NATASHA KMETO (PDX)
Show And Tell
Wednesday, October 13
w/Naturebot (Pleasure Boat, Bonkers)
The Living Room
1355 E. Olive Way
This Wednesday’s Show And Tell features our first special guest from the Rose City – and the first time we’ve had a guest singing live while also performing a live Ableton set, and Natasha Kmeto makes this feat seem so effortless and engaging. Her live reputation around Portland continues to grow as her intriguing and unique mixture of moody electro, IDM, hip-hop, and nu-soul evolves and challenges listener expectations. Remember seeing Jamie Liddel for the first time (before his big-band era), a one-man band armed with deep, sexy beats and crazy synth squeals and basslines both overt and subtle, and a blue-eyed soulman’s sultry set of vocal chords to match? Seeing Natasha Kmeto for the first time at Branx a few months ago had a similar impression on me to the Liddel Experience. Now, on the day of the release of her first full-length release Expressor (available on iTunes and CD Baby), Natasha brings her compelling live show to Seattle at Show And Tell this Wednesday!
Natasha Kmeto – KDVS Live Session (Part 1 of 2)
Natasha Kmeto – KDVS Live Session (Part 2 of 2)
Natasha Kmeto – “Drunk Dial” music video:
Natasha Kmeto (pronounced "kuh-meh-toe") spoke to Verse (host of Show And Tell) about her musical upbringing, challenges to find her voice, and what may be next for her.
SHOW & TELL: You’ve played and toured with other musicians since you were 15. What genres did you start playing?
NATASHA KMETO: Mainly jazz, r&b and rock. Which is funny because I kind of always listened to hip-hop and electronic music. I played classical piano at first when I was very young. I also dabbled in guitar and percussion. But I always loved singing the most particularly though my teens. I loved singing lead but I also was really into to analyzing and arranging harmonies. I fell back in with keyboards and synths when I went to music school
S & T: You completed the Keyboard Performance program at Musician's Institute in Hollywood. What were your initial aspirations when you studied there?
NK: When I first went there I wanted to be like Stevie Wonder and Carole King. I saw myself as wanting to write very classic pop tunes on the piano. But I was also (and still am) completely devoted to music that breaks ground and sounds new. I wasn't sure how I was going to combine those desires when I went but I knew I needed to know more to find out.
S & T: That seems like a challenge to songwriters and producers out there: they can't help but be inspired by legends like Stevie Wonder & Carole King, but oftentimes they tend to sound like their idols. You clearly are inspired by them, but have managed to find a unique voice that, while informed by them, is nowhere near a sheer replication. Was that a challenge to you?
NK: Thank you so much! It was a HUGE challenge. After school I went through a period of wanting to just quit music because I was so frustrated. But upon returning to the drawing board I gave myself the freedom to just let whatever came out of me happen. No rules, no music theory, no judgment. I gave myself permission to just make what I wanted to hear. My only rule was to be genuine. Coming from that place really helped me start to dial it in. And it's the happiest I've even been making music. Just trying to make something that sounded like me. Not like my teachers or idols. Something unique.
S & T: Is that perhaps part of the motivation to explore & experiment with electronic music?
NK: It's a huge part. But I always loved hip-hop and electronic music. I was huge into IDM and trip-hop. And I always had a love affair with bass. I used to sit next to my dad's subwoofer and listen to house music when I was little. For some reason it never really occurred to me to make electronic music until I got to school. We had required digital music classes that trained us in Logic and taught us about synthesizers. I fell in love right then and there. I had always been so jealous of my friends that could make this genius music on an MPC and I could finally do it too plus explore synth waves and the like. Those classes changed my life for sure.
S & T: These days, it’s not always easy to find producers that create intricate tracks in the studio, perform them in a live set AND sing live as well. Has the singing/live PA presentation always been your M.O.?
NK: Absolutely. Coming from a live band background I really always wanted to have sort of a live feel to my set. But I also wanted to have the seamless quality of a DJ set. The biggest challenge was, and continues to be in some respects, making the technology improvisational. The concerts I like best always feature some element of improvisation.
S & T: Did this come natural for you from the beginning?
NK: No actually. I had never used Ableton Live or been alone on stage before. I initially tried it with another person "DJing" with me, but I found that not only did I not like being able to control everything myself, but also people don't like to give girl singers credit for beatmaking. I couldn't handle someone thinking that I didn't make all the music. But I eventually got very comfortable with the software.
S & T: I find it refreshing that you have such a fun stage persona, singing and clearly enjoying yourself while keeping a polished live set together. Do you wish other producers should attempt a similar approach?
NK: Thanks! I think other producers should do what comes naturally to them. I've seen some other artists doing similar things to what I do and I really enjoy it. I think when you introduce the element of live performance, especially with singing, people want more of a connection, so it's fun to be fun onstage. But I've connected deeply with DJs that never spoke a word to the audience too. I guess it's all in your intention as a performer.
S & T: What comes first? Melody? Samples? Beats?
NK: It's been both for me. Sometimes I'll write around a melody that's been in my head or sometimes a sample or chord or beat will inspire the melody.
S & T: Are you looking to expand your live show (similarly to what Jamie Liddel or Flying Lotus has implemented lately)?
NK: I would love to do something like that. Particularly with live drums and live back-up vocals. I love the sound of many voices in a room. It's just much tougher to coordinate.
S & T: Any plans to tour?
NK: I would LOVE to tour soon. It would be awesome to land an opening gig for a bigger artist. But for now I'm hoping to make some trips into California this winter.
Expressor is available today on iTunes and CD Baby!
Expressor and other Natasha Kmeto releases will also be available for purchase at Show And Tell this Wednesday at the Living Room (1355 E. Olive Way).
Music and more information about Natasha Kmeto can be found here: