Internationally popular singer working her way to success
Here is our interview with Natalia Clavier, recording artist and vocalist who works with Thievery Corporation and the
Echocentrics, and previously with Federico Aubele.
Natalia had a difficult childhood which she was able to move on from by being persistent and determined. She was able to support herself working many jobs before she became popular as a vocalist, always making the best of difficult situations.
Natalia was also kind enough to let us her into her personal experience of how she was able to free herself of addictions and anxiety by the same determination, and through changing her overall lifestyle and diet.
In additional to all that, Natalia shares with us how her career started and how she gained popularity as an up-and-coming singer by focusing on different styles and different projects, and how that is helping to build her name up in the industry.
Hey everyone! I’m your host Michael Nova and welcome to RiseUp Radio!
We’re here with Natalia Clavier, recording artist and vocalist who works with Thievery Corporation and the Ecocentrics and previously Federico Aubuele. Natalia started her career in Buenos Aires. She has since toured the world and not only has a music story but there’s a lot more to it. Natalia hasn’t had an easy road to success. Before we went on air, Natalia was telling me an interesting story. Natalia, Why don’t you tell us?
I was just remembering a conversation with fairly new friend. I was talking about some troubles, some chores, the fact that i was able to perform at burning man because Thievery Corporation. I was able to have that experience and the first thing I got was “oh my god! you’re the luckiest woman in the world! … You’re so lucky!” My thought was ‘yes I am lucky but I have been very unlucky in the past.’
Under circumstances while growing up, I had happy moments in my childhood, definitely but I had a lot of struggle too. Sometimes I think when I receive these gifts like for example traveling the world and doing what I love that kind of stuff… I think it’s a little bit of a battle. Everyone’s’ like “keep on going and keep on trying and good things will come.”
Going back to the beginning to your music career when you started in music and you moved from Buenos Aires to Barcelona. For all the young musicians out there who are starting out, how did you find your first gigs singing?
In Spain around ’99, there were magazines called Segona ma [in Catalan] “second hand”. It will be the equivalent to craigslist now-a-days. It was an ad section and when I was looking for a job to survive, I had seen this ad saying “We are looking for a singer with native English and dance music productions.
I called the number on the ad and lied because I already knew the average quality of English in Spain when it comes to pronunciation, was pretty bad. Although I never been to the states back then, I learned English by working as a secretary for multi-national corporations.
I was already singing jazz and getting compliments on my English so I called and said my mom was Canadian so my English was perfect. They called me for an audition and I got the job right away.
I think very shortly after I started working with these producers maybe a few into working with them, I confessed and told them the truth that I just have decent English and my mom is Argentine and Italian.
What did they say? They forgave you?
They totally forgave me and I have worked with them for over 10 years. They thought it was really cute that I confessed because I didn’t want to keep that lie. But you have to chase your dream. For some people there are many cases that your dream comes knocking at your door but chances are you’re going to have to pursue it. That was an innocent lie.
When you moved from Buenos Aires to Barcelona, what was that like?
What I was doing at first when I got to Barcelona I was doing jazz gigs for very little money so I had to get a day job. I did many things, I was a baker for pastries and deliver to restaurants on my bicycle. I’m not one of those lucky artists that did what they loved for their entire life. I worked since I was 16 years old and done pretty much everything. I sold health insurance, door to door.
Selling health insurance door to door, was that an easy sell?
Well maybe the fact that I looked 12 when I was 16 helped because I was the one who made the most money. I was able to pay for summer vacations, I was able to rent an apartment with a group of friends. Their parents paid for the apartment but my mom did not have the money so I had to get a job. I accomplished what I wanted to get. It was definitely not fun and not something that I would ever want to do again, ever. But it did the job.
After you finished singing with that first group, singing on dance events and singles, what did you do after that?
Actually I kept doing that until I left Spain even after I met Abuele in Barcelona and started touring with him. With the studio work and the specific raves and the electronic/techno music festivals so it wasn’t a band. I didn’t even use my name, I was just ‘Natalie.’
No pictures or anything because I didn’t want to put my face to those tracks at all. Some of them are actually playing on the radio in Europe. Some of them made it big in the gay clubbing scene which always makes me smile when I get messages from my friends.
