Photo Credit: Sarra’a Abdulaziz
One of the basic foundations of life is adaptability. It’s hard to imagine how we would be standing here today if our ancestors had not wrapped their heads around it, and because of that – most of us have inherited the ability to make do with what we have, even in the more dire situations. Like a few years ago. Everyone had plans ahead of them. I had a trip planned, and New York City’s Natalie Rose LeBrecht had a record to make. Only sitting in a studio with people was taken off the table, so LeBrecht adapted and taught herself what needed to be done to make it work. Now she’s on the verge of her 2023 release, ‘Holy Prana Open Game.’ The new record drops on June 9th, and we talked about that, self-taught lessons, and more like castle decor.
Kendra: As someone who has been creating music since their teens, what would you say has been the driving force of your artistry? Like, what’s continued to motivate you to keep going?
Natalie Rose LeBrecht: I love music with my whole being and I absolutely love making it! Music is the love of my life.
Kendra: You’ve noted that you spent about two weeks meditating before you started working on ‘Holy Prana Open Game.’ I’ve never tried meditation, but am interested in how you feel it benefits creativity?
Natalie Rose LeBrecht: Before I spent time meditating, I lived with a mind cluttered with egocentric “radio stations” perpetually broadcasting in it, and I was unconscious to this as I just thought it was normal to always be experiencing many layers of obsessive mental dialogue, echoes, replays, and fantasies. After I began meditating, I slowly came to be more conscious of the state of my mind and was able to declutter and free it more and more.
Sometimes, if I’ve been meditating a lot, I’ll find myself in a very spacious, clear, relaxed, and present state of mind that is completely receptive. It’s this sort of state of mind that is ideal to create in. When there is a lot of free mental space and clear receptivity, it’s very easy to play and get into an artistic flow. Also, ideas come more freely when one is relaxed. I’ve found that trying too hard is a sure way to stop a creative flow in its tracks.
Kendra: So when you started working on ‘Holy Prana Open Game’ it was March 2020. This is going to be a month and year that lives with us because it’s forever a time marker that we can’t deny shook, rattled, and rolled us. You’d gotten a bit done but then had to follow the rest of the world and work remotely and teach yourself the ins and outs of finishing things up. In hindsight, are you grateful for the time spent learning on your own?
Natalie Rose LeBrecht: I live in NYC, which was the epicenter of Covid by the end of March 2020, and it was certainly very intense. I took about a month to settle into the new reality, and then decided I would work with the circumstances by teaching myself how to complete the album at home. I already had some background in recording, mixing, and editing, but I always took my digital files to a studio engineer to complete the work. So I didn’t have to learn completely from scratch in 2020, but I still had a lot of knowledge gaps, which thankfully, YouTube tutorials and Reddit threads filled in for me.
When I finished the album, I reflected on what a marvel it was that the technology had gotten so good that I could make an album with just a laptop, audio interface, mic, and of course my instruments and collaborators. To answer your question, yes, I am very happy that I had the opportunity to become self-sufficient at producing my own work! It is very self-empowering, especially as a woman musician. Although with AI technology coming faster than we can handle, perhaps very soon, making an entire album will be as fast and easy as microwaving a burrito, and everyone with a smartphone will be doing it.
Kendra: Other than new recording skills, were there any other things you picked up during that year? Baking bread, becoming plant-obsessed?
Natalie Rose LeBrecht: Prior to the pandemic, I mostly ate restaurant food and it had been my goal to start meal prepping and cooking instead, but I was always too busy and tired, so it didn’t happen. During the pandemic, I finally was able to start cooking for myself, which is much healthier, and it also helped me save a lot of money. Now I mostly eat homemade meals and I even bake my own bread!
Kendra: Back to the music, because in “Prana” you mention a castle and I’d love to know if you were going to have a record release at this castle, what kind of decor would you want so that it matched the overall tone and feel of the album?
Natalie Rose LeBrecht: Wow, what a fun question – I love it, and it makes me imagine a glimmering crystal and gemstone garden in a castle courtyard with a big fire pit, fruit trees, a massive herb garden, roses, cats roaming freely, and the scent of jasmine blossoms! The first verse lyrics to the song “Prana” are: “One mile out and not a sign, searching for the castle on the horizon. Ten miles out and raindrops are falling without a cloud in the sky. Rainbow around the sun, rose petal spritz on our halos. Mind to mind…”
The idea of searching for a castle on the horizon is like the carrot in front of a donkey. When embarking on a spiritual quest one typically has something of a material reward archetype in mind because that is the human habitual point of reference, and typically, to grow spiritually involves hardship (which is not an easy sell). But the song’s journey is one where, through the sincere effort of continuing further out through the wilderness (of one’s own mind) with fortitude, one reaches something even more majestic (than a castle) through becoming one with nature itself. A perceptual transformation takes place and another dimension, a sublime one, reveals itself. There was no castle found in the song, but something even better transpired. So I would imagine this record release party happening in another perceptual dimension that is filled with splendor and luminosity. When listeners perceive this dimension, they are filled with love, bliss, and awe, and when the album is played, they exist within the music and become one with it. This is my ideal record release party, haha.
Keendra: Time for a side note: This month I’m asking everyone for a song they listen to when they’re feeling a little lost creativity and are in need of some musical inspiration…
Natalie Rose LeBrecht: Alice Coltrane always inspires me, and one of my favorites is “Blue Nile” – it’s sublimely beautiful with all good vibes and fun melodic character.
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘Holy Prana Open Game’ out on June 9th, what else can fans be on the lookout for as we roll into summer?
Natalie Rose LeBrecht: I’m working on a new album, which I’m very excited about and hope to complete this year. It is primarily a piano/vocal work, but I’d like to invite a few collaborators I have in mind to add some other instruments. After that, I may turn my attention toward performing music live again.