Illustrator In Residence: Natasha Natarajan – ‘Women That Changed My World’ (Part 2)

Natasha Natarajan is a British-Indian visual artist funding her autobiographical comic strip ‘FML Comics’ and zine habit through Graphic/Web Design, Illustration, Arts Administration, Education and a career that basically makes no sense on a CV. Natasha holds a BA in Indian History and has worked in the arts in Copenhagen and Scotland. She has recently moved home to London where she is whole-heartedly winging it. 

In the second of this new two-part series, Natasha shares some more of the women in music who have changed her world; telling us what they mean to her, and sharing a unique original illustration.

Women That Changed My World

When I love something it generates a lot of energy in me. In the past I’ve unhelpfully unleashed this energy on various people in my life. But drawing has become a wholesome and productive way for me to deal with it; it feels like a labour of love when I draw someone that’s important to me. I started drawing musicians in 2017 – I listen to their music and draw. As much as possible I try to find a photograph of them playing, rather than a press shot, because I think it’s important to me they’re doing what I love them for. I am so inspired and encouraged by the work of other artists. I hope you enjoy these renditions of the women I have loved!

Erykah Badu
We are all living in a cognitive-dissonance reality. We want to live a certain way or do a certain thing, and we don’t because we are emotionally attached to how the group thinks. The hive mentality takes over. But you know what’s right in your mind and your heart, and if you’re strong enough to detach from the hive then sometimes, just sometimes, you may be able to do the right thing.
Speaking in thevulture.com, 2018

Natasha says:
I just love this sound. I love the way it feels in my body. I will forever be thankful that this music exists and that I have been made aware of it. The combination of heavy bass and a soulful female voice makes me weak at the knees. Under the spell of this music I momentarily forget about my problems. All I want is candlelight and a hug from my speakers.

Find out more: Instagram / Spotify

Sara Tavares
“Be sure you love the art more than you love your ego and start working yesterday. Always be humble, speak less and listen more. Please don’t be vain and proud, it slows your evolution.”
– Speaking in meusemba.com. 2018

Natasha says:
Sara Tavares is a strong embrace on a sunny beach. She makes me want to get up and sway side to side in someone’s arms. I love the atmosphere her music creates. I was obsessed with the lyrics of the song ‘Coisas Bunitas‘ – “Say beautiful things to me… Tell me that my curly woollen hair reminds you of a queen’s crown…” They’re delivered in such a sexy way. The melody completely seduces me. It’s as if someone is flirting with me.

Find out more: Instagram / Spotify

 

Amy Winehouse
“I write songs because I’m fucked in the head and need to get something good out of something bad… There were things I couldn’t say to [Blake], but I never thought, ‘This would be a great song. Who’s going to hear this?’ I thought, ‘Fuck, I’m going to die if I don’t write down the way I feel. I’m going to fucking do myself in.’ It’s nothing spectacular.”
– Speaking in www.spin.com, 2007

Natasha says:
I have an Amy Winehouse poster on my bedroom wall – that’s the kind of fan I am. She gives me the confidence to have feelings and be crassly honest about them. I became fully and proudly female under her guidance. Her lyrical honesty and unpolished voice touch me deeply. She will always be my favourite jazz singer. I love the way she talks about music in the song ‘Half Time‘, it reminds me to be viscerally connected to my art form and helps me recognise the great privilege of having music in my life.

Huge thanks to Natasha for her inspiring words and truly beautiful illustrations! If you missed it, you can also check out Part 1 of her ‘Women That Changed My World’ feature here.

 Find out more about Natasha Natarajan at her website and Instagram page (and her comic Instagram page too). 

FIVE FAVOURITES: Esmé

Australian singer and songwriter Esmé recently released her single ‘Ella’ which I fell for on first listen. The track was named after one of her biggest inspirations and has Esmé’s golden vocals laid over the top of samples of Ella Fitzgerald, broken hip hop beats and textured electronic synths. Esmé is looking to release her debut EP which is expected at the end of 2019 – looking forward to that a lot!