When you met up with Federico and you were working with him, how did you hook up with thievery corporation?
I met them because Federico invited me to record vocals for his second studio album, Panamericana. We did that in Washington, D.C. at Thievery studio. Then Eric Helton was producing Panamericana that’s how I met Eric. He liked what I did on Panamericana.
One day we were in the studio talking and he mentioned that there were a couple of songs that they were not currently doing live that could be a good fit for me. Those two songs happened to be my two favorite songs of Thievery. I said “F yeah!” so i learned the songs and had an audition and I was hired. I couldn’t even finish the first verse of the first song and Rob G. was there too and they said “hired!” and the rest is history. That was in 2007.
They were familiar with your voice already they just wanted to see how it would fit together?
Yeah, Eric was. Rob wasn’t. I don’t think Rob heard me back then yet.
You previously said as far as challenges go in your career, your greatest challenge has been financial. With the financial limitations that you’ve had and currently have as an independent artist, how are you able to get the word out about your work? How are you able to get press?
Well I got two record deals. My first album was released by ESL music and they had their own system in the past since the label does not exist anymore how it was before. For the second album it was released by Nostomania Records. They have an in-house P.R. person and that’s how I got the word out. For my third album I am going to do the very first fundraising campaign.
I have everything ready I have a campaign video ready, new songs and demos. I just need to gain a little more confidence and believe that some people will be able or willing to help me make this happen and put it out. I’m most likely going to do it with pledge music. It is a platform for music artists to raise money for their projects. I’m most likely going to do it with Leaf International.
In one campaign I’m going to try to raise money for them as well. They have a wonderful mission and music festival and an educational program for the youth. Leaf International is like a cultural exchange kind of program and they are working on preserving languages in Costa Rica. I really like what they do.
In 2015 i performed in their festival and I was a teaching artist. I taught a workshop for seventh graders and we did a workshop on activists through music and we wrote a song together. they came in during my set and we performed the song together, it was beautiful.
Are you sure of the date that this is going happen?
We are looking into November but it might happen around the middle of October.
Natalia agrees that it is always good to do research on how other successful people accomplished something so that you can follow in the same path to success.
How important do you think it is to be able to network and to meet the right people to introduce to other right people? Do you think the concept of networking is important?
It is important. I don’t consider myself very good at it but it’s never too late to learn how to be better, I need to work on getting better at it.
While working with Thievery Corporation, how has it been performing with them?
It’s been almost nine years. I’m not the same person, the same performer because time passes and life, but they gave me a lot of freedom since day one when it comes to how I present myself on stage, the choices I make, to make the songs mine since I mostly sing songs that singers recorded. For example Pam Bricker, who passed away in 2004, she is the original voice for Lebanese Blonde. Just to name a couple that I usually sing with them.
It has been a good platform for me to grow and to get more confident on stage and be more confident with who I am, stage presence wise. It’s such a wonderful thing to perform in front of large crowds. One lollapalooza I think in ’09, it was over 60,000 people, super loving and devoted fans. That is definitely a great school for any performer.
You have a certification for holistic health coach through the institute for integrative nutrition, have you found that diet and nutrition is very important for yourself as a performer?
Oh yes. I firmly believe in the basic concept of you are what you eat so yes, diet is absolutely important.
What made you decide to become a health coach?
Well when I was Barcelona in 2006, I stopped smoking cigarettes and everything actually. I went for this other drug that i didn’t know was a drug. Its called “sugar” and of course I gained some weight and I had the worst mood swings. One day I was just walking down this little street and saw this sign saying, “Let the delicious foods heal you” and I love food and eating so I thought “yeah lets try this”.
Long story short I was put on a vegan diet that was a combination of Iravetish cuisine with Chinese Madison. In a matter of two weeks I was completely transformed. No more mood swings, and I was blown away by it and that’s when i started reading and investigating by buying books about nutrition. I thought “Okay let’s do this! I am going to study over dietary systems, this sounds super interesting.”
Do you have clients?
No because I don’t have the time. I could have it but not really, not right now with my schedule.
You stated you want your music to heal people and after researching that was the purpose of so project, in your experience how do you think that is possible for you?
