GayCalgary.com

Magazine

GayCalgary® Magazine

http://www.gaycalgary.com/a3628 [copy]

Ultra Diva

Ultra Naté super powers up the dance floor

Celebrity Interview by Shane Gallagher (From GayCalgary® Magazine, August 2013, page 43)
Ultra Nate - White Helmet
Ultra Nate - White Helmet
Image by: Karl Giant
Ultra Nate - Hero Worship
Ultra Nate - Hero Worship
Ultra Nate - Clouds Helmet
Ultra Nate - Clouds Helmet
Image by: Karl Giant
Advertisement:

It has been six years since house music’s ultimate power diva has unleashed a fresh collection of beats to the dance floor.  At long last, Ultra Naté returns with Hero Worship, an album that delivers a mighty pop punch, combining her most recent hits ("Everybody Loves The Night," "Turn It Up," "Destination", and her duet with Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams, "Waiting On You") with a slew of sure-fire future club classics.  She’s already showering in praise from critics and fans, all heralding the album for its high-energy and inspiring progressive house.  We sat down with her to discuss the new music, the old music, and to find out where the hell she has been.

GC: It’s been six years since your last album.  Why the long break?

UN: The music industry has been crazy. I was in no rush to release an album until the timing was right.  Things seem to have leveled out a bit lately.  People seem ready to buy music again.  I think they have made the connection that illegal file sharing hurts artists.

GC: "Grime, Silk & Thunder" came out at the height of the online pirating problem.

UN: The industry was already in the tank by the time of the album’s release but I had already done so much work on it.  There was no going back.

GC: Would you have held the release if you could?

UN: No.  This is what we do as artists: we make music.

GC: You’re noted for taking the opposite career path most musicians take. You began your recording career on a major label but have found more success recording with the indies.

UN: Indies are able to operate more freely than majors who have very specific dictates to follow.  However, there are pros and cons to both.  I’m not opposed to doing business with a major if the deal is fair.

GC: It’s been reported that your major tried to push you towards R&B, but that you preferred to go in a house direction so you parted ways.  Is that true?

UN: There was an issue with my second album in that it garnered a solid house fan base.  Warner felt house music was fleeting and they had no desire to cultivate it in the states. We did our best with the next album to try to satisfy our underground audience while broadening the appeal with more R&B/pop songs.  In the end the label didn’t get it and I was dropped.

GC: 1997’s "Free" was your biggest hit in America.   Did you know at the time that you had a hit on your hands?

UN: Not at all.  I knew I wanted it to be different, to stand alone amongst the music that was out at the time.  But that was all we knew.

GC: It did even better in the UK.

UN: I had pop success in the UK long before "Free" because the UK and Europe were always into house and dance music.  There was no disco backlash like here in the states.  It could be played on the radio next to a Michael Jackson or Seal record.  That’s unheard of in the states.

GC: The next year you recorded "If You Could Read My Mind" for the Studio 54 soundtrack.  What is it about that song that resonates so much with dance fans?

UN: There’s a familiarity to it and it’s amazingly catchy.  You can’t help but sing along.

GC: You recorded it with Amber and Jocelyn Enriquez.  Any fun stories from the booth?

UN: I don’t think any of us had the time to really have fun while recording it.  All three of us had hits on the charts and we were running around, touring like crazy.  I remember it was a major feat to coordinate all of our schedules to get us in the studio.  When we did, we got on with recording and had to run off.  Next time we met was when we shot the video that became the end of the movie.  I don’t think I fully appreciated the magnitude of the song until we performed together at a "54" party in Germany.  What a night! They had the white horse, the spoon, Grace Jones...the whole thing. No expense was spared. I felt like I really was at Studio 54.

GC: What life lessons have you learned from your 25+ years in the music biz?

UN: Eventually everything changes: sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.  Life is not stagnating; we are in constant motion.

GC: Why did you name your new album Hero Worship?

UN: It came in a moment.  You know that inner voice we all have?  I call it God whispering in my ear.  It spoke to me. It’s how I’ve named all my albums and then I make the music to tell that story.

GC: Who have been some of your heroes along the way?

UN: My biggest heroes have been my manager Bill Coleman and my first A&R rep, Cynthia Cherry.  They, along with the Basement Boys, championed my career and whatever talent I had long before I did.  Without their nurturing and guidance, I wouldn’t have had a career.

GC: Is there one song on the album that really speaks to who you are today?

UN: That’s tough to nail down to one.  "Right Now", "Save Me", "Turn It Up" and "Journey" all speak to the core of the album’s message.  They make up the total picture for this body of work.

GC: What is the album’s message?

UN: It’s about the importance of giving back.  The unfortunate side of technology and social networking is that it’s designed to be an "I, Me, My" platform.   I think people get carried away with it and lose sight of how important it is to play a supporting role sometimes.   Giving back keeps you human and in touch with reality.  It’s vitally important to the spirit.

