Not so black and white with Natalie Duncan


Soulful Brit singer Natalie Duncan has been likened to FKA Twigs and Kelela. Coincidently her latest EP ‘Black and White’ was produced by Liam Howe who has also produced for FKA Twigs.  One of her tracks ‘Kingston’ has us particularly intrigued as it can only be described as giving off a lazy hip hop/trap feel but one to keep you dancing on your feet to no end. 

Stimulate Your Soul chats to Natalie about the progression of her sound, what is was like working with Jools Holland and the truth behind her eyes turning blue. Margaret Tra writes. 

You have a similar style to FKA Twigs and Kelela - how did you progress to this sound?

I didn't really know about Twigs and Kelela when I started writing for the Black and White EP. It  happened about a year ago when my friend and bassist at the time introduced me to a friend of his who was producing in a studio in Stoke Newington. It turned out he was one half of Exmoor Emperor who are 2 lads from Skipton, Yorkshire. They're musicians as well as producers and were a cut above the other people I was working with at the time. I was so taken by their uniquely small drum machine loops and dreamlike synthesisers that I couldn't say no to it. It reminded me of Bibio and James Blake who were regulars on my iPod back then. I think the combination of the melodic production talent and my songwriting and vocals just clicked. We had the pleasure of working with Liam Howe (Sneaker Pimps) for the mixing of the EP – he actually produced Twigs' first EP so that was a happy coincidence. We've written so much now, an album is definitely coming.

You just dropped ‘Kingston,’ tell us about how that song came about.

Kingston is one of my favourite songs we've done because of it's lazy hip hop/trap feel. I was sitting on this Exmoor Emperor beat for ages, not knowing what to write on it and after a drunken night, the lyrics for the verses just came! Musically, the song evolved quite a lot before it became what it is now, it was actually a tough song to get nailed, for that reason it was one of my most enjoyable co writing experiences with them.

Are you working on any new projects?

Always! I never stop writing music and am always collaborating with new people. 

You have been performing a lot! Is there a particular live performance that touches your soul? I hear you did Jools Holland…

Yes I did, Jools Holland is something I'll never forget and I'd love to do it again. When it comes to gigs, I love all of the gigs I do for different reasons. The ones where the crowd is young and rowdy and up for a rave are great but I also love the other end of the spectrum where the entire audience is silent as I'm sat at the piano and after the show, everyone wants to talk to me and hug me, it can be a little bit surreal. The last gig I did that touched my soul was at 'The Wet Fish Cafe' in West Hampstead. It was such a beautiful, small place to perform and I felt very at ease there. (I was applied with wine, food and flowers too...  which was too sweet.)

You also did a track with DJ Q, what was it like working with him?

DJQ was definitely feeling the vocal I did for my track 'Oh My God' and I was fortunate enough to get him to remix it! He basically seasoned the song with some garage and made it fire.

Your eyes go blue?? 

I know, that was weird!! Nah, I have some blue contacts which are prescription, the pointless cat is out of the bag. In all honesty, I'm a bit blind so I wear contact lenses whenever I'm out of the house. (glasses are not my friend) I remember when I was about 13, I wore some blue lenses for a few weeks in school and I got so much attention! It was awful. I was way too shy for that kinda limelight.

What stimulates your soul?

Oxtail cooked by my mum or Auntie, any literature by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, any song by Elliott Smith and of course, cats.