In the wake of the release of ‘Ella’, we asked Esmé to share her ‘Five Favourites’ – five artists or albums that have influenced her songwriting techniques. Check out her choices below, and make sure you give ‘Ella’ a listen at the end of this post!

Amy Winehouse – FRANK
I love this album so much and can listen to it over and over again. This album taught me how to use the simple jazz harmonies I knew and write my own lyrics and melodies to them. Amy uses the most beautiful chord progressions like you hear in ‘I Heard Love Is Blind’ and her rendition of ‘No Greater Love’ is just incredible too. I feel like Amy made vocal jazz new again. She is completely honest and raw in her lyrics and storytelling. This album is also characterised by beautiful strings, beat-less guitar dominant in between songs and one thing that I always love in an album is its connectedness. It’s not a series of singles – it’s a body of work, you go on a journey when you listen from start to finish.

Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough
I discovered this artist and album at the most perfect time. I was writing only with a guitarist (Sean Harlor) and we were both influenced by her honest singing/songwriting, yet drenched in soul style. I love this album for the finger picking guitar elements, interesting phrasing and rhythmically entrancing melodies. There is a song on it called ‘Forget’: it really stretches the overall sound of the album to a darker, more aggressive side and it really inspired me to venture outside of my quietness as a musician too. The most amazing thing though is her voice and lyrics. Listening to Lianne makes you feel like you’re in the same room as her, her voice speaks to your soul. I think it means she is so in tune with her voice and the story she is telling.

Erykah Badu – Mama’s Gun
This album for me is a lesson in groove, performance, using jazz in your own way, feeling your lyrics and owning your sound (voice). I’ve been inspired by Erykah for a very long time, I love her last song on this ‘Green eyes’ – it just grows and grows sonically. Her voice is mesmerising. It sounds like she is giving it her all. I think what you hear, is what you would get live. I always think that about Erykah, it’s like she knows how to transmit her energy from live performance into her recorded work. I think that is a really hard thing to do!

Radiohead
I can’t ever really get over Radiohead – their melodies are actually so beautiful, I love all of their songs and I listened to them a lot when I wrote my second release ‘I wonder’. I think there aren’t many artists that have the same harmonic structure an entire song through but make you feel the shift from verse to chorus so much and so emotionally. I think another artist that does that well is Pharrell Williams… You know, 2 chords or at the most 4, and you’re completely transported when you hit the bridge or chorus. That’s always been amazing to me and Radiohead is a master at it! Their song ‘Creep’ is a stunning example. But I’m not going to list my favourites from them because there’s multiple from each album.

Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass
Ella actually had a really girly sounding voice for a long time, it was still beautiful and entrancing, but it was sort of thinner in resonance and tone. Each album of Ella’s witness her growth as a singer, tonally. Her music with just Joe Pass shows her voice to me in its most beautiful state, full and warm, velvety and husky at the same time. Nowadays we don’t get to witness the journey of an artist as much – we are presented with polished things in every medium. Listening to Ella with Joe Pass, or Gershwin, reminds me of the journey you take to really be good, to develop and grow and eventually sit down with just a guitar and not need anything else. Ella has helped me embrace the journey of my voice as a woman and appreciate each stage.

Thanks to Esmé for sharing her Five Favourites! Follow Esmé for more updates via Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Listen to her single ‘Ella’ below:

Track Of The Day: Hoshino – ‘Stars (In The Night Sky)’

Having received acclaim from the likes of BBC Introducing and BBC Radio 1, as well as wowing crowds at Secret Garden Party and supporting Fickle Friends on tour, Essex band Hoshino are back with a brand new single.

Soaring with the sweeping, soulful power of Elloise Rosemond’s vocals, ‘Stars (In The Night Sky)’ oozes an infectious groove as funk-fused beats flow alongside glitchy hooks. With the emotion-strewn splendour of the likes of Erykah Badu, a sultry electro soundscape is created with an eclectic fusion of sounds – with even some rap thrown in the mix -, resulting in a bewitching sonic delight.

 

‘Stars (In The Night Sky)’ is out now.

 

Mari Lane
@marimindles