Natalie Evans and her sophomore EP, Houses, were a part of the very first Beautiful Songwriting collection back in January 2014; the musical style unquestionably pretty yet highly reminiscential and almost certain to cause rather intense pangs of nostalgically informed sadness. A Lonely Ghost Burning recently caught up with Natalie, who spoke of her fondness for days gone by, being misunderstood and the need, as an independent artist, to split both her time and personality.
When I look back, I tend to focus on happy memories, so it feels sad to be moving away from those times.
Natalie: I practice writing music every day and, basically, when I find something that I’m happy with, I just keep going with it – layering up different instruments and vocal parts until the song’s finished. But, it can take a while to get an idea I like. I can be quite fussy over which ones I actually choose to develop.
Natalie: It depends, really. Some days it’s hard and other days it just comes really naturally – it depends what mood I’m in and what else is in my head.
Natalie: I try and work my life around schedules so that I always have time to write. I usually write first thing in the morning – like, really early – and then in the evening as much as I can. So yeah, I do put a lot of energy into it, but I balance it out with learning new things too, so I try and learn other pieces. The balance of that is really nice, and it takes the pressure off having to be coming up with new ideas all the time. Then when I do come up with things, they tend to be more natural than forced.
Natalie: Yeah, definitely. You can just switch instruments if you’re not getting anything in one, and you can change the mood with different instruments. Yeah, it really helps.
Natalie: I think it’s just expression. I don’t really know what people do with their feelings when they’re not making music or creating art or something.
Natalie: Hmm… I think overthinking things. It’s important to be present when you write music and not be thinking about the end product, so you really have to be completely involved in what you’re doing, which requires a certain mood.
Natalie: Yeah, I just try and stay away from social media while I’m writing and shut myself off as much as I can from other things.
Natalie: I don’t think I write much when I’m in a happy mood. I tend to be feeling nostalgic or feeling upset about something. That’s when my better songs have happened anyway. I still write when I’m happy, but I’m never happy with how it sounds. [laughs]
Natalie: I think it’s always a sad thing, yeah. When I look back, I tend to focus on happy memories, so it feels sad to be moving away from those times.
Natalie: I think it gets harder. I think you tend to want to cling to things you think you were feeling when you were younger, and maybe you weren’t even necessarily. [laughs] Childhood, for me, is connected with feeling free; it all feels less complicated and stressful. I think that’s something that people can identify with.
Natalie: I get very absorbed in what I’m doing… and I just want to be alone until it’s done. [laughs] When it’s finished, it feels really amazing, so if I have challenges during the writing process, the end feeling is so amazing that I just keep doing it.
Natalie: It’s about emotions, insecurities, dreams, getting older, things I want. I try to write lyrics quite literally and honestly, talking about situations rather than general feelings, and I think people connect with that.
People tend to say my music is honest, and I sometimes get messages from people saying my music has helped them, which is really nice. It’s reaching more people that’s the difficult thing.
Natalie: I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like I’ve reached enough people. I seem to be unable to feel content, but it keeps me working all the time, so that’s good.
Natalie: Yeah, I think because my music tends to sound pretty… Underlying, it’s quite sad, and I think people often hear it and think it’s nice and that’s it, but there are a lot of layers to it. So, I think I get misunderstood in that sense. Also, I have so much in my head that I’m writing, and people haven’t heard it yet, so I think people misunderstand me in thinking that I’m the same person I was a few years ago. I’ve got so much to put out there at the minute, so that’s a weird feeling to have.
Natalie: Yeah, it’s really frustrating. [laughs]
Natalie: … Definitely composing. Piano composing in particular. At the moment, I just love listening to string arrangements over piano pieces. I’m interested in how the notes are put together, whether it’s through theory or just imagined. Also, how timeless certain pieces are. Like when you listen to Eric Satie and Debussy – people are still so influenced by them now. I think that’s really amazing.
Natalie: I don’t think about theory when I write; I just write as it comes. I’m trying to learn theory now so that I can have a combination of the two, but I tend to just write what I’m hearing.
Natalie: I like reading books, running and generally really like moving; travelling – being on trains and things. I just feel that is so comforting to me.
Natalie: I like Murakami and Virginia Woolf. The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger.
Natalie: I’m really interested in video game music. I’ve played a couple of video games, but I’m not massively into playing because I’m not very good [laughs]. I’m really interested in how the music works with the games, and it’s something I’m trying to write… I’m not writing for a particular game at the minute, but I’m writing a portfolio for game developers.
Natalie: I think I’ve learnt a lot about myself. You have a weird kind of split personality, because you have to juggle so many things and you think of yourself in different ways throughout the day. Obviously, at my level, I still have to go to work, so I go to work and I’m completely a different person; I come home and I feel like I’m an artist and I get involved with my own thoughts. It’s juggling being quite self-centred around music and then working with people all the time. Also, promoting stuff – that’s a completely different personality as well. It’s really strange, and I think I’ve learnt a lot about trying to just be different people at once.
Also, I’ve just learnt how to push my boundaries and how to keep challenging myself; how important it is to me to be productive, to have these schedules and keep working.
Natalie: Yeah, I think I’ve found over the years – I’m starting to come around it now but I was always quite a nervous person, so being on stage was frightening; being a performer as opposed to someone just writing music on my own was a difficult thing to get over.
Natalie: [laughs] I think I’m a really smiley person, actually. I think I smile a lot for whatever reason.
Natalie: I think it defines me a lot as a person. I’m quite obsessed with music. The songs I put out there are very personal – I think it really does define me.
Natalie: Yeah. It would be nice to have other creative outlets, and it’d be nice to have something else that I love as much, but I haven’t found it yet. I do hope that someday I can find something else too.
Natalie: … [laughs] That’s a really good question… I think it’s a mixture of things. I really don’t know how I’ll feel; I honestly don’t know. I think making it was a big deal, and I don’t know how much releasing it is going to weigh up to that. I really can’t say. It would be nice to get a bigger following, play some better shows and meet some more musicians.
Natalie: It’s changed recently. I really want to have written a big range of different styles. I’m writing piano music at the minute, which is totally separate, although I’ll probably release it under the same name. My favourite musicians tend to be able to do different styles. It must be more fun than sticking to one. Also, just everything being catchy and keeping people’s attention – I don’t like stuff that drags on. [laughs]
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