Creative Insight: Natty

He’s the king of the Rebel­ship and Mr Vibes and Pres­sure. He has toured with Zig­gy Mar­ley, lives life as a globe trot­ter, and brought us his favoured songs ‘Bed­room Eyes’ and ‘I’m Alive’. Nat­ty talked to Fringe Fre­quen­cy about his music, his jour­ney and his autumn UK tour.

Nat­ty, how are you?
I am fine, thanks. I am blessed.

Who are your favourite musi­cians? Who’s at the top of your playlist right now?
Jimi Hen­drix, he’s up there. Bil­lie Hol­i­day, Burn­ing Spear. Mid­night is prob­a­bly at the top of my list right now. Maybe even The Con­gos, Yussef Kamaal, a British jazz band. Yeah, I lis­ten to all types of music.

How would you describe your sound?
I wouldn’t describe it. I would leave that to some­one else. Maybe it would be some kind of blend between roots and future. That’s where my head lies.

What inspires your music?
The sun­rise. My chil­dren. I mean, my sur­round­ings, you know, they’re the biggest influ­ences to my music. And music is some­thing that is just nat­ur­al to me. Then obvi­ous­ly, I get inspired by lis­ten­ing to oth­er musi­cians as well. Prob­a­bly my biggest influ­ence on my sound is Miles Davis, who taught me about space between notes, and Fela Kuti, just ’cause the groove. It’s all important.

Your albums are very dif­fer­ent. Almost as if you’re two dif­fer­ent peo­ple. What was the biggest dif­fer­ence for you?
Well, they were released, like, sev­en years apart. I think you can become an entire­ly new per­son in sev­en years. It wasn’t designed that way. But on the first album I had two weeks. We record­ed the album in two weeks. On the sec­ond album, we record­ed in maybe two years. So that is prob­a­bly the main dif­fer­ence. The first album it was just bosh! We put it out. And on the sec­ond one, we took time to care for it, and make sure it was ready.

You’re almost as famous for being a Rasta­far­i­an as you are for your lyrics. How much of an influ­ence does it have over your music?
Yeah, being a Ras­ta has a major influ­ence on my music. I mean a lot of the songs I write come from a mind­set that has devel­oped through becom­ing a Ras­ta or ful­fill­ing it, let me say. I’m not try­ing to be like oth­er Ras­ta men, in the obvi­ous way of inspi­ra­tion. But, in terms of the word sound­ing, the lyri­cal con­tent, and the way we approach music, that is all very much influ­enced by the mind­set and my spir­i­tu­al make-up, which has grown mas­sive­ly since find­ing his majesty.

You write and sing about love and fear. What do they mean to you?
All the emo­tions that we feel, derive from these two sub­jects. These two points of polar­i­ty: love and fear. And so, fear being the biggest and most harm­ful weapon that has been manip­u­lat­ed and man­i­fest­ed in cre­at­ing a soci­ety that is eas­i­er to con­trol. Love is the source of all things great.

You went from being signed to a major label to an inde­pen­dent artist under your own label, Vibes and Pres­sure. Why the change? Any regrets?
Com­ing off of the record label was a neces­si­ty and a must for my state of mind, and just like my bal­ance in terms of cre­at­ing music. It got to a point I was find­ing it very hard to cre­ate music, because of the con­straints, and dif­fer­ent ways of cre­at­ing. The label was try­ing to put their influ­ence onto me. So, yeah, the biggest change, has been the free­dom, the cre­ative free­dom and also hav­ing to do every­thing myself. Which is a good learn­ing for me, because I’ve had things done for me, I’ve been blessed like that. So, yeah, I take all lessons quite will­ing­ly. No regrets.

What’s your favourite part of being a musi­cian? And what’s the worst?
I get to make music. That in itself is the biggest feel­ing. The worst part is prob­a­bly hav­ing to be oth­er things to sup­ple­ment being a musi­cian. Oth­er things such as a pro­mot­er, a social media per­son, all of that stuff.

