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Get To Know: Natanya

Natanya may only be 21 years old, but she expresses the essence of her artistry without hesitation: “I produce on everything, I write everything and I don’t subscribe to genre”. Shortly after winning the Best New Artist award at the 2023 GUAP Gala last month, the North London producer, singer-songwriter and instrumentalist laid her soul bare on her debut EP Sorrow At Sunrise, an introduction to how her mind paints “real-life stories frozen in time”. Through distinctive phrasing, poetic lyricism and layers of experimental production, Natanya is setting herself apart as a compelling presence in the music scene.

Photography by Emily Almodovar

Born with perfect pitch, Natanya is musical by nature. Growing up with a father who was Motown-obsessed and a mother who loved 80s funk, she inevitably inherited some of her music taste from them. But even though her parents also helped her start developing her craft by putting her in classical piano lessons at age 4, she can only perform in front of them when they’re in an audience: “To this day if they walk in while I’m playing or singing, I freeze and I won’t move until they’ve left the room”.


Having never taken any lessons, Natanya learnt how to sing by copying all her favourite things from the singers she loved: “I didn’t want to do my homework so I did that until I sounded like them. I thought I was just having fun after school”. The uniqueness of her vocals comes from how her mind merges the references she's grabbed from Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse, Billie Holliday and Whitney Houston amongst others, and she is always trying to collect more: “There was a big period of this year where I started learning older R&B songs and practicing runs I wasn’t really doing before because I’m really just trying to expand”.

Describing herself as “an avid listener of things”, Year 9 was “foundational” in expanding the library of sounds and styles that Natanya draws inspiration from today. First of all, her family's move to a smaller flat led to her spending more time outside back then: “I explored a lot by myself. I would go to record shops after school and find music that defined what things meant for me and music that I genuinely liked. It was the first time I felt like I wanted to be my own person, separate from what I had been taught at home”. It was also the year that Frank Ocean released Blonde and Natanya got super inspired to make her own music after using the Deezer trial to listen to it on the bus home from school. Lastly, it was when she met an older jazz pianist at her school who told her about the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy (JJJA): “She was an exceptional player and I asked her how she played like that and she told me that she goes to this place on Saturdays and I could audition if I wanted. That was a big musical moment in my life because I started to really pick up a lot of skills and develop my own opinions on what I thought about music”.


It’s clear from one of her favourite memories from JJJA that Natanya has always been big on production: “There was a beautiful moment at the beginning of each session where we’d each get command of the entire circle of people and that was your moment to make your own acapella composition. It was like being a human version of Logic”.


Although her GCSE music teacher “wasn't too passionate” about what Natanya was making, he was the one who showed her how to use Logic Pro and she immediately became obsessed with playing around on there every lunchtime. While she was doing her GCSEs, Natanya released her first single ‘Sunset Melody’ (2019): “I think that the most important thing during that time in my life was that there was no aspiration behind anything, I was just making songs because I found it fun”. Inspired by the conversations amongst the girls in her year group, she wrote the ‘Sunset Melody’ demo at the piano one day after school. She then shared it with a friend and they worked together in his studio space on the weekends to create the jazzy, neo-soul vibe that the song is today. That friend also knew how to put music on Spotify so that’s how it ended up there. The same thing happened with Blue Jay (2019) a few months later. Taking her time with new releases, Natanya returned with jungle heartbreak song ‘Like U’ (2021) about two years later. Then during her first year of university, she dropped her next single ‘Foolish’ (2022), a fusion of jazz, neo-soul, R&B and Afrobeat. After hitting over 1 million streams on the track, Natanya supported superstar R&B girl group FLO in Manchester and London earlier this year.




For Natanya, creating and sharing her latest release Sorrow At Sunrise has been an “otherworldly” experience. Overflowing with the “emotional intensity” at the heart of everything she makes, the six tracks co-produced alongside Jkarri and Kwaku Konadu explore “the uncomfortable feeling of growing up and the lessons that come with it” through grunge, jazz, soul, R&B, Afrobeat, hip-hop, funk and more. Despite her writing being so personal, Natanya had no trouble sharing these songs with the world: “Once the stories become songs, they are kind of removed from the experience. When each little voice note moves to production in the studio, it’s all about creating a piece, and I want to share that with people”. So in the build-up to the EP, she shared how she sonically processes the complexities of falling hard for someone on ‘Angel’ and feeling afraid of leaving home again for university on ‘Raining Tomorrow’.


Her love of sound design really shone through while making ‘23’, which she wrote after a guy told her she was too young for him: “First I wrote it as an act of rebellion, then I realised how silly that was and it became a parody”. Remembering her Caribbean mother telling her she’s “too fast” had Natanya producing the song with Mario Kart and car noises in mind: “The car crashes at the end of the mayhem, since she’s been too fast. It’s just my version of comedy through a song”. And embodying what it means to ‘make a song your own’, the EP’s concluding track ‘Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes’ is simply transcendent. The rawness of the bridge Natanya adds is just one of the many reasons why people are connecting with her rendition so much: “I was going through a break-up and that was genuinely how I felt at the time. I wanted to scream. I was so emotional and so volatile and I was just trying to reflect that state of mind”.



The beauty and longevity of Natanya's artistry is so apparent because she’s not trying to be or compete with anyone but herself: “Even though I’ve had viral moments and that’s been really cool, building a career isn’t about that. It’s about being able to consistently graduate from where you’re at and do things even better the next time, and that’s what I’m trying to do”. Forging her own musical identity is Natanya’s main focus right now, especially since it sets the foundation for any future collaborations: “I really want to build a good picture of the world that I’m in musically so if someone wants to make music with me, they know what I’m about”. So, next on her agenda is bringing Sorrow At Sunrise to life at her headline show in London next month: “I’m most excited about performing the most grunge-y ones like ‘Parasites’ and ‘Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes’ because I really aimed high with the singing on those. And ‘23’ because of the dance of course”.


Get tickets to Natanya’s headline show on 13th November here.




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