Nineteen Going On Thirty
By A.J. Wachtel
If you haven’t yet heard of this talented young lady, rest assured you will. If you aren’t aware of one of New England’s best unknown artists around today, relax you will be. All things are coming together right now for this future superstar and by this time next year her name will be on everyone’s lips and her music will be on everyone’s playlist.
Noise: As a teenage artist from Wakefield, what do you see as the local music scene’s strongest and weakest points?
Natalie Joly: I think the strongest point of being a musician from Wakefield is that the community is very supportive. Everyone in town is interested in music of all sorts and tries to incorporate live music into any situation that they can. I’m actually fortunate enough to be selected to play on the Wakefield Common on the 4th of July this year in front of 20,000 people which I’m very excited about! I think the weakest point would be in general I wish there were more venues that catered to live music, whether it be in my home town or the surrounding towns.
Noise: Your sound has been described as classic rock, pop with a touch of country. Is this an accurate description and what from each genre do you use in your own music?
Natalie: I think that is a pretty accurate description of what my music is. I have so many different influences from different genre’s and I listen to so much music that it’s hard to really pinpoint myself as being just one genre. I personally don’t consider myself a country artist… that’s because I feel like a lot of the country music that’s out there right now would have been considered rock ’n’ roll if it had been released in the ’70s, and vice versa. If Tom Petty came out in 2015 instead of 1970, he would’ve been called a country musician without a doubt. But back then it was rock ’n’ roll, and that’s kind of where I lie. I feel that being a country musician is a lifestyle, and I didn’t grow up that lifestyle. I grew up on rock ’n’ roll, it just so happens these genre’s are melding together right now. I definitely take a little bit from each genre. The rock ’n’ roll part is where I get my generic feel and instrumentation from, as well as the type of melodies and sometimes strange chord structures. But I also definitely have a huge pop influence in my music when it comes to leaning towards catchy beats and melodies.
Noise: In high school you were part of your school’s chorale, chamber singers and the leader of an a cappella group. Did being a member of these groups help prepare you in any way for going out and playing your own music with your own band?
Natalie: Being in my high school music groups definitely helped prepare me for the real music world in a few ways. For one, it taught me how to lead a group of musicians and how to effectively get the best sound and performance out of everyone. I was then given the opportunity to lead my a cappella group and practice the tactics that I had learned from my own director, so by the time I had my own band I had little tricks of my own to help us perform as a group rather than as four separate musicians on the same stage. Granted, working with high school choral singers is definitely a little bit different than rock musicians, but a lot of the things I learned carried over in how to work and manage effectively.
Noise: You perform as a solo artist and in your band Natalie Joly & Two Cents. How is your act similar in these different settings?
Natalie: My act as a solo musician and my full band are extremely similar but hugely different at the same time. They’re similar because I play the same genre’s and time periods of music in each setting, and some of the same songs actually. But it’s different because of the atmosphere I try to create in each scenario. When I play acoustic, I like to almost be the background music that doesn’t interrupt what people are up to, with the exception of the few music lovers in the crowd. But with my band I’m totally in peoples faces getting people to dance and have a good time. I choose more upbeat, fun songs that the entire crowd can enjoy. But I’d say my general image as a musician stays exactly the same throughout everything I do. I dress the same, do the same hair and makeup… it’s just who I am.
Noise: In your act you do originals and you cover songs from The Beatles, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, The Stones and Norah Jones. This is an interesting mix of artists from two different generations. What attracted you to the specific songs you cover and is there a common bond between these vastly different aged performers?
Natalie: Well I’ve been playing guitar since I was eight, so when I started learning songs I only really knew what my parents knew which was the older rock stuff, and those songs have stuck with me all these years. Two of the first songs I ever learned were “Can’t You See” by Marshall Tucker Band and “Free Fallin’ ” by Tom Petty, both of which are still on my set lists. I learn songs that speak to me musically and lyrically, because I need songs I won’t get sick of playing night in and night out. I think the common bond between the wide range of artists I cover has to do with their great melodies. There are a lot of songs I love that I don’t play out. Just because I like the song doesn’t mean I necessarily enjoy performing it.
Noise: You have a great voice for rock ’n’ rolll – it’s assertive, passionate and very powerful. I’ve listened to your cover of Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like A Lady,” and hearing the words from a female perspective brings new life to this old chestnut. What does this song mean to you?