GC: If you could give one piece of advice to young Ultra just starting out in music, what would it be?

UN: Do your homework on the business front.  Plant seeds in many places.  Cultivate them over time and most importantly, have fun and enjoy the ride.

By Shane Gallagher

It has been six years since house music’s ultimate power diva has unleashed a fresh collection of beats to the dance floor.  At long last, Ultra Naté returns with Hero Worship, an album that delivers a mighty pop punch, combining her most recent hits ("Everybody Loves The Night," "Turn It Up," "Destination", and her duet with Destiny’s Child’s Michelle Williams, "Waiting On You") with a slew of sure-fire future club classics.  She’s already showering in praise from critics and fans, all heralding the album for its high-energy and inspiring progressive house.  We sat down with her to discuss the new music, the old music, and to find out where the hell she has been.

GC: It’s been six years since your last album.  Why the long break?

UN: The music industry has been crazy. I was in no rush to release an album until the timing was right.  Things seem to have leveled out a bit lately.  People seem ready to buy music again.  I think they have made the connection that illegal file sharing hurts artists.

GC: "Grime, Silk & Thunder" came out at the height of the online pirating problem.

UN: The industry was already in the tank by the time of the album’s release but I had already done so much work on it.  There was no going back.

GC: Would you have held the release if you could?

UN: No.  This is what we do as artists: we make music.

GC: You’re noted for taking the opposite career path most musicians take. You began your recording career on a major label but have found more success recording with the indies.

UN: Indies are able to operate more freely than majors who have very specific dictates to follow.  However, there are pros and cons to both.  I’m not opposed to doing business with a major if the deal is fair.

GC: It’s been reported that your major tried to push you towards R&B, but that you preferred to go in a house direction so you parted ways.  Is that true?

UN: There was an issue with my second album in that it garnered a solid house fan base.  Warner felt house music was fleeting and they had no desire to cultivate it in the states. We did our best with the next album to try to satisfy our underground audience while broadening the appeal with more R&B/pop songs.  In the end the label didn’t get it and I was dropped.

GC: 1997’s "Free" was your biggest hit in America.   Did you know at the time that you had a hit on your hands?

UN: Not at all.  I knew I wanted it to be different, to stand alone amongst the music that was out at the time.  But that was all we knew.

GC: It did even better in the UK.

UN: I had pop success in the UK long before "Free" because the UK and Europe were always into house and dance music.  There was no disco backlash like here in the states.  It could be played on the radio next to a Michael Jackson or Seal record.  That’s unheard of in the states.

GC: The next year you recorded "If You Could Read My Mind" for the Studio 54 soundtrack.  What is it about that song that resonates so much with dance fans?

UN: There’s a familiarity to it and it’s amazingly catchy.  You can’t help but sing along.

GC: You recorded it with Amber and Jocelyn Enriquez.  Any fun stories from the booth?

UN: I don’t think any of us had the time to really have fun while recording it.  All three of us had hits on the charts and we were running around, touring like crazy.  I remember it was a major feat to coordinate all of our schedules to get us in the studio.  When we did, we got on with recording and had to run off.  Next time we met was when we shot the video that became the end of the movie.  I don’t think I fully appreciated the magnitude of the song until we performed together at a "54" party in Germany.  What a night! They had the white horse, the spoon, Grace Jones...the whole thing. No expense was spared. I felt like I really was at Studio 54.

GC: What life lessons have you learned from your 25+ years in the music biz?

UN: Eventually everything changes: sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.  Life is not stagnating; we are in constant motion.

GC: Why did you name your new album Hero Worship?

UN: It came in a moment.  You know that inner voice we all have?  I call it God whispering in my ear.  It spoke to me. It’s how I’ve named all my albums and then I make the music to tell that story.

GC: Who have been some of your heroes along the way?

UN: My biggest heroes have been my manager Bill Coleman and my first A&R rep, Cynthia Cherry.  They, along with the Basement Boys, championed my career and whatever talent I had long before I did.  Without their nurturing and guidance, I wouldn’t have had a career.

GC: Is there one song on the album that really speaks to who you are today?

UN: That’s tough to nail down to one.  "Right Now", "Save Me", "Turn It Up" and "Journey" all speak to the core of the album’s message.  They make up the total picture for this body of work.

GC: What is the album’s message?

UN: It’s about the importance of giving back.  The unfortunate side of technology and social networking is that it’s designed to be an "I, Me, My" platform.   I think people get carried away with it and lose sight of how important it is to play a supporting role sometimes.   Giving back keeps you human and in touch with reality.  It’s vitally important to the spirit.

GC: If you could give one piece of advice to young Ultra just starting out in music, what would it be?

UN: Do your homework on the business front.  Plant seeds in many places.  Cultivate them over time and most importantly, have fun and enjoy the ride.(GC)

Ultra Nate - Epic
Image by: Karl Giant
Ultra Nate - Dark Clouds
Image by: Karl Giant

Comments on this Article