Photo Credit: Julian Neel
Austin-based singer-songwriter Natalie Jane Hill is set to drop a brand new album this week. Because of that, we wanted to sit down with her to talk not only about ‘Solely,’ out October 29th, but also decade inspirations, spreading out one’s joy, and more in this back and forth exchange.
Kendra: When did you start to show an interest in music, and how long did it take before you were like, okay – this is my passion and I need to do something with it?
Natalie Jane Hill: I grew up with music being a big driving force for my family. My dad always had guitars around the house and records were always playing on the stereo. I started singing before anything else. I was the kid belting at the top of my lungs on the dining room table with a microphone…very theatrical. Then my older brother started learning guitar in high school and I think watching him learn, sparked an interest in me.
I started teaching myself chords and then cover songs around 15 or 16 years old. I never had any actual lessons, and I do think that led to more creative ways to explore tunings and sounds. But it wasn’t until I was in my early 20s that I started writing my own songs. I did some traveling during then and landed at an arts and music-based farm in western North Carolina. I was surrounded by other artists and music I wasn’t that familiar with. I was constantly inspired and it just sort of went on from there.
Kendra: You’ve noted that your debut, ‘Azalea,’ has this Blue Ridge Mountain vibe. With that said, where in Austin would you say ‘Solely’ sounds the most like?
Natalie Jane Hill: ‘Solely’ sounds like the Texas hill country to me. It’s where I’m originally from and most of the songs were written here when I moved back at the end of 2019. The record was also recorded in a small Texas town and even the album cover was shot at my favorite park in the hill county. There is a warmth to all of it and that feels like home to me.
Kendra: ‘Azalea’ just dropped last May. What motivated you to get to work on the follow-up soon after?
Natalie Jane Hill: Once ‘Azalea’ was officially released, there was this weight that sort of lifted off of me and I felt like I could finally move forward, musically speaking. It just takes finishing one new song and then I’m like, “Oh I don’t hate this, I should keep going.” Once I am excited about something new, I get this rush of motivation to follow that feeling. It was also around the time the world was shutting down and I didn’t have much else going on. I probably also had a lot of emotions during then that I needed to express.
Kendra: So I love everything about “Orb Weaver”…from the lyric “letting go of the comfort I know” to the video because it has this very ‘70s vibe to it, and that era is my favorite in terms of aesthetic. Do you have a decade where your heart kind of resides in terms of pulling artistic and creative inspiration?
Natalie Jane Hill: Thanks so much. That’s hard to say. I feel like I could find something from every decade that resonates with me. I do love the 30s and 40s, especially the romantic aesthetic and the almost haunting music recordings. But the 60s seemed cool too. Especially in the folk music scene.
Kendra: When it comes to the title track, “Soley” is just pure magic from start to finish. There was a lot of lyrical goodness to be enamored with, but I leaned towards the message of not putting all your joy in one basket. Was that a personal lesson you learned in recent years?
Natalie Jane Hill: Oh definitely, and I think it’s something I’m still learning. It’s really easy for me to get excited about a certain feeling but it’s also really easy to get lost in it and sort of forget yourself along the way. Perhaps this song will always be a reminder for me and maybe it will help someone else too. I’ve never really been that brave to share my own advice. I’m always just like “…well what do I know?” But as I get older, I’m realizing that even if just one person can relate or feel understood, then that matters.
Kendra: With the album out at the end of October, what else can fans be on the lookout for from you as we wrap up 2021 and head into 2022?
Natalie Jane Hill: Nothing totally set in stone at this very moment. I just finished recording some vocals on my friend’s record that should be coming out sometime next year that I’m really excited about. As for my own songs, I think once ‘Solely’ is released, I’ll be able to really crack down on writing again. Nonetheless, new music ideas will always be brewing. A big goal of mine is to collaborate more with other musicians and maybe get a band going! I would also like to do a small tour in the new year sometime.