Every once in a while, an artist will come along and completely reinvent the pop formula, but still manage to keep it familiar and fresh. It's a hard task, but that is exactly what this next act I'm about to introduce to you does.
Her name is Natalie, and she goes by the stage name of Bang Bang Bang. She makes pop unlike anything I've ever heard before; and that is most definitely a good thing. Natalie understands the power that visuals can have when paired with music (just check her YouTube) and that is just one of the reasons why I love her material. She's very passionate about her music and influences and was kind enough to tell us all about them...
Hey Natalie, thanks for taking the time to talk to us here at Popshade! Why don't you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
Hi. My name's Natalie and I'm the artist behind Bang Bang Bang. I've been making music for over a decade so it's a really, really long story. I will try to put it succinctly. I sing and play guitar. I started out in punk/grunge bands when I was really young. Nirvana and Hole were probably my first loves. I then became quite obsessed with the 90s grunge and Riot Grrrl scene and discovered Sonic Youth, Pixies, Veruca Salt et al. I remember my dad taking me to see Patti Smith at Brixton Academy after I took my last GCSE exam. He played Horses in the car on the way there and my mind was blown. She was incredible live, I mean despite her age and Horses coming out in 1975 and she still sounded exactly the same - it was so inspirational. These are probably the main foundations for my love of music. I'm still in love with all these acts today.
I always found myself leaning towards bands who had a girl in them. Even the Velvet Underground, with or without Nico, they've got Mo on the drums. I feel like a sense of femininity within the music would draw me to these acts, as I'm a girl and I can relate to it. I can feel like I can do it too. That's what I always loved about these scenes in rock n' roll history in general actually, they were DIY, they were reachable and created by misfits. You didn't feel like it was a special club you couldn't get into if you didn't have enough money or the right connections. It was inclusive. Also the artists were totally believable and you could tell they were always making the music they wanted to make.
So after years of being in bands and being let down and having people walk out on me, I decided to go it alone. This wasn't the ideal situation to begin with. I always imagined myself being in a band. I wrote songs for bands. But as I started to go it alone I actually learned to love the freedom that came with it, and this is when I think I really found my vision of who I wanted to be as an artist. There's a lot more responsibility being a solo artist. You can't be as lazy. You can't blame anyone else. I started to write songs and produce them at my friend's house and then make videos and put them online. I wanted to be really clear with my audience. I would only upload my songs to YouTube so people had to watch the videos along with them. This way they were entering the world of Bang Bang Bang, drinking it in, seeing what I had in my head and so making it an inclusive experience for the audience.
You're clearly influenced by many different styles over the past few decades, but which decade has influenced you the most?
I feel like Bang Bang Bang is a very nostalgic project, but it merges lots of styles together, so I couldn't possibly pick just one. I mentioned the 90s, 70s and 60s in the earlier question. I do really like 80s electro pop and 60s girl groups too. I am obsessed with The Shangri-Las. I love Phil Spector's production. I didn't wanna copy anything outright to be honest. I just wanted to take in all my influences and then come out with a sound that I just liked. I didn't really want to be the sum of my influences. I just want to be myself. Lyrically, I feel like Bang Bang Bang is pretty modern. I love the irony behind trends on twitter. Sometimes, I feel like I could sum up my lyrical themes with #girlproblems.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
So many people. Lena Dunham, Frank Black, Wes Anderson, my ultimate woman - Patti Smith, Bowie, Nile Rodgers... The last one sounds like such a cliché at the moment, but like how cool would it be if you came up with something classic! That excites me. I especially love the early stuff he did with Madonna. How good would it be if this became a self-fulfilling prophecy! I'm very excited now!
We love the visuals you've put to the releases on your YouTube, what's the story behind them?
