story+ interview / LOGAN BRENDT
photo / JEFFREY MARINI
Singer-songwriter Nataly Dawn joins those who have largely benefited from Kickstarter campaigns. Not sure if she’d even meet her original goal of $20,000 in order to help make her debut album, she instead reached an astounding total of about $105,000. Finally able to create her vision, her debut album How I Knew Her will be released February 12th.
Ladygunn caught up with the songstress and recent Starbucks Pick of the Week while she was touring the West Coast with Ben Folds Five. As Dawn discusses the production process of her debut, the assumptions about Kickstarter funding, and a few of her favorite things, our interview is briefly interrupted by the fact that the hotel’s valet is having a bit of trouble with her vintage tour van.
Finding out that “vintage” really means “broken” (the van doesn’t always start and the heater is permanently on) only emphasizes that no matter what luck Nataly Dawn has received in terms of funding, it hasn’t provided a luxurious life. In fact, she recently got out of debt after her album ended up costing more to make than the grand total she raised. Plain and simple, it takes a lot of money to make a record.
Since you surpassed your Kickstarter goal by about $85,000 in order to help make How I Knew Her, were you surprised by the generosity of your fans?
Nataly Dawn: I was honestly addicted to refreshing the Kickstarter page. I just kept watching the numbers go up and it was mind boggling. That was me for 50 days and after 50 days, I was like “What do normal people watch? What else is there to do?” [Laughs.] It was extremely surprising.
Have you experienced any backlash because of you surpassing your original goal, even though you were in debt at one point?
When people think you have money, it’s a very difficult place to be in. I don’t talk that much about money so it’s kind of awkward to have a public budget and have people think that because you made $100,000 at some point, that you eternally have the $100,000 and that you should always be able to pay for whatever you want at top dollar. Absolutely, there has been backlash from people knowing about the money.
While I know that your debut album has been a labor of love for you, was there any particular moment while writing and recording that you wanted to give up?
There were barricades every step of the way. For example, I had set up ten days at a recording studio and on the first day of the recording process, we went in there and all of the musicians were phenomenal, but the drummer was not cutting it. I went home that night after we hadn’t recorded anything good and I was panicking. Every day in the studio cost me $5,000 and I couldn’t give it another day, so I got on the phone and called Matt Chamberlain who was fortunately available and willing to fly out for a couple of days, and also my good friend Louis Cole. At the very last minute, we were flying out extra drummers because I had made a poor choice since it was my first album and I didn’t know what I was doing. There were all sorts of wrenches that got thrown into the machine as we were recording. It took a lot of determination to get over it and keep pushing.
Now that you’ve been touring, what are your must haves while away on tour?
I travel with an insane amount of boots. Everyone else on tour is traveling super light and I’ve got a suitcase full of dresses and boots. I really love my jean jacket and I’m a big scarf person too. Growing up in Europe, scarves have always been a necessary part of everyday wardrobe. I like scarves, it’s nice to have people wondering if you have a hickey or something like that.
I never thought of that. Now every time I look at you, I’ll wonder.
[Laughs.] When I was in college, I was the only person that wore scarves regularly and people always wondered.
Lastly, what are five things that influence and inspire your everyday life?
My boyfriend [producer Jack Conte] and my close friends. I love my 1915 Sears & Roebuck parlor guitar. I also love to cook and one of the hardest things about being on tour is the amount of prepared foods and the lack of cooking. I’m a huge fan of [chef] Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home book. Another important thing is my faith, which is a weird thing to say because I don’t really want to associate it with any hard core religion or anything. But I do pray a lot and that brings me a lot of comfort, and despite what you may practically believe in and practice, it’s helpful to have faith.