Today, Natty Lou released her new single ‘Tempted’ on Liquicity with Welsh vocalist Gemma Rose. She’s had an incredible year of gigs and award nominations, so we thought it was time we caught up with her for a chat…
Let’s start at the beggining of your story, what was your first experience of hearing drum & bass music? Was there a particular track that caught your ear?
My first experience of hearing Drum and Bass music was whilst I was at university in 2008. I lived on campus at UWE Bristol and my flatmate was studying music production. Shout out to Max Hayward! He had turntables in his room and was always mixing Drum and Bass / Jungle music. He took me to my first rave which was Infidelity vs. Bedlam at o2 Academy Bristol (then called Carling Academy) and I was hooked! Dubstep was so big back then – I remember Skream and Benga playing that event and Benga & Coki’s track ‘Night’ came on, which was such a HUGE hit. I had some proper good times skanking out to that track! Other tracks I loved during that time are TC & Sub Focus ‘Borrowed Time – VIP’, Skream’s remix of ‘In For The Kill’, Breakage ‘Fighting Fire’ and High Contrast’s remix of ‘Something Good ‘08’.
You’re from Wales, how easy was it to manifest your love of D&B? For me living near London the culture was easily accessible, was there a healthy club scene where you grew up?
I would say that Bristol was where I manifested my love for D&B. Although saying that, I think my fourth or fifth rave was Bedlam’s 7th Birthday in Cardiff. I know that David Droneboy (Concrete Junglists) was a promoter in Cardiff during that time, running a night called ‘Aperture’ and before that, ‘Neuropol’. I remember going to one of his nights at Moloko to see High Contrast play. I used to love travelling to raves all over the country – RAM at Matter, Playaz at Fabric every Friday, Custard Factory in Brum. The list goes on!
As an outsider looking in, my only knowledge of the Welsh D&B scene is yourself, High Contrast & Catapult Records. Can you fill in some blanks for us all and name check some key local legends that keep the scene running in the area?
Yes, the most notable and respected Drum and Bass artist from Wales, High Contrast, and RIP Catapult Records! There is so much talent coming out of Wales right now, as well as so many event brands / labels doing bits for the scene.
Welsh DnB artists that I’m loving at the moment are Bennie, Magugu, MC XL, Comma Dee, Local, Endo, Gemma Rose, Ransom, Double A Side, Blondy, S.W.I.D & Arkala Dre.
Streetwear and event brand, Concrete Junglists, have joined forces with District nightclub this year and have had some stellar rooftop events featuring their resident DJ’s Ransom and Double A Side.
Other events which I highly recommend going to in Wales are hosted by Bedlam, Canopy, Switch Up, Pull Up, Move Together, Brave The Rave, Sink!, HEFT, The Tunnel, Resonate Events, Shwsh, Headspace and festivals such as Escape, In It Together, Big Love Festival, Westival, Balter and more. Also, a shout out to Penarth based label, Incurzion, who are releasing some epic music right now.
I know I have missed out a lot of other Welsh artists, but I have to say that I am super proud of where the Welsh scene is right now!
You’ve recently collaborated with fellow Welsh artist Gemma Rose on the track ‘Tempted’. How did that link up come about?
I found out about Gemma after listening to her track with Bladerunner ‘Keep Breathing’. She’s an incredible vocalist / writer and so I asked if she wanted to collaborate on a track. It was only after that, that I found out she was also from Wales!
Our stories are really similar as she used to be a teacher as well, but we are now both fully dedicating our time to music. She sent over some acoustic demos of her vocal and piano ideas, and ‘Tempted’ caught my attention immediately – the lyrics were so relatable to what I was going through this year and I guess I can say that this one is very close to my heart.
Liquicity is the perfect label for that track. Was it made specifically with them in mind?
I have been a Liquicity fan for a very long time – when they first started uploading tracks on YouTube – so as you can imagine, I was very happy to hear that they wanted to sign the track!
In November this year, I played my first Liquicity show in Rotterdam, and ‘Tempted’ was the last track that I played out. Maris (co-owner of Liquicity) was there and I asked him to listen out for it, and if he liked it, it’s theirs!
