This week on Queers You Should Know, We’ve got indie singer-songwriter Natalie Ceva. Her lyric-driven melodies put feelings I could never describe into verse. Her organic voice pulls you into a diary of sound, intimate and personal, yet also relate-able. See for yourself, check out her newest single “Bone Marrow”.
Hey Natalie, tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up with music ringing through my ears. Seriously… every morning I would wake up to my mom playing Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” on piano. Now that I think about it, kind of a menacing piece as the first thing you hear when you wake up but nonetheless, it awakened something in me that I knew I wanted more of.
Sitting in the back of my parents Aerostar van (if you don’t know what kind of car that is, I highly suggest you look it up. It is a dime piece let me tell ya), I would ask my dad to turn up the Pocahontas soundtrack louder so I can belt along. My poor parents. I grew up in countless choirs, a Capella groups, leading in my high school musicals and writing my own music throughout college.
I feel you, I played the clarinet for 3 years until I realized I was tone deaf. Almost 20 years later & I finally realized why they made me practice at the end of the driveway. ANYWHOO, were your parents supportive?
Yes, they were, but I kept getting told I’d need a backup plan. The chances of “making it” are slim to none. I let these thoughts get the best of me and gave up music for a while. I decided to pursue news/entertainment reporting and found myself on the red carpet but on the wrong side of the rope.
Whoa that sucks… did you ever get jealous or were you fan girling like “OMG RIHANNA?!?!?”
hahahaha No, not jealous but after three years, I realized it was time to go after my own music.
That’s cool and very big of you. Jealousy isn’t cute. What kind of music influences and inspires you?
There are a lot of things that inspire me. I love songs that mean something. Whether that be in the musicians lyrics, melodies or simply tucked away instruments. Mumford and Sons and Jose Gonzalez, a Swedish indie folk singer-songwriter, are fabulous musicians that inspire me through soft voice and powerful words.
When it comes to just simple inspirations, being in the woods and listening to its silence evokes revelations for me. Writing outside before dawn, before anyone is up, with a cup of hot coffee is really all I need.
You’re a way better human than I am. That sounds so peaceful and amazing. Do you write your own songs? Play your own instruments?
Yes, I write all my own music including lyrics, guitar, and vocal melodies. I play guitar and grew up playing the piano. I am teaching myself how to play the Cajon so I can loop all my instruments and basically be a “one man band.” I would also love to learn the violin and that is the next instrument on the chopping block after my EP comes out.
What the hell is a Cajon?
It’s a box-shaped drum from Peru. You play it by slapping the front of it.
That’s awesome. You mentioned you’ve got an EP coming out, tell us more about that.
Yes! I am currently working on releasing my first EP called “Atlas.” We are done recording and it will be coming out this summer. I am so excited! There are five new songs on the album and really looking forward to sharing it with everyone.
I’m super pumped to hear it. Where can I buy your music? I’d also love to see you live.
I will have CDs and download cards on my website which will also be available at my shows for purchase. If you can’t make it to a show but want to check out “Atlas,” it will also be available on iTunes, Spotify, Pandora.
You gotta let me know when it comes out so we can spread the word.
My website will have all upcoming shows on there as well as on Facebook. I will be playing an album release show this summer in Los Angeles and hoping to tour up the coast and eventually across country. So if you have any cool places that you think I should play, please let me know! Feel free to reach out to me, I love connecting with people.
Are you gay? Does your identity impact your music?
Yes, I’m a lesbian. It feels good to say that out loud actually.
Seriously, sometimes I say it multiple times a day just for effect
hahahaha right? It was something that I always knew but didn’t want to acknowledge. I was in fifth grade the first time I realized as I had a huge crush on this girl Mary-Margaret.
Yes hahaha seriously. It grew to drunken kisses in high school and finally started accepting being gay in college. I felt like myself for the first time in my life. So to anyone out there that is confused or unsure, it’s okay. Take your time and know that the majority of the people in your life will not change how they treat you. And if there are ones that do, leave them behind. There is a big community out there who are all accepting. Life’s too short to live behind a mask.
Amen, folks there really is a huge LGBT world out there.
Being gay impacts my music because I write about experiences, relationships or things I am going through. Being gay doesn’t define me though. I’m simply a girl who likes women that plays music. Sure, I have written many songs that are about a heartache from an ex-girlfriend or falling in love with a woman. For example one of my first songs…”Dark hair on white sheets your eyes magnets to mine…touch velvet flushed lips. Just for now no thinking. Hands on my skin, succumb to your everything.”
Damn girl… I’m gonna need a minute after those lyrics. Ever wrote a song about an ex ala Taylor Swift? What was the story behind it?
My exes probably wouldn’t like me to tell you this but yes I have a couple. One song was about putting complete faith into my girlfriend only to find out she was unfaithful and thus my perfect image of our relationship came rapidly crashing down. “Here it goes stripped down right to the core. My heart tied from your kite you swing me back and forth. I was waiting for a sign, walked down another dead end, what no surprise?” This person played a huge role in my early twenties and basically shaped them. We’re actually friends now and she even knows about this song. Get it all out and move on!
It’s amazing how much of an impact early loves have on who we become. What advice would you give to aspiring musicians who would like to be in your shoes?
Stop thinking and do it. Stop saying what if to every excuse that pops in your head. Going after your dream is all mental. It’s a fight within yourself. It’s a fight to tune out the naysayers which includes your inner monologue and believe in yourself. Invest in yourself. People present themselves as hurdles, a job suddenly is the reason you can’t become an actor or it’s too late in life to become an author. Says who? Who made these decisions? No one. They are ideas that we place in our head but are not true. Just keep your head down, start with small baby steps and all you have to do is not stop.
I am not saying that this is an easy task. I wake up at 4:30 am in order to get my practice in before work. Come home on my lunch break to practice if only for 30 minutes. Get home at 6:00 pm and practice for another hour. It’s not ideal and a lot of hard work but its worth every ounce of time I put into it. Because if I don’t “make it,” I know that I put 110% into the one thing that keeps me alive.