UK singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Natalie Evans released her second full-length album, 『Movements』on Small Pond in June 2022.
『Movements』 is a fresh new album that builds on the strengths of her previous work, but also takes her to a truly new stage. Rodentia Collective, having released the CD in Japan with Japanese translation, conducted an email interview with Natalie Evans to get a deeper insight into the world of this work through an interview with her.
You can read more about Natalie Evans’ upbringing and musical background in our previous interview (Interview with Natalie Evans 2018 ). In this interview, we go in depth about ‘Movements’. So, enjoy!
About the subject “night”
Q1: When I received the sound files, I listened to all the songs and thought, “I definitely want to make a Japanese version of this album.” I lost count of how many times I listened to it! Of course the fact that the sound
has changed a lot since your last album “Better At Night” (2018), but the lyrics were especially important and I strongly wanted as many people as possible to hear them.
The opening track, “Driving Home Late,” is an appropriate one for the beginning of this album. I have the impression that many of your works have the theme of “night” in particular. Your last album was also titled “Better At Night”.
The last scene of the video for “Driving Home Late” also seems to represent the mood of the entire album. It is the moment before the daytime sun goes down and night falls. What personal feelings do you have about the night? Also, where in the UK did you shoot the video?
[Natalie] Firstly, thank you so much for translating the lyrics to Japanese for Japanese listeners, because as you say, the lyrics are especially important in this album. It means a lot to me that you did that and also put together such a beautiful Japanese edition CD.
It’s true that I do reference night time a lot in my writing. There are so many things I love about night time. I have always loved the look of the lights at night time, on the street or seeing windows lit up, and being able to see into
space which helps me to gain perspective. A lot of my favourite memories and conversations have happened at night time. There’s also less pressure to be productive, so I can take time to rest and to find myself again. I think all of this makes it a very reflective time.
I really love what you said about the moment before the sun goes down feeling like it represents the mood of the whole album, because this is another one of my favourite moments. As well as it being right before night time,
I tend to find calm in in-between moments like sunset, when the things around me are in motion or not yet settled.
The video was filmed in Seaford, East Sussex with the final scene in London.
Music Production during the Pandemic
Q2:This album was made during the pandemic period. During the lockdown in the UK, you must have been going through a very difficult time. In Japan, there was no such thing as a lockdown, but we were restricted by the government to refrain from going out.
So I was really happy to see Instagram live and youtube live as you did. Did the global pandemic change your motivation and other aspects of music production? Also, how did it influence this album?
[Natalie] During the lockdown there were a lot of things happening in my life that made it difficult to find the calm and quiet I needed to sit down and write a song. So instead, when it was allowed I spent time walking around outside listening to music and writing lyrics when I could. I also watched videos on music production and read books that would help or inspire me. Towards the end a couple of friends helped me with places to practice in, and one had a drum kit
which I had a lot of fun with. I wrote ‘Movie’ in one of the practice spaces, and the other songs were written either before or just after lockdown.
What I learned from watching music production videos helped with my demoing process and arranging the album, and I think all of the walking around outside and taking inspiration from what I was listening to fed into how the album turned out as well.
I went to the studio to record the album as things were opening up, although it was still an unpredictable time. I remember feeling so happy loading my car with all of my instruments again after so long, it felt great to be on a music mission again!
About the change in sound of the album
Q3:In this work, the piano plays a more dominant role than in your previous works, which seems to have broadened the range of your expression.
I was convinced that what had been guitar-driven music had moved to the next stage. And I could recognize that this work in 2022 is a new stage for Natalie Evans. So I was very determined to bring it to many music listeners
with confidence. What can I say, it feels like updated music. Do you feel that way yourself now, four years after the last album?
[Natalie] Thank you so much for understanding this and moving with me. I do feel like it’s updated music because it shows other sides of my personality and my more recent influences. When I first started writing songs for ‘Movements’,
I was trying to write in the same intricate style as before but it wasn’t feeling as natural, and I realised I was writing to meet people’s expectations rather than writing from within me. So instead I only worked with melodies or chord
progressions that made me feel something, and ‘Movements’ was the result of that.
