way that it comes out as a love song.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
I try to be as real and authentic as possible and retain a positive outlook. Even songs I write that are sad and emotional, I try to always end on an uplifting note. Music can change people's perspectives on things and as a writer I feel strongly that it's part of my responsibility to evoke a positive and resilient attitude. I strongly value being your best self, being kind and compassionate and well thought out, and I try to portray those values in my music in hopes that they help lead people in the right direction if they connect with the song on that level.
Do you ever have disagreements when collaborating and how do you get past them?
I think it's important for everyone to have the song's best interest in mind, and if your team is all in agreement on that then it's usually pretty easy to clear up disagreements. If there are multiple ideas for how a section or a part should go, after playing through the different options a few times it usually becomes clear which idea works best. When you're collaborating I think the most important thing is for everyone's ideas to be heard and for everyone to be open minded. If this doesn't clear things up, I believe there should always be someone that has final say to make the decision, because you don't want to be going around in circles wasting too much time.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I'm currently beginning a new release schedule that will have me putting out a new song every 6 weeks! This is huge for me because I've always had an issue with it taking so long to get my music out. I have hundreds of songs no one has ever heard! So the next 6 months will be filled with new releases that I am so excited for people to hear! My latest song "What Will Be" was released on November 11, and my next single "Prove Them Wrong" will be out on December 16!