For the past few months, I’ve been exploring the world of music as seen through the eyes of producers, rap artists, and singers. This exploratory time has been an eye-opening look into an industry that so many of us are commercially connected to, but know little to nothing about.
One particular fact of the industry is that there is so much true talent out there. So much, in fact, that sifting through the plethora of musical artists is almost like walking into the Library of Congress – and trying to choose one book out of its 158 million shelf offering.
Fortunately, it has been my privilege to not only listen to, but interact with these talents; the interaction has not only broadened my understanding of each of these artists’ personal experience of music, but also a greater insight and appreciation of music itself.
During this period of exploration, I stumbled across talented singer named Natalie Rogers. She was gracious enough to agree to the interview below.
KW - So, where did you grow up?
NR - I grew up in the Steel City -- Pittsburgh, PA, born and raised!
KW - How long have you been singing?
NR - I first started singing when I was in 4th grade, about 9 years old. Fourth grade was the year that students were able to join chorus in my school, so it all started way back when. I started taking singing more seriously when I was about 16. Then I started taking voice lessons. In college, I was a music major, so I joined a few choirs and received more vocal instruction. I had a lot of amazing opportunities at college and was able to sing as a solo singer for many campus events. Ever since graduation, I've been writing my own music!
KW - When did you first decide you wanted to sing?
NR - I used to be a huge fan of the Spice Girls. I was about 6 years old when they were big. I remember thinking how much I wanted to be in a girl group and sing. Of course being six years old, that can't be taken too seriously. But since then, I haven't been able to shake the idea of wanting to be a singer.
KW - What kind of music inspires you?
NR - It depends on my mood, but I generally like upbeat, positive music with hints of funk. I've always loved pop music and have had a strong liking for funk. More recently, I have gotten into electronic music as well. As long as it's upbeat and funky, I love it!
KW - What other song artists have influenced you?
NR - My main influence is Michael Jackson. His early music was just so catchy and funky that he has heavily influenced me since I was young. I really like Rihanna as well. I think her and I have a similar voice, so I like to draw some of my influence from her as well. Katy Perry is also an influence of mine. I love "Teenage Dream" and "Firework" for reasons such as they are inspiring, upbeat, and fun. Amy Winehouse is also an influence because her music contains jazz influences.
KW - What genre do you enjoy singing the most?
NR - I've been trained in classical and jazz voice, which I both love. But I also love to sing Pop while throwing in R&B/jazz techniques. I think I prefer pop to classical and jazz voice, because I feel like I have more room to be myself and showcase who I am through that kind of music. Classical voice is a more strict technique. I love it, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't truly show the person I am.
KW - Do you write songs? If so, what do your songs focus on?
NR - I do! My songs are mostly about love and having fun. As a person, I'm rather vibrant and energetic, so that definitely transfers into my music. I think it's more fun to write upbeat music. It's always great to give listeners something positive to experience.
KW - How did you first start networking to put out your songs? Was it difficult to get started?
NR - I just tried to put my music anywhere and everywhere that I can. I'm still in the process of "getting started," and yes, it can be difficult. Right now, I am doing most of my networking on social media. I think it is easier for a musician to network by performing in public, but I am still in the process of figuring out how I can perform my music, since I created all of it with just my voice, a keyboard, and a computer; I’m a one-woman show. It's important to keep up with networking, because fans can become disinterested if a musician isn't keeping up with updates. I'm doing the best I can! I wish music could be a full time job for me, but unfortunately I have a job that takes away from the time I can spend on music, but I am doing my best to make it work! Hopefully I can make music a full time gig for me sooner than later!
KW - What is it like to record songs? Is it a difficult process? How long does it take?
NR - Since I only play keyboard and sing, it's takes me maybe a month or two to finish one song all on my own. I have very little experience with recording and no experience with mixing and mastering, so it's a bit difficult. When I write my songs all by myself, it is rewarding and amazing to see the finished product come together. Recently, I have been collaborating with producers, where they create the instrumental, and I come up with the lyrics, melody, and vocals. That is 100 times easier for me, because I am a lot better at coming up with lyrics than with coming up with the instrumental part. I love working with other people! It's amazing to have two completely different talents mixed into one product.