With the release of ‘Movements’ I feel like I’ve re-defined myself as someone who could release any style of music, however intricate or sparse, and that’s really liberating.
About the album artwork
Q4: My impression of your music so far is that it is rather pop and energetic. You also sing in a bouncy way. However, my impression of your music this time is different. It is calm, introspective, and melancholy music. Your music is definitely sophisticated. When I listen to music, I also pay attention to the artist’s fashion and album artwork. In this particular piece, your outfit is all in black, chic, elegant and very simple. It seems to correspond with the sound as well. I also feel that you have grown as a human being in it. Why did you choose this kind of mood?
[Natalie] I’m really glad to hear you find my new music sophisticated. I think over recent years I have felt very much in need of calm in my life, which is probably why my music has been this way – I often end up writing the music I
need to hear. I chose the chic and black clothing look, and overall a minimalist looking cover so that the image would also be calming – I wanted it to look tidy and easy to process visually.
About the production of the album and the team around you
Q5: I felt that this album has a very simple structure. Because of its simplicity, the lyrics come naturally to the ear. This is a very comfortable sound. The instruments you use are piano, harp, and guitar, played by yourself, right? According to the credits, there are guests on drums and strings, but it’s not a large team; Rebecca Maisey and Martin Ruffin were also involved on the previous album. What was the reason for such a small team in making the album?
[Natalie:]Thank you. I only had a small team during the recording process because I had already demoed out the songs with their arrangements before entering the studio, and the main reason I would involve more musicians in the studio
would be for collaborating on the creative elements. I felt I only needed this creative input from Martin Ruffin who produced and mixed the album. Yes my main instruments are piano, harp and guitar. I also played bass on the album and some percussion. I find it fun and rewarding to play as many of the instruments myself as I can and I always learn something new from doing that too.
About the title “Movements”
Q6:You mentioned in a previous interview that you did gymnastics as a child. You seem to have a very close connection with gymnastics, as you have a song called Gymnastics in “Houses” (2014). And in the video for “Movie” you did a very graceful and wonderful dance. The title of your album is “Movements”, how is gymnastics related to this work?
I was a gymnast growing up and it was a really big part of my development as a person. During the pandemic I’d been missing that part of myself, but rather than going back to gymnastics I decided to take up dancing instead which I’d always wanted to do.
I started going to the dance studio during the album mixing, mastering and preparation process. Dancing became my main creative outlet at the time because for music I was needing to be more logical. I found it so interesting
how similar the process of creating a dance was to writing a song, and the excitement and inspiration it gave me.
I chose the album cover to be a dance photo (and therefore the title ‘Movements’) because there’s variation in the songs between happy and sad, and I noticed that a single dance photo was able to portray both of those emotions. It also feels like a dedication to that time and to my younger self.
Background on “Guest Room”
Q7:The last track on the album, “Guest Room,” is a passage from…
And in that room I realised Everything I ever felt was Leading to what came next Like winter into warmer months And I felt peace like I was watching a plane window turn into a mirror Everything’s okay when it’s in equal balance It’s funny how artificial light looks so good in the distance
I was particularly moved by this part. In the opening song “Driving Home Late,” you express “the struggle to move forward while feeling insecure about what you are doing,” and in the ending you sing, “Everything I ever felt was Leading to what came next “ The message of this last song seems to unify the work. If you don’t mind me asking, can you tell us the background of this song?
I wrote this song when I was staying in my friends’ guest room for a few months in between places. It was a roof room and they had these beautiful windows where you could look straight up into the sky.
I wrote most of Guest Room in one evening there, when I was just staring up and reflecting on so many things. There was a newness in the feeling of peace and happiness in contrast to the place I’d been staying in before,
and I felt like everything was possible again, almost like the beginning of spring. It was another in-between moment because it was before I’d got used to being there. I think I often have a lot to say in these moments, so I just kept writing, making the most of it until I ended up with the complete song.
Would you like to add anything to your fans in Japan?
It makes me so happy to see my music reaching you. I really hope to come out and play to you one day.
Thank you so much for your support.
Thank you very much to Rodentia Collective for your thoughtful questions.