Analogue Music | Natalie Schlabs

Natalie Schlabs

By Matt Conner

Her new album doesn't drop until October, but we're too excited to tell you about Natalie Schlabs to wait.

Unlike most who make the trek to Nashville, Natalie Schlabs wasn't intent on making a living as an artist in Music City when she first arrived. However, it was only a matter of time until her natural gifts surfaced enough in a town steeped in the industry.

With songs both personal and poignant, we're excited to hear much more from Natalie in the months to come, including the aforementioned LP Don't Look Too Close. Yet as we sit with new singles like "See What I See" and "Home Is You", we thought it would be an ideal time to shine a spotlight on this new(er) artist.

Analogue: You're not originally from Nashville, so was your move there akin to most other artists looking to make it in the music industry?

Natalie Schlabs: I moved here from Texas and originally I was not here for music. I was curious about getting involved and seeing what would happen, but I really moved here because my now-husband and I were dating long distance and we were ready to live in the same city. I was ready to move and he had a lot of work here, so he said, 'I can't leave.' I moved here to see what would happen with that. I always did music to some degree or another and, at that point especially, I'd been doing a lot of writing.

I was actually a lot more involved in food. I oversaw a cafe in Texas and did the orders and the menus. Then I broke out and formed my own catering company, but catering was starting to dry up. Instead of planting myself there and going hard after it, I was ready for a change. I would put something in the oven that I needed for a wedding that weekend and then I would go and finish a song and come back. [Laughs] It was growing a lot in me but I wasn't really keeping my expectations high moving to Nashville. It just seemed like a fool's errand to me at that point.

"I had to make the decision of whether I was going to let fear of not being good enough hold me back from trying it..."

Analogue: What made you decide to go all in?

Natalie: I think the fire was already going, but I think it was probably meeting certain people. Nashville can be overwhelming because so many people are going after music. Every other barista is a singer-songwriter or maybe it's even every single one. That can be overwhelming, but meeting people who are now my friends in the Americana community, they were really supportive and curious.

I think I was really scared of co-writing or putting myself out there, but I just decided to ask a friend of a friend to do some writing. He was a writer but mainly a producer at that point. We started writing together and then ended up recording a record a few months down the way. I don't know. I had that hunger but was afraid to try. I was scared the first couple years I was here but I was inspired by the community I had to find. I had to make the decision of whether I was going to let fear of not being good enough hold me back from trying it or if I was going to be inspired by the people I saw around me and just try to get better.

Analogue: What was the turning point where the fear was suddenly not enough to dissuade you?

Natalie: I want to say that in 2016 was when things changed for me. I released a record in the fall of 2015, so I had been writing and recording prior to that. I ended up quitting my job as a nanny at the end of that year and started scheduling my week out with co-writes and music opportunities. So I think I got serious about it that year.

Analogue: I know some songs on your new record are steeped in motherhood. Is that true for all of them thematically?

Natalie: A lot of them. It's not only motherhood as a subject, but it's all the things that end up coming up looking at raising a human. I started questioning our values as a family. What do I want to spend my time doing? How do we want to raise him? It's looking at the way my family raised me and what I want to change. It's looking at who we want to spend time with and who matters to us. Being pregnant with him made me question or decide a lot of things. The practice of being pregnant caused me to think of these things in a really different way.

Analogue: Is that typical for you to turn to songwriting to process?

Natalie: Yeah that's definitely one of the ways I work through things. I'm definitely a verbal processor so sometimes I can talk my friends' ears off just working through everything verbally. [Laughs] Songwriting is a really helpful way for me to work through it because I have to sit with myself and my thoughts long enough, and kind of go deep enough, to see what's really going on.

Analogue: Are you ever surprised on the other side of a songwriting session?

Natalie: Good question. A lot of times, I have a subject or framework from where I'm starting, but sometimes it can be really surprising. When I'm doing freeform writing by myself, I allow myself to say whatever or do whatever and that can be a very surprising process. When I'm not thinking too hard about what I'm writing down, I end up saying sometimes more of what I want to say, and that's probably when I'm most surprised by it. Or when I'm sitting down with a terrific co-writer and they can condense down what I'm trying to say or feel, it's like, 'Oh that is what I want to say.' So it can be a really cool process both individually and with another writer.

VISIT: Natalie Schlabs

Photo Credit: Fairlight Hubbard