I have previously released a track with Liquicity called ‘Alpenglow’ featuring the talented Lottie Jones and it was nominated as Best Track in the Drum and Bass Arena Awards this year. I am very blessed to have a great relationship with the team at Liquicity and absolutely love the tracks coming out from the label by Andromedik, Maduk, NCT, T & Sugah, Lexurus, Dualistic, CaitC and more! They really look after their artists and are very supportive.
Being A Risk Taker
You’ve had a busy release schedule this year. How do you find time to juggle studio sessions & life on the road?
Being a self-employed freelancer, it is important for me to have a routine in place. I dedicate my Tuesdays to the studio, as well as any extra time I get in the week, and my weekends are usually gigging. I also make sure that I make time for myself like going to the gym, dancing every Monday and yoga every Wednesday.
It’s also important for me to do inner work, meditation & reflection, as well as spending time with my friends and family. Of course, schedule may change – but I’m pretty adaptable.
I must admit, I am a workaholic! Drum and Bass is still part-time for me – I am also a professional dancer, dance teacher and I work in schools during the holidays. I like to keep busy!
It’s fair to say that you’ve had a varied career. You started your working life as a teacher. How does one go from teaching children to smashing festivals?
I graduated from UWE in 2011 with a BSc Hons in Geography and Environmental Management, and then I completed my PGCE at University of Bristol in 2012. I went straight into teaching for three years in London, and then taught at a school in Dubai until 2016.
I decided to quit teaching to live my dream as a professional dancer and then continued my dance career in Hong Kong between 2017-2020. I am a born performer, and I have been very blessed to have danced for artists such as Drake, Sia, Jessie J and for brands such as Adidas, Puma, VIVO Mobile, Chevrolet, Bentley, Porsche and much more. I have performed in front of audiences of up to 80,000 people and have travelled all over Europe, Middle East and Asia doing what I love. It gives me such a buzz!
I started learning how to mix whilst I was living in Hong Kong and it was something fun to do in my spare time. COVID-19 brought me back to the UK and I really didn’t have much to do during that time, so I really concentrated on the craft of mixing and making music. It started off as a hobby and I honestly didn’t think that a few years later I would be playing at major festivals such as Tomorrowland and Glastonbury! I really am blessed and want to say a big thank you to all of the event brands who have given me the opportunity to play out.
Have you ever bumped into any of your former students at festivals?
I left the UK in 2015 so I don’t think that I would recognise them now!
You’ve also not been scared to pack your bags and relocate to other countries… Do you need to be a risk taker to get noticed in this scene?
Yes, I am a risk taker! The biggest risk that I’ve ever taken was moving to Hong Kong with one suitcase, no job, and had Airbnb for three weeks. I had never been to the country before and I only knew one person that lived there, but I knew I could get a work visa and English was spoken there. My parents thought I was absolutely crazy!
I told myself that I would give it three months, but I ended up being there for 2.5 years! If it wasn’t for COVID, I think I would still be there. I also took a risk by leaving my full-time teaching position to become a dancer. So, I was already a freelancer for many years before entering the music scene, and that experience has definitely helped. I think that if you really believe in yourself and your talent, then you will take that risk without hesitation and achieve your goals.
Whatever you’re doing is definitely getting you noticed. You were nominated for a bunch of awards at the recent D&B Arena Awards. That must be a great feeling?
It’s such a great feeling to have been nominated for three awards this year! A big thank you to everyone who voted for me. It feels good to know that there are people out there that love what I do and the music that I have released. Often, doubts and imposter syndrome creep in now and again, so this is a big confidence boost! I am grateful for the kind words from Jenna G, Dave Jenkins and A.M.C.
I’m not afraid to admit that I work incredibly hard. I am very passionate about the music and culture – I love Drum and Bass and it’s been a huge part of life for so long, from being a raver, to a Drum and Bass dancer, to now a DJ & producer. To be able to make this my full-time career is the biggest goal for me.
What’s next for Natty Lou? New music, exciting events to play at, perhaps another branch into another
I have some brand new music lined up for 2024 which I cannot wait for you all to hear! I have a number of festivals booked in for next summer already, one of them being Hospitality on the Beach in Croatia for RUN. I am also very excited to announce that I will be heading over to the USA next year. Lots to look forward to! Big ups to everyone who is supporting my journey.
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