To date, what’s been the high­light of your career?
Many high­lights, but prob­a­bly the trav­el­ling is the biggest high­light. So, get­ting to see dif­fer­ent places, yeah: India, Japan, parts of Africa, South Amer­i­ca. That’s the biggest highlight.

What advice do you have for aspir­ing song­writ­ers and musicians?
My advice to stay true to your­self. Always fol­low your heart, but try get­ting to know your heart before fol­low­ing it. Don’t base what you’re doing on who you’re try­ing to be. And the rest should just fall in line.

You per­form with your band the Rebel­ship. Can you tell us about them?
My band the Rebel­ship are some of the bad­dest musi­cians around – and not only in the UK, but the world. I’m very blessed to be among them. Jah­mel [Tallis Ites]: tallest, bass play­er, is my right-hand man. He leads the band along­side myself. Then on key­boards we got Calvin [Ben­nion]. He’s a pro­duc­er as well. Everyone’s pret­ty much a pro­duc­er in the band. Then, we got a cou­ple of gui­tarists we use – Leon and James – depen­dent upon the free­dom. And then we got a new addi­tion on drums for this tour, his name is Mar­ley. Wicked drum­mer. Yeah, we’re all friends and it’s like a band of brud­das. I give thanks to the Rebelship.

You’re about to head off on tour. Are you excited?
Yeah! This is what I do: I make music, I tour. So, I give thanks. I’m just look­ing to make it a real­ly good tour and bring love and heal­ing to the tour.

What are your hopes for the tour?
That every­one will com­plete what they say they’re going to do. In oth­er words: every­one learns their part, all the pro­mot­ers do their job, the peo­ple come out, we all have an upful and vibrant time. When every­one does their job, every­thing will be just fine because the music and the vibra­tions take care of themselves.

Your shows are a very spir­i­tu­al expe­ri­ence. Is that an organ­ic result or have you cul­ti­vat­ed that?
A bit of both, I sup­pose. Music has the pow­er to heal. The spir­i­tu­al expe­ri­ence that you speak of is some­thing that is free and lives with­in, and out­side of us. In terms of all of us com­ing togeth­er, there’s a spir­i­tu­al some­thing in the room.

The spir­i­tu­al expe­ri­ence that you speak of is because we’ve worked hard and we know what we’re sup­posed to be play­ing. We play it right togeth­er and because we’ve cul­ti­vat­ed this way of play­ing music that is tight, and it’s also free at the same time. From that we get a spir­i­tu­al expe­ri­ence, which I believe is organ­ic. So, yeah, it is both cul­ti­vat­ed and organ­ic, because I don’t think we can get there with­out work­ing hard, which is the cul­ti­va­tion. But you must open up your mind and your heart to allow it to come for­ward, and that process is organic.

What’s your favourite song to perform?
Prob­a­bly either the first one or the last one that we play on stage because it’s always a moment of clar­i­ty. Recent­ly we’ve been play­ing ‘Release the Fear’ last and start­ing with ‘Gaia’.

What can we expect from your tour?
One can expect a high vibra­tion and fre­quen­cy, well dis­ci­plined and craft­ed musi­cian­ship, and a room full of upward vibrations.

If you can describe your tour in one word what would it be?

What’s next on the hori­zon for you?
The trip to the Ama­zon, the Sacred Jour­ney. We called it Release the Fear: The Sacred Jour­ney. I’ll be tak­ing eight peo­ple with me to the Ama­zon to meet my shaman and my friends out there. So, I’m look­ing for­ward to that, head­ing out a cou­ple weeks after the tour.

Nat­ty and the Rebel­ship’s autumn UK tour start­ed in Man­ches­ter and con­tin­ues until Decem­ber 8. The group are appear­ing at The Garage, Lon­don, on Decem­ber 4. Tick­ets can be pur­chased here.

Image: Kari­na Stevens