Natalie: Thank you so much! This song has been one of my favorites for years. Aerosmith is my all time favorite band, and this song always stood out because of how energetic it was. I’ve always loved the instrumentation from the guitar riff, to the horns, to how Steven Tyler’s voice fits right in like a glove. This song actually means a lot to me as a testament to how much I’ve grown as a singer. About four years ago I was asked to record some stuff to send to a producer and show him my voice. I really wanted to sing “Dude Looks Like a Lady” and I just could not pull it off. Didn’t have the range, didn’t nearly have the attitude, and I was a little bit disappointed in myself and basically shelved the song away and didn’t sing it again. When I got asked to perform at the Boston Nightlife Awards I decided to give it another shot and on my first try I could actually sing it without a problem. It was a very proud moment for me, and now I can add it to my repertoire of songs to rock out to!
Noise: Your first CD was released in 2012 followed by your second in 2013. Can you bring us up to date on your latest release?
Natalie: So my first CD was just a self titled album of originals and covers that we recorded in my basement, my second album was half in my basement and half in a studio in Boston, and most recently I released a four-song EP that was recorded all at the studio in the city. I work with my brother and my drummer to help write the parts to the songs before we actually get to the studio, and then I bring in hired musicians to record their parts. I hadn’t released anything in a while, and I’ve been writing consistently all along so this last EP I think was just a little preview to show people what direction I’m going in as an artist. I’m also in the process of recording another four songs completely out of my basement this time, and I might be even more excited about these ones than I was about the last four!
Noise: This is your first new original music in two years. What’s your favorite song on Thunder and why?
Natalie: I have a really hard time choosing favorites within my own music because I really do have a unique love and attachment to every song I write. I think the song that’s gotten the best reaction and appealed to the most amount of people would be “Thunder.” I love every bit of that song and am so proud of the final product, but again I love all the other three just as much and all for different reasons.
Noise: Have you ever had problems as a 17-year-old minor entering a nightclub you are scheduled to play in that night? Care to share a story?
Natalie: If you can believe it, I actually have never had a problem getting into any bar or nightclub. I’ve definitely had my fair share of big black X’s on my hands while I’m on stage, but I’ve never had a problem getting in. I’ve had a lot of fun being underage doing what I do. At my sisters bachelorette party, I was only 15 and we somehow found me a fake ID to get me into the bar with everyone. It was my first time using a fake ID, naturally I was shaking out of nerves. I got in no problem and figured it would be best to keep a low profile, but within the first five minutes the musicians playing took a break and asked if there were any musicians in the crowd that wanted to come up and sing a song. All my cousins pointed at me and pushed me on stage yelling “Go Nat!” when I had just gotten in under a different name right before. I really thought I might get kicked out, but I just started playing and did my best to get people dancing and having a good time… it was an unbelievable night.
Noise: You are also a businesswoman and are part owner/CEO of Lovewell. What does the company do and what’s your own responsibilities in the organization?
Natalie: Lovewell is a jewelry company owned by me and my two sisters Angela and Renee. We each have our own lines within the company reflecting our own style… Angela is boho, Renee is classic, and I’m moto-rock.. shocker right?! Within the company I’m head of production so I’m in charge of putting together the necklaces and fulfilling orders. We all help out with every aspect of the company, but I’m in charge of this end for the most part. I also do a lot with product development and social media, probably because I spend the most time on my phone anyways (smile). I’m blessed that my sisters are so smart and can take care of the parts of the company that I don’t particularly care for, and I’m able to stay up late getting the orders done while they’re putting their kids to bed… we have a great system.
Noise: You are planning on heading down to Nashville this summer to forge forward with your career. What do you have planned and what are your goals there?
Natalie: I’m so excited to move to Nashville! To be honest, I don’t have much of anything planned. I’m going to make sure I have a place to live, and maybe a side job to start, but I’m just moving there and seeing where it takes me. My general goal is to get in front of as many people as I can, whether they be fans, other musicians, producers, executives… I just want to meet people and learn as much as possible.
Noise: Is the reason you are heading to Nashville to move your music more towards an americana vibe and working in the heartland of country music will add more authenticity to your sound? Or are there other reasons you are heading to Tennessee this summer?
Natalie: My reason for moving to Tennessee doesn’t really have anything to do with my personal music. I’m sure meeting new musicians and other writers and just being immersed in that culture will influence me in many ways, but I do not plan on changing my style of music. I actually look forward to finding out exactly who I am as a musician, even more than I know now. I’ve always struggled with the style of music I write because like I said, I have so many influences, so I’m really looking forward to really figuring out exactly what I love to write. The biggest factor that has drawn me to Nashville is how much people down there appreciate songwriters, which is why I feel this is I need to be. I just want to grow as an artist and see what I can make of it.
Noise: What’s in the future for Natalie Joly?
Natalie: I really don’t know what lies in the future for me. All I know is that I’m going to work as hard as I can to make this dream of mine come true. I’m finally at an age and a place in my life where I really can do what I want, and what I want is to make music. To make music that I love, and hopefully everyone else will too.