Interview: Natalie Shay Answers YOUR Questions!

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Since bursting onto the music scene back in 2018, British singer/songwriter Natalie Shay has successfully managed to forge a lasting, and meaningful connection with her ever growing army of loyal fans and followers!

So, as she embarks upon what looks set to be her BIGGEST year yet, we thought we’d give CelebMix readers, along with some of Natalie’s long-standing supporters, the opportunity to ask her a cute little question or two…

What do you consider to be the best show you’ve ever played?
— @haloarmy24 on X

Ooh… can I pick two? So firstly, I’d say my headline show at OMEARA in London last year! It’s always a pinch me moment when I get to play a gig in my hometown, and I can’t help but feel a little bit emotional and sentimental about everything, because not only are all of my family and friends able to come down, but also some of the people who have helped guide me to where I am now. I remember my seeing guitar teacher from year 4 at primary school and I almost lost it (laughs). It was honestly the most special night of my life! Secondly, I’d say the show where I supported Caity Baser at Kentish Town Forum was probably the most amazing gig I’ve ever done! It was sold out, and the atmosphere was insane! Being a support act, and opening up for another artist can be quite daunting, because you’re playing to a room full of people who don’t really know who you are, and the reality is, that can go one of two ways (laughs). But on this particular night, everyone seemed to really enjoy my set and ended up being a really magical evening.

How did you get your start in music, and what inspired you to start songwriting? I only have an acoustic guitar, and need some advice on how to get my name out there!
@mathewcappleman93 on Instagram

That’s a really good question. So I started gigging when I was about 13, and I would do around 3 shows a week whenever, and wherever I could. I played so many different types of venues, and to a real mix of audiences – I’m talking corporate events, pubs, restaurants, open mic nights, festivals, support slots… basically anywhere that would have me (laughs). It was a lot, but those early experiences really helped me to develop my stage presence and decide the kind of artist and performer I wanted to be. At 14 I left my primary school, and went to the BRITS School which ended up being a huge turning point, one because it opened me up to a whole new world of creativity, and two because it proved to people how serious I was about making music my career. From there it was all about working as hard as I could to get my name out there, and truthfully, there’s not one set way to do that. Persistence is key though. And you need to accept that you’re going to have slow periods, and times when it feels like you’re treading water. The the year after I left school, literally nothing happened for me! And then COVID hit, which was obviously a really difficult 12 months for everybody, but you just have to ride out the lulls and quiet spells, if this is something you really want to do. I always say if you’re not sending out 5 emails a day, and if you’re not posting at least twice a week, then you’re not doing enough! You have to be resilient and put yourself out there, and I know that in doing that there comes the fear of rejection, but honestly, if you’re not being rejected then you’re not doing it right! You should be getting rejected everyday! Seriously, somebody says ‘no’ to me everyday, but I honestly think that’s good a thing, because it means I’m being pro-active and keeping things moving. I’m always knocking on doors, and on the lookout to meet new people. So give it your absolute everything Matthew, and don’t give up until you’ve made your dream a reality! 

What one song do you wish you’d written?
Laura Michaels on Facebook

‘Number One Fan’ by MUNA. I love everything about it – the concept, the melody, the production, it’s such a genius song!

If you were a Spice Girl, what would your Spice nickname be?
— Ellie Richards on Facebook

(Laughs) do you know I got asked this once and I said ‘Tall Spice’ because I’ve always thought of myself as being quite tall. But then I realised that wasn’t a massive character trait of mine. So now I’m going to say my Spice Girls name would be, ‘Positive Spice’.

How do you maintain a positive attitude?
— Joey Jameson on Facebook 

Another good question! So who I am now, I’d say I’m a really happy and positive person, but I’ll openly admit in the past, I was the total opposite, and spent a number of years being really quite negative a lot of the time! And because of that, I really struggled to support people, and champion their successes because fundamentally I wasn’t happy with where I was at in my own life. But since I made a conscious effort to change my attitude, and to adopt a more positive outlook on everything, I’ve found that I’m a much happier person. I think it’s really important to be as supportive and optimistic as you can, because putting that kind of energy out into the world helps to attract other kind, like-minded people into your life, which can only be a good thing right? Life is much nicer, and a lot less lonely when you’re positive, trust me. 

Natalie Shay on stage at the Gone Wild Festival in Devon, August 2023. (Image Credit: Dan Clark)

Is there a particular venue you’d love to perform at one day?
— @_loveaims on Instagram

Probably Shepherds Bush Empire in London. I used to go there a lot when I was younger, around the time that I was forming the idea of what I wanted to do with my career, and so I have very vivid memories of standing in the crowd, watching my favourite bands perform live on stage and thinking to myself: ‘that’s going to be me up there one day!’ So yeah, I think it would be pretty cool to play my own headline show there.

What inspires you most to write a song?
—Mary Clarke on Facebook 

I very rarely write about something that hasn’t happened to me, or somebody close to me, so I’d say real life experiences are what inspire me to write the most. I don’t just want to sing a song for the sake of it, that’s not helpful to anyone. I grew up doing musical theatre, so I’m very much into telling stories and acting through song.

Who were your musical heroes growing up? And which artists do you enjoy listening to now? 
@matthewspiers28 on Instagram

Taylor Swift is the reason why I’m doing what I do now. Seriously, I saw her when I was 11 years old, and from that moment on, I was like: ‘I wanna do that!’ I’d been playing classical guitar since I was 5, and also doing musical theatre since I was 5, but I’d never thought about combing the two together, until I saw Taylor perform live, and then it was like: ‘okay, this makes sense, I need to bring these two worlds together and start writing my own music.’ Kate Nash was also somebody I really looked up to, because she wrote songs that told stories, and I found her style of songwriting really inspiring. Then I went through a phase where I was really into indie bands, like The Vaccines, Two Door Cinema Club and The 1975. Now I’m into anything that’s good (laughs). And that can be any genre, or any artist, I don’t limit myself; I just like music that makes me feel something. 

