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Kim Hardy (London)

Multi-genre artist Natalie Nicole Gilbert announces new dance pop album Don’t Blink

With the pandemic taking over the world in the past year, it’s nice to see artists have not stopped creating music and art. Los Angeles-based musician Natalie Nicole Gilbert is set to release her new dance pop album, Don’t Blink, not long after releasing her winter-themed album, Warm Winter, last December. She created her new album during the pandemic months with Latin Grammy-nominated producer Robert Eibach, who has also worked with Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift, Camila Cabello and Jennifer Lopez.

Natalie previously released 12 solo albums and an additional seventeen singles, all in genres ranging from EDM to jazz to pop-rock.  In addition to her music, she has more than 10 years in broadcast radio as a radio host and voiceover talent, and has done national commercials for McDonalds, Cadillac, Quiznos, and other well-known brands. Gilbert is also a session vocalist for the Dublin Studio Hub, and film and TV composer with Music + Pictures, whose credits include Law and Order, The Office, and many others worldwide.

We were fortunate to chat with Natalie Nicole Gilbert about her upcoming Don’t Blink album, set to release on February 26th. See her interview below…

Hi, Natalie – congratulations on the upcoming release of your new album, Don’t Blink. Having released over a dozen albums in various genres, what inspired you to release a dance pop album of mainly covers and remixes this time around?

I’ve been really fortunate to be working with Robert Eibach on this project, and with his background in dance remixes for Ariana Grande, JLo and so many others it was natural to dive into his area of expertise. I grew up listening to greats in the R&B and dance space, so Robert and I have a lot of the same sensibilities on what we like to hear added to a song to sweeten the mix.

What was it like working with Latin Grammy-nominated producer, engineer and remixer Robert Eibach?

We’re both introverts so right off the bat we found we speak each other’s language. Robert also listens to and masters a wide range of music genres, so he’s not afraid to dance near the edge of jazz or showtunes in the work we tackle. Due to my background working in radio as a Music Director years ago I have a good ear for what’s radio ready, and given his contemporary work on top Billboard hits he has a great ear for what’s club ready, so it seemed like a very natural collaboration.

On your new album, you cover a wide variety of songs from the 80s smash hit “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister to Demi Lovato’s 2017 hit, “Sorry Not Sorry.” How did you go about choosing the song list?

Anytime I toss a few covers on a project I enjoy a few titles that people from multiple generations will recognize like the two you mentioned, but I also love to include the B side non-released or lesser known cuts like Whatever We Started by Richard Marx and Exhale by Sabrina Carpenter. I often fall in love with the non-radio releases by my favorite artists and it always saddens me that if the label (or artist) decides not to release a song to radio (as many will only release 3-5 songs off an album with 10 tracks or more), that those gems that made it onto the album reach a dead end there. Bringing them to life in a new iteration, switching the gender of the vocalist, adding live strings to something that was all electronica or synth before let’s you reimagine the works of the masters with a different color palette. Apart from that a lot if it is deciding which singles get moved to which albums; Originally Exhale and Sorry Not Sorry were scheduled for a different album, but they were ready early and really seemed to fit this album as much or more as the other project we had them in mind for previously, so it was timely to fold them into this project.

You have one original song, “Morning Light”, on your new album. What was the songwriting process like for that song?

Originally we’d just planned to remix the former version of my dance song Morning Light that I’d released in 2016, particularly since Robert is so gifted with remixes. But at the time I’d tracked the original vocals in my home studio and Robert felt he could update the music track by taking it in a different direction to Tropical House sounds, so rather than work with the old files we started from scratch and recut everything, even adjusting some lyrics. So in many ways, we were covering me and my prior work by rearranging it.

Having worked with a number of film composers and musicians in multiple genres, is there one particular music genre you enjoy songwriting and/or performing the most?

Like anything I think there are seasons. Sometimes I get lost in this dance sphere, other times I feel more pensive or romantic and dive into jazz & R&B, and still other times I enjoy working alone in a more acoustic space for a coffeehouse singer/songwriter vibe. For me it’s less about what genre to lock myself into and more about which genre the song wants to sit in. There have absolutely been times in the studio that I felt like maybe I’d been to adventurous and taken on a song or a genre that was a little too close to the fringe of my abilities, but in the end my fans, collaborators and producer that were hearing early mixes all coaxed me into feeling ready to release these cuts. When I speak at events for fellow songwriters I often encourage others to not stay in that realm where you feel comfortable. If the mix feels a little imperfect to you, if you’re a little unsure if it’s ready it probably is – as perfectionists we will always want another take, another mix, a little more time to polish something, but sooner or later you just have to set the song free and let it find a life of its own so you can move on to your next big thing.

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