Dubbed a “mesmerising lilt-pop gem” by The Sunday Times, Liverpool local Natalie McCool is definitely one to watch out for. So, before her gig in Leeds, we caught up with her to discuss her mini UK tour, being crowned a winner in a song writing competition by Coldplay’s Chris Martin, and getting song lessons from none other than the legend Paul McCartney.
By Jane Howkins
You recently released the new track Cardiac Arrest. What is your writing process like?
I used to write a lot on guitar but now I write on synth bass on my laptop. I find writing on bass opens up more room harmonically as I don’t like to get tied down when I’m writing melody. Having some space in the track is good for lyrics too.
What are your thoughts on the music industry at the moment? It seems to have changed rather rapidly over the last few years.
I think social media has changed everything and there is a strange perception that people have of success through social media which can be misleading. When people genuinely love the music and interact and connect that is what I love the most – and for me it keeps music alive and really connects you to your fans.
You’re in the midst of a mini UK tour, and have a show in Leeds. Do you enjoy playing up here?
I have never played in Leeds! This will be my first show and I have heard such great things about the Leeds Brudenell Club – I am really excited to perform there.
Many artists have favourite places they play on tour, do you have anywhere you especially enjoy playing?
I love a venue called the Kazimier in Liverpool, and The Castle in Manchester is a great venue too. Anywhere with a nice feel to it and a great sound system is a winner!
What would you say has been the best or most memorable gig you’ve ever played?
I recently performed in South Korea at Zandari Festa. That was an amazing time – such a great culture and the fans are so so genuine and they absolutely love it!
You really started to gain momentum after winning a national song writing competition judged by Chris Martin of Coldplay, which must have been amazing for you. How did that come about, and did you ever envision winning when you first entered?
One of my friends told me about the competition so I entered and won – it was a really big thing for me, getting such recognition from an amazing songwriter like Chris and not to mention the rest of the judging panel. I feel like I have grown so much as a writer in such a short time, and that was the first big thing that happened to me!
We’ve also heard that you had a song writing lesson with Paul McCartney whilst at University. What was that like, and how did that happen?
He is so down to earth. When you watch him listen to a song and pull it apart and analyse it you can just tell he is an absolute expert. It was an honour to have him look at my songs and encourage me as a writer, just amazing.
If you could play or collaborate with anyone else, who would it be? Anyone else you would like to have a musical lesson from other than Paul McCartney?
It’s sad that it isn’t possible but I would love to collaborate with Jeff Buckley. He is my all time favourite artist. Right now I love Sia, Tove Lo, Lorde, and from the UK Jack Garratt or Wolf Alice – I really respect both of them.
Who or what would you say your main influences are?
My (most timeless) influences for song writing are Jeff Buckley, PJ Harvey, Placebo and Gomez. Influences for guitar playing are Stone Roses, Jeff Buckley, The Smiths. Other bands I have loved for a really long time are Deftones, Kelis, Ben Howard, Andre 3000 and King Krule. Quite a range there.
What are you listening to at the moment, and who would you say your favourite bands/artists are?
I listen to a lot of commercial pop and alt pop so right now – that is my soundtrack. As I mentioned I am really loving Jack Garratt and dare I say it Justin Bieber! I think the stuff he has done with Diplo this year is really amazing and has really influenced his new album.
Why do you think people should come and see you play, and what should one expect from your live shows?
Expect to be singing along a lot in the crowd. Haha. I like for the audience not only to connect with my music and lyrics but to get involved and I love to hear people sing. You’ll go away humming all of the songs and then you’ll just have to buy the album ;-)
Any last words for the fans?
Keep listening. Keep connecting. Peace out!
Natalie McCool played at the Leeds Brudenell Club on Thursday 26 November , 7.30pm