N: music is beyond all of us. there is a connection that happens there. its beyond human understanding. so i felt many times that i was going through something and i would go to a show and when i left that show i would feel completely different. whether it was more inspired, or even sadder sometimes. I was able to go through the pain and really experience it and that was cathartic . it was a form of release.
Do you think it’s the energy of the music or is it something else?
Its everything. It’s the energy the vibrations the chakras tuning with the specific frequencies. Nothing is random, I don’t believe in that. I have many proofs throughout my life that reassure that concept. I don’t believe that you randomly go to a concert and you randomly feel all this emotion and physical sensations and you are randomly changed. you had to be there, you had to experience that. you were supposed to be there, you’re always where you’re supposed to be. Its really hard to understand that when you’re suffering.
In all the interviews we’ve done, everyone agrees that this is happening. This is why we formed RiseUp Eight because my belief is as human beings we will naturally fall down seven times because life is hard and we will have setbacks but it’s not how many times you fall, it’s how many times you get up. Its a cliché but it’s true.
When you think about the times you had setbacks in your life, what did you learn from them that made you stronger so that the next time you were able to not take it hard because you’ve been through it already?
I’m going to share something very personal. I recently had very scary episode. I had a severe panic attack, I had to be taken to the E.R. The whole experience was very scary! I really thought, “I’m physically dying.” The day after that I was waking up at 3:30 a.m. to get a 6 a.m. flight to Chicago then get on a flight to Aspen then I played a show that day and after the show it was the first time in my life where I was “oh my goodness I do have power! I am powerful!”.
I thought where I was Thursday night and what I just did and I was overwhelmed with gratitude over the experience. Yes, it was a very scary experience and kind of traumatic but it was a wake up call for me. There’s something that you need to address here. Why are you having this panic attack? What changes do you need to make? You are powerful you got this. That was tremendous and this happened recently like a week ago.
These major life events show you who is there for you in every environment. Your work environment, your friends, your neighbors, and who isn’t there for you. It’s a HUGE lesson and in my case I got a few very sweet surprises. People that I wasn’t expecting to be there for me were SO THERE for me. That was beautiful, and there was people that I was expecting to be there for me were not there for me. It was not as sweet but I’m still grateful for it because now i know and i can move on.
How do you think it’s possible to keep that sense of gratitude going? How can you keep that feeling of power and gratitude so that next time something happens that might be similar or different, you can reach back on this moment of power and gratitude and remember to apply it to the future?
I think that fortunately and unfortunately it is a choice. There’s no secret for gratitude, I don’t have the formula. It’s something you have to purposely do, you can choose to be grateful and focus on the things you have or you can choose to feel miserable for the things you don’t have. It is very simple.
Once you try at least for two seconds to stay on the gratitude side, everything makes sense and you’re most likely not going to want to go to the other side because it feels good almost immediately. as humans, we’re so interesting and amazing and so dumb [laughing].
What advice would you give to musicians who are starting out from your experience?
This industry can be very draining and discouraging especially nowadays. Its easier to get out there because there is the digital world, like the internet but it’ s harder to find people to support you financially because people don’t sell records anymore. I would say use the platforms that you have available to show your work and play as much as you can. Don’t get discouraged.
I had a few stops along the way due to depression and self doubt, that’s one thing that I would say to save time for younger people, don’t doubt yourself, believe yourself. Don’t try to be someone else. Most importantly don’t second guess yourself, your ideas, your taste… Just go for it. That was one of the biggest challenges, “what are people going to say? Are people going to love me? I want to be loved i want them to like me,” That is why social media is so crazy, I started calling it anti-social media [laughing] it isolates people instead of connecting people.
Where can people follow you online?
Speaking of social media, on Facebook it’s Natalia Clavier Official, on Instagram @nataliaclavier and twitter is @nataliaclavier. I have a snapchat account but I think twitter Facebook and Instagram is enough. Snapchat is fun but i don’t do it much.
Thank you for joining us!
That was Natalia Clavier on RiseUp Radio. If you know someone who has an inspiring story that we should interview, please email us at info at riseupeight.org. I’m Michael Nova and thank you for joining us on RiseUp Radio.
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