Nattali Rize is the ever evolving and dynamic front woman of ‘Blue King Brown’ now leads out fresh as a solo artist, with a heavy Reggae influence. Nattali is known for her high energy, thought provoking and uplifting live performances. Her new international band is a Jamaican / Global Mash up of raw energy and vibe that has been rocking hearts, hips and minds since they launched onto the scene in 2015.
Mark Moray from Wicked Rock Photography chats with Nattali from L.A about her up and coming tour of WOMADelaide 2017.
Mark Moray –WOMADelaide will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year where you will be performing. Will you have a new band with you and if so, how different will it be from Blue King Brown?
Nattali Rize –These are very good questions Mark, Yes is the answer for the new band. It is a fresh collaboration between Jamaica and Australia. The Nattali Rize project is a band made up of me, Carlo Santone, the bass player from ‘Blue King Brown’ on guitar and three Jamaican musicians playing Bass, Drums & Keyboards. It will be more of a heavier Reggae / Groove, than to ‘Blue King Brown’. The Nattali Rize project has taken off in a real positive way and the sounds and new material that we have created and recorded in Jamaica, will be brought to the stage at WOMADelaide.
MM – Your last release and video was called ‘Natty Rides Again’, how was this song chosen?
NR – Sometimes you have to go with the movement of the song itself. We have been working on finishing off a new album, which is actually going to coincide with the actual performance at WOMADelaide, which will be exciting for us. In finishing the album, some songs kind of come up and present themselves ready for the world, and this song was “yep I’m ready”. It’s a strong song and a great collaboration with Julian Marley (the son of Bob Marley). We recorded it in Jamaica together with a video. There it was ready for the world. I am really glad that we went forward and spread the word about this project. It gave us fans in the far regions of the world.
MM – So how did it feel to perform the song ‘Natty Rides Again’ with Bob Marley’s son Julian?
NR – Working with Julian was great. He is really a humble man, talented and easy-going. I think the reason why we worked so well on this song in particular is because we already have had a connection in terms of performing a lot of shows together in Australia. We knew each other in that sense, so when we were both in Jamaica at the same time the link up was more natural. We were more comfortable going into Tuff Gong Studios, which is his father’s studio in Kingston to do the recording. What I love about Jamaica and Jamaicans is their inspiration and creative output. This creativity can come really quickly and can be channelled in such away that can manifest as a powerful lyric and sound which has always resonated with me, and that is the big reason why I moved to Jamaica a couple of years ago.
MM – Nattali, you are a strong supporter of “Free West Papua” – Action for human rights in West Papua. What was it that made you decide that this was going to be your choice of cause to make a strong stand for?
NR – For me and ‘Blue King Brown’ have always been shocked by treatment of the indigenous people around the world, and that is because, we ourselves (the band) are made up of indigenous people. We can see what is happening with the injustice, and we don’t want to be quiet about it. The reason why Papua came about is because my immediate community and friends are from there. When I started to learn more deeply about what was actually happening in West Papua, I was just heart broken and felt extremely tied up in wanting to bring change about that situation. For me, my greatest gifts are my music and my words. The one thing that we all have and posses, which is a powerful currency, is simply our time and energy, and when we put that into something we believe in, it will shift it. What we are seeing is that there is a movement for ‘Free West Papua’ that has been shifting and growing and expanding to global awareness. We just started out wanting to let the Australians know what is going on because Australia and West Papua are close neighbours. The people don’t even know the words ‘West Papua’. They don’t even now there is a place of such name where such atrocities are happening, like human rights abuse, tortures and killings, which is still happening today, even now as we speak, and is similar to what is happening in places like East Timor because it is under Indonesian occupation.
What we love to do when we have the chance is to talk about it so we can connect with the people who also have different struggles in deferent parts of the world.
MM – Reggae is recognized as the sound of Jamaica, and very little of it is heard live here in Australia, so what was it that made you believe that this genre of music was how you wanted to spread your message?
NR – It’s true, Australia is about the furthest you could get from Jamaica and I have made that flight many times. Growing up I was blessed that my mother had great taste in music. She listened to Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Santana and Janis Joplin. These were my greatest influences, and I just naturally resonated to sounds of those artists and that era, where the music was soulful and where they were connecting to their higher self and frequency, which was very obvious, and for me you know I felt part of that. You were exactly right, that we don’t get a lot of Reggae here in Australia. It’s just part of the mission here for me. That is the reason why it’s not easy for me being in a band, which is located at the opposite sides of the world, but we are really passionate about bridging that gap in Australia.
MM – Tomorrow (18th Jan 2017) is the release video of your song ‘One People’. I believe this is a very special song to you, why?
NR – Well “One People” for me is a song that if anyone in the world would choose to listen to that I have written, it would have to be this one, because I think the lyrics are so much of what I totally believe in, and the way we should deal with human kindness. I remember waking up one morning in Kingston singing a verse, and by the time I got out of the shower, the whole song was there. I picked up a guitar and wrote the song and I thought, this is a song that I really like. I wasn’t going to record it necessarily but when I started to sing it, Carlo said, “yep we are going to record that one today as well”, so we popped down to Tuff Gong Studios, to record it. There was such a vibe in studio. It was just myself and another guitarist. It was as pure as you would know it. It’s a pure song and pure in it’s intention. The audio is already resonating out there, so we are waiting on the video, which is being released tomorrow.
MM – You have played the Djembe (Drum) and Guitar with Blue King Brown, so which instrument do you enjoy playing the most (if you have a favorite)?
NR – Well I don’t know which one I enjoy the most as they both go well with my vocals and both are enjoyable. The guitar was my first love and that is my instrument. When I picked it up, I had that moment where it was “oh this is what I am going to do” I was thirteen at the time and I hadn’t done anything else. I never had another job other than music. Then soon after that there was the singing and then came the drumming. I love the percussion and drums from all over the world, as they are all bigger forms of expression. They have their own feeling and that is what I love about them.
MM – Finally Nattali, what excites you about being a performer at this year’s 25th WOMADelaide event?
NR – We are really excited about WOMAD because we know that WOMADelaide is the home of music lovers irrelevant of the genre. People are just there for the music, and that is how we feel as well, although we may lean towards artists performing Reggae. We do and try to listen to everything, and that is why I love WOMADelaide. I get to see all the artists from different corners of the planet where I haven’t been able to tour yet. WOMADelaide is a powerful tool to help bring peace about, and hopefully it will help shift towards the Reggae scene in the entire country. We are really looking forward to that.
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