Natalie Alexander is a singer-songwriter from Sonoma County, California who is breaking into the country music scene and already causing quite the stir. She recently released her self-titled EP and is only getting started in her career. I got to chat with the country songstress about growing up in the Bay Area, who her country music icons are, her debut single, “Cruel.”
TYF: When was the exact moment that you fell in love with music and performing?
Natalie Alexander: Music has always been a central force in my life – I’ve been playing piano since I was 8 – but it wasn’t until singing in my high school talent show that I fell in love with performing.
TYF: You grew up in Sonoma County, California which is more so known for their wines than country music. Has the environment shaped your music at all?
Alexander: Sonoma County may be known for wine, but country music is extremely popular. It’s a town rooted in agriculture, and that farming culture is definitely prevalent. I’d say that presence of country music definitely influenced my taste in music.
TYF: How did you know you wanted to specifically be a country music artist and not any other genre?
Alexander: I’ve always loved the country space and admired the collaborative and supportive community of the country music industry, especially among women in the country music industry. It was important to me that I contribute to a genre that embodied those values.
TYF: Typically, I see a lot of country artists move to Nashville to write music and get inspired by the city’s vibrant music scene. Do you picture yourself making that move sometime in the future?
Alexander: I was in Nashville last weekend and I LOVE it there. I could absolutely see myself living there after finishing college. It has a very historic feel to it and also has such fun nightlife scene. It’s really a creative hub which is a huge draw for me. It would be a great move – we will see!
TYF: How would you say you have grown as an artist so far in your career?
Alexander: The greatest growth I’ve noticed is knowing what I want and going after it. When I began, I would ask other people what they thought and trusted my own creative instincts less. I’ve definitely grown into this in that respect. I trust my own gut when making creative decisions.
TYF: Who are some of your favorite country music icons that have inspired you?
Alexander: I grew up listening to Shania Twain, Carrie Underwood, and Taylor Swift. Individually, I think they each have influenced me in a different way. As a female, I look up to each of them and artistically – they are all so talented. I don’t try to copy any artist, but I’ve definitely been inspired by each of them for a different reason and tried to emulate that character in making my own music.
TYF: You said that “There’s a song on my EP for every kind of 2017 country fan.” How would you describe a 2017 country fan?
Alexander: I think there are two groups. There is a younger generation that likes more mainstream country that has more of a pop element, but there is still a large presence of people who enjoy a more traditional country sound. I try to incorporate both in being more modern in sound while making music that is very much lyric-driven.
TYF: What can fans expect to hear about your self-titled EP?
Alexander: This EP is a sampling of what I’m about and features four songs that I feel really connected to, each different in their own way. I try to be as relatable as possible in my message and I think each of these songs can connect to someone.
TYF: How did you know you wanted “Cruel” to be your debut single?
Alexander: Of the four songs I recorded, I felt like Cruel was the most upbeat and musically dynamic song that I recorded, and the fact that it was the most pop-like was an indicator that it had the radio marketability. Also, it was the first song I selected to record for the EP, so it was just a natural choice as the debut single.
TYF: What inspired you to record “Cruel”?
Alexander: Cruel talks about stopping the cycle of hurting others in new relationships, the way you were hurt in the past. I found the song to be really uplifting in its message and it was unique and most importantly, relatable. That’s my main goal as an artist so when I first heard Cruel I felt instantly connected to it and decided it was a message I wanted to share, hoping my audience could relate to it as well.
TYF: I love how elegant your voice blends perfectly with the edgy guitar chords. How did you plan out how the track would sound like?
Alexander: Thank you! I had a great producer and he let me take a lot of directive in making creative decisions, but I also trusted his judgment. We had studio musicians in Nashville record the track and then I recorded the vocals in California, so it was very much a collaborative effort. I wanted to be true to the country sound have my music be seen as genuine, so it was really important to me that the development of the song was very much country (Nashville) oriented. The demo for Cruel had a long intro with some different elements and I decided I wanted it to be a quick fade into my vocal right at the start. This was my coming out of the gates as an artist and I wanted my first release to be reflective of that.
TYF: Can you tell us a little bit about your second single,“I Don’t Want To Catch My Breath”?
Alexander: I Don’t Want To Catch My Breath was a song I fell in love because of the piano. I play piano myself so I was really excited about recording it and being able to perform it live with that instrument. Also, it was written by Hillary Lindsey who is an idol of mine – really songwriting royalty – so it was an honor to record a song she wrote.
TYF: Lastly, if you could collaborate with any country artist who would it be and why?
Alexander: That’s such a hard question! I’d love to write with Maren Morris and Ryan Hurd. They’re both so talented!