Are you aware of the influence and impact your music has on your fans?
— @kirstieflorence on Instagram 

Oh my god, just hearing that makes me feel so good! It’s kind of hard for me to answer this question, because on the one hand, yes I am aware of the impact my music has on people, because they very kindly take the time to tell me that a certain song of mine has helped them through a difficult time, or inspired them in some way, and it’s honestly the most amazing thing to hear… ever! But on the flip side, it’s really hard for me to take that in, or to think / believe that a little song I wrote could leave such a lasting impression on a person – does that make sense? Whatever, it’s amazing (laughs). I love that music is something that connects us, and it really touches me to know that my music has a positive impact on people. 

Which reality show would you most like to appear on?
— Fiona Bailey on Facebook

The Circle. I’ve always been interested in that show because I’m fascinated, and actually really quite obsessed, with people watching, and analysing their behaviour to see how they react to certain situations. A lot of the other reality shows are too raw for me! I find they provoke people to show parts of themselves that they wouldn’t naturally show, and I don’t know how I feel about that. Personally, I don’t think I’d ever want to be in that kind of enivrionemt.

Natalie Shay – Doing Well (Official Music Video)

How much fun was it making your new music video for ‘Doing Well’, and how long did it take you to edit it?
— Robyn Driver on Facebook

Yeah so I made this entire video myself, which was… a lot (laughs). I mean, nowadays anybody can make a video, and so I know that me creating the clip for ‘Doing Well’ isn’t all that groundbreaking, so for me it was all about getting the editing right and having a bit of fun. I’m not gonna lie, I spent a LONG time on the edit, trying to get it to a point where it was looking really snappy, and interesting, and engaging for people to watch. I wrote the track about the realisation of the journey that I’ve been on, so I thought why not compile a bunch of clips from the journey, and make them into a music video. People seem to like it, so I’m really happy and glad I did it. 

What do you think of new girl bands like RLY, FLO, Say Now and DejaVu?
— @s3db_ on Instagram

Oh I love them! I think it’s brilliant to see a new wave of girl groups rising up through the ranks because we haven’t had any female acts in a while have we? Obviously we had Little Mix for all those years, but then once they went on hiatus it felt like there was no-one didn’t it? I don’t care what anyone says, there will always be an audience and an appetite for girl bands! Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s probably a lot harder for those sorts of groups to get a foot in the door, and I know for a really long time it felt like everybody was trying to replicate what the Spice Girls did – which is an impossible thing to do – so maybe that’s why there’s a been a little bit of a shortage of new girl bands? But I say reinvent the wheel, and take that empowering message of girl power and self-belief that the Spice Girls gave us, and create art thats authentic, relatable and current to now!

What is your favourite film of all time?
— Harley Kirkbright on Facebook

‘About Time’ with Rachel McAdams, and Tom Hollander. It’s set in London, which I love because I always imagine the characters could be me (laughs) but more than that, it’s just this really beautiful, gorgeous film about a guy who has the ability to time travel. 

What three celebrities would you invite to a dinner party?
— Rheanna Hanson on Facebook

Gordon Ramsey because I like his attitude. Taylor Swift because she’s Taylor Swift. And Prince William because I find him incredibly fascinating! His life is so far removed from mine, and everyone else’s come to think about it, so I think I’d really enjoy talking to him, and getting his perspective on a couple of things.

How do you handle pre-performance nerves?
— Kyle Jake Miller on Facebook

So in the beginning of my career, I used to get super nervous every time I performed, and it was a total nightmare (laughs). But I think whenever you do something a lot, you just naturally become more comfortable and confident in you’re ability, and so those nerves that once used to plague you tend to diminish a little, and become much easier to deal with. Now I’d say I get more nervous about the all of the technical things that could go wrong, like the lighting or sound, or an issue with my guitar. But I always tell myself that the people who come along to my shows, are there to have a good time and to support me. They’re not there to laugh at me, or waiting with baited breath for me to mess up or make a mistake, and just knowing that, makes all of that nervous energy I have right before I go on stage disappear. So to anybody reading this, no matter what you get nervous about, always try to remember that the majority of people in this world are kind, and they want you to do well!

What’s been the best opportunity you’ve been given in the last 5 years since you started releasing music?
— @katiiewiillmott on Instagram

What a lovely question! I would probably playing at South By SouthWest in Texas last year. I did a run of 4 or 5 shows, over the course of about 10 days, and even though it was super busy, and I did a lot of press, and a ton of interviews, it was incredible… and maybe the best week of my life! I learnt so much about myself and my own capabilities, and I feel so much stronger for having had that opportunity and experience.

What do you hope to achieve in 2024?
— @JasonMUFC85 on X

My goal is to always try to make each year bigger than the last – both personally and professionally. So musically in 2024, I’d like for this EP to be really well received, and for it to reach places my music hasn’t before. Personally… I just really want to be a really good friend this year. I really value friendship, and I’m starting to understand the importance of having a good core group of friends around you at all times.

If you could say one things to your fans, what would it be?
— @ladybirdnataliee_ on Instagram

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Let us know your thoughts on Natalie Shay over on ‘X’ (formerly Twitter) @CelebMix now!

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