KW - Is your work available to purchase?
NR - Not yet! I am trying to work on having enough songs to create an album, so once I put my first album out, then my songs will be out for purchase, but for now you can check out my songs on SoundCloud!
KW – Thanks for the interview!
While it can safely be said that nearly everyone loves listening to some form of music, not everyone builds their life around the sultry thrum of its notes. Music, for most, is the go-to stress-reliever; what we listen to when we crave artistic entertainment.
There are those, though, that thrive on music, that cannot live without its flow. We all know of singers, both famous and otherwise, who make music their life, but there are other members of this musically focused group that often go over-looked. These members are not singers, but producers and creators of the tunes and beats that singers later brand with lyrics and make their own.
One of these producers graciously agreed to discuss a little of his producing history, and his experience in the music industry, in the interview below:
KW: First of all, thanks for agreeing to do this! Why don't you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself?
D: My name is Drew a.k.a. DrewsThatDude. I'm a 24 year old multi-platinum, Grammy nominated producer and multi-instrumentalist from Hempstead, NY.
I attended Berklee College of Music and I love music, sports, traveling and food.
KW: When did you know you wanted to go into the music industry?
D: When I first started learning how to play bass at about 14/15. I started to learn about the behind-the-scenes aspect of the music industry from my mentor at the time and from that point forward I wanted to make the steps towards making the music industry my life.
KW: How did your journey begin? How did you first start working toward your goals?
D: My friend who I played basketball with in high school was producing music on his computer and he had no music background at all. I, being super competitive, wanted to try my hand at producing that way and he put me up on which programs I should check out, what websites to look into, and we were actually going to start working together, but he ended up moving out of state.
KW: How long have you been in the industry? What is it like? Any ups or downs, positives or negatives?
D: I would say I got my first taste of real industry experience in 2009, so about 7 years. It’s extremely frustrating, but once you get your foot in the door and get things rolling it really is all about how you turn negatives into positives and make the best of annoying or bad situations. Obviously the ups are great you get access to a lot of great music and experiences, traveling, parties, but it comes with its same stresses that most people in entertainment industries go through…High stress work environments with a lot of egos.
KW: What kind/genre of music inspires your work? Who are some of your favorite artists?
D: I would say a lot of fusion genres inspire my music, bands who really try and meld and mix different genres together and can't quite be put into one box. Stevie Wonder, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus, The Mars Volta, Jeff Lorber Fusion Band, Jamiroquai, and various producers of the R&B and Soul genres.
KW: Are there any unknown artists who inspire you?
D: My peers inspire me: Gravez, Fortune, Elhae, SPZRKT, PYRMDPLAZA, Saaj.
KW: Who would you work with if you had the chance? Any individuals or artists you would like to give a shout out to that really helped you on your path?
D: Honestly, I don’t even have a preference. I would love to work with an artist like SZA on a full project though, I think that would come out great. As far as people who helped me out on my path there are tons, but immediately it would be Erik who helps me run the whole operation, Grant Tucker of SCKNOWS who helps do all my art direction, Maryam who helped me decide this was a good idea to pursue in the first place, and all the various writers and website owners who helped cover and press my projects such as ArtisticManifesto.com and Sermons Domain!
KW: Do you have any advice to other aspiring artists? Any "tricks of the trade" you would like to pass along?
D: The best advice is to just always keep working and that you’ll get better with time. I don’t have many tricks but, Evernote is one of the best apps ever for keeping all your files and notes organized!
KW: Thanks again for this bit of insight.
D: Thank you for reaching out and talking with me! People often ask me my production discography,which includes Lil Wayne, T-Pain, Mac Miller, Young Jeezy, Tamar Braxton, Omarion and others. Theres a full list of everything over on my website at www.DrewsThatDude.com and you can keep up with most of my current releases over at www.soundcloud.com/drewsthatdude