Thank you, I am so glad you're enjoying them! When I started Bang Bang Bang I knew the visuals were going to be important. I found that whenever I wanted to listen to a song I would go straight to YouTube. My iTunes didn't have everything on it, Spotify doesn't have everything on it, but you can pretty much find whatever you're looking for on YouTube. So I knew I'd wanna put my tracks up there first. Earlier on in my career when I was in bands, I always found that I could get kind of misunderstood. For example I would write a song trying to sound like Be Your Own Pet and somebody would be like, 'Ohh you must LOVE Paramore' - so people were kinda missing the point.
So this time I knew I wanted to take people on the journey that I saw in my head when I listened to the songs. So again, on YouTube you can find anything... So I was like, 'I really see Haiwaiian hula dancing in this part of the song' and for sure I could find a clip of it. So I started collecting loads of footage and making videos on iMovie. I really love doing it, and the aesthetic is so important to me, and I feel like it's becoming clearer with every video. For me it enhances the music and it helped me to get a lot of attention quite quickly and this time no one misunderstood me.
You write some crazy catchy hooks, is that where you start with your songwriting?
My mantra is always 'catchy not cheesy'. I'll take away a rough draft of a song and listen to it 107 times and have figured out a load more hooks and then try to fit them in on top. I always get obsessed with my music. Generally, songs for me always start with a mood - could be a title or a guitar riff or something like that. For me, the music is just as important as the melody and lyrics. For a long time the music was more important, like when I was in bands, I wanted the music to sound badass and the vocal would be really organic, whatever first sprung to mind, didn't have to make any sense. I would usually make up the majority of the lyrics on stage or that day in the studio. Since going solo I wanted to place a lot more emphasis on the words, I feel like now if I'm not making a statement with all the components of a song, I may as well just chuck it. Songs are such a powerful medium of art, I like to respect that.
We're tipping you as one of our ones to watch for 2014, and we're not the only ones! What do you want to get out of 2014?
That's very nice of you, thank you. I am about to go on tour supporting Rizzle Kicks, which is blowing my mind. We're gonna be playing huge venues - the Hammersmith Apollo is one of them - I used to work behind the bar there less than a year ago, so it's such a cool feeling. I can't wait to be playing these songs live. I love playing live. Also, I just released a new track called Dreamphone, where I directed the video - it's one of my favourite songs that I've written. It's available for free download on my Facebook page right now!
So, you've teased us with some hella catchy songs (and awesome accompanying videos) on YouTube, we need to know, what can we expect from the debut album?
I feel like I'm carving out a good place for myself in the music world. The stuff that's out in the ether at the moment is a true indication of who I am right now and what kind of art I'm making. I'm still working on an album, although I have a lot of songs already done, I'm growing and developing every day so the album could have a couple of surprises on it. But generally, I feel like I want to keep it idiosyncratic and really hit home with this style and sound that I've already started to create.
What can our readers expect if they come down to one of your shows?
My band is made up of guys that I've been playing with over the last few years and we all know each other really well. It's gonna be quite rock n' roll. We're not gonna be too polite with each other, if you know what I mean. Whenever I go to a live show I want it to feel like a real event, so there will be a strong visual element to it as well. The last show I did, I had some backing dancer babes and some inflatable palm trees on stage with us. It was in a pub in Camden. So, what I'm trying to do is create the whole world of Bang Bang Bang, make it a real experience, just like the YouTube videos... But in real life.
Finally, where can our readers find you?
I will be on tour supporting Rizzle Kicks & here are the dates: Link.
I'd like to thank Natalie for taking the time to answer these questions!
Well, there you have it. I'm sure you'll agree that BBB definitely brings something new and exciting to the pop world; and I really hope she does well. The accompanying videos just add so much more to what are already brilliant pop songs, and she does a great job of creating a "world of Bang Bang Bang".
If you recognise great pop music, and want to help BBB out, then get following her on all those social networks just up there, and while you're at it, spend hours watching her YouTube videos over and over again, they're bloody addicting! Let's get her the attention she deserves!