Natalie Prass | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Natalie Prass

From Virginia with Love

Jul 10, 2015 Natalie Prass Photography by Wendy Lynch Redfern Bookmark and Share

Natalie Prass has always been fascinated by rock ‘n’ roll iconography. Given that she grew up the daughter of a Motown enthusiast and amateur singer/songwriter father and the fact that her current debut album invokes Stax soul, Dusty Springfield, and big horn-and-string arranged R&B, it is ironic that Prass’ favorite garment is a Kiss T-shirt she says she wears almost every day. And when she met label-mate, producer, and longtime friend Matthew E. White in middle school, despite listening to Diana Ross at home, Prass looked more like a punk.

“Matt likes to say that when he met me, I was wearing a Sid Vicious T-shirt and orange pants,” says the 28-year-old Prass. “Playing the Battle of the Bands in middle school.”

Prass’ route to her self-titled debut started back in first grade when, enamored with her father’s singing along to an acoustic guitar, she asked him what he was playing. When he told her he wrote it himself, it was a revelation and she began writing her own songs. After some moving around as a very young child, Prass’ family settled in Virginia Beach when she was just a few years old. After high school, she received a scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston, but moved to Nashville after a year, having tired of the cold climate and the hustle and bustle of an often-unforgiving city.

“My parents moved to Nashville when I was in Boston,” says Prass. “That’s the reason I had to go there in the first place. I never thought I would end up in Nashville. That’s for country and Christian music, I thought. Then I went there and was very impressed. It is a songwriter’s town. And you can make any place anything you want it to be. So I was like, ‘Yeah, this is where I belong.’”

She completed her studies at Middle Tennessee State University and in the meantime released a couple of EPs, 2009’s Small & Sweet and 2011’s ­­­­­Sense of Transcendence. Both, however, only hint at the direction that would become her full-length debut. Released by Spacebomb, a record label based out of Richmond, VA and run in part by Matthew E. White, who also co-produced her album with Trey Pollard, Natalie Prass is a mixture of Motown- and Stax-esque R&B, featuring Prass’ delicate vocal touch and full string and horn arrangements care of the Spacebomb players (known as The Spacebomb Strings and The Spacebomb Horns). It’s authentic-sounding and fresh, reminiscent of Dusty Springfield’s Dusty in Memphis, an album Prass confesses to only having heard maybe once, as well as the oldies she absorbed at home during her youth. Prass even thanks Dionne Warwick in the album’s liner notes.

“When I bought my first record player, my dad gave me Presenting Dionne Warwick and it totally changed my world,” says Prass. “It’s all the Burt Bacharach tunes. I wore that record out, and it’s still in my Top 5.”

Prass has come a long way from being inspired at an early age, coming up through Boston and Nashville, and also spending much of 2014 touring as part of Jenny Lewis’ band. And as if to start a new chapter, she’s moved yet again, this time to her label’s home base of Richmond, VA.

“I got off tour with Jenny right before Christmas and couch surfed,” says Prass. “All my stuff is in storage in Nashville, so I just had what I had from tour, a suitcase, my gear, and just some random shit. And I was just like, ‘Book my plane to Richmond.’”

[Note: This article first appeared in Under the Radar’s April/May 2015 print issue, which is out now. This is its debut online.]


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World Of Turntables
October 4th 2016

Really great post, thanks for this info !

January 15th 2018

A very nice voice and she also writes her own music