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18th January 2014

Interview: Findlay

Bianca Boorer speaks to Natalie Findlay on her inspirations for her genre of music, lyrics, style of singing and music videos.

Backstage after sound checks with the rest of the band mates, a tired and stressed but feeling good Findlay spares a moment to have a chat with me. She reminisces about her days starting out here in her hometown Manchester, “I’m from here so I’ve played here like so many times, I played the ruby lounge the last time I was here and before that I did a residency at the castle and I used to do kind of open mic nights around the Northern Quarter like Trof when I was really young”.  Starting out as a solo artist she left the scene for a bit to put her band together, “wrote a load of band orientated tracks and came back and started doing what I’m doing now.” She describes her genre of music as a “kind of blues meets rock meets jazz meets hiphop. It’s just a mash up of music I like listening to and all my influences.”

Her parents fed her a heavy diet of Blues and Jazz during her childhood, “I really love Jack White and the White Stripes; I grew up listening to Harlon Wolf, Captain Beefheart and those kind of weird old Blues singers that my Dad was really obsessed with and my Mum used to play me loads of Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Jazz.” She also gathers inspiration from her new found love of hip hop, “More recently I’ve got into Kanye West, Jay-Z and Kendrick Lamar and those kind of artists,” but her favorite go to band for inspiration would be the Velvet Underground.

Her unique style of singing is a blend of various singers  such as Amy Winehouse and Karen O,“ I guess when you start singing you kind of imitate who your favorite singers are so I messed around with those kind of vocal styles and came into my own.” She also adds a signature element to her voice through her use of distortion to give this sort of megaphone effect, “Tonight I’ve got a normal mic and I use another one which has a guitar distortion pedal, it’s just a weird sound but it’s becoming a signature thing for me now which is cool.”

She tells me what inspired her lyrics ,“I read a lot of poetry like children’s poetry and war poetry and stuff like that which I find really inspiring.” The inspiration for her hit ‘Greasy Love’ came from “the conspiracy theory that Barbara Bush’s mum had an affair with this guy called Aleister Crowley who said he was the devil and stuff like that which was pretty interesting.” She also finds Google a useful tool, “in the day and age when you can literally Google anything you can find so much information about a topic or whatever’s floating your boat at the time.”  A lot of her stuff is also autobiographical, “It’s therapeutic to write out songs, if you’ve got a lot of feelings bottled up you can release them through your lyrics.”

Her artistic and strange music videos depict quite a lot of random imagery which are apparently lots of fun to make, ”In ‘Off & On’ I wanted to emulate the weirdness of the lyrics. My friend Felix who’s a model was really up for stripping off and messing around with pomegranates and stuff like that. For the ‘Your Sister’ video I got really obsessed with burlesque so I just wanted to try and incorporate as many weird fetishes into the video. The girls that we used were really up for anything, letting me put like hot wax on them and shit. The ‘Greasy Love’ video is kind of a performance video.”

She describes her style as different when she’s off and on stage, “I’m dressed like a scally most of the time, unless I’m trying to impress a bloke or going on stage so I don’t know just whatever’s clean usually. I got this really cool cat suit thing made that I wore in the ‘Greasy Love’ video, a designer made me one, probably the coolest thing I’ve had so far. I don’t really think about it, hoody, trainers when I’m off duty and cat suits and miniskirts when I’m not.”

I ask when her favorite gig was, “I’m hoping tonight’s going to like smash my expectations but we played the 100 club in London which is one of the most iconic venues in London; The Clash, The Sex-Pistols and all those awesome punk bands used to play there all the time so to sell that out was fucking amazing. That’s probably my favorite show to date. I remember thinking fucking hell if I could sell this place out then I’d be really proud of myself so actually achieving that was a good moment for me.”

Looking towards the future Findlay plans to continue making music and touring, “As long as I can keep making music on my terms and touring and travelling and meeting cool people I’ll be happy to keep doing it for as long as people want to put my records out.”

Check out her recent EP Greasy Love.

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