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Interview: Natalie McCool

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‘The great unknown’. Where is that? What is that? What makes the unknown so great, or the great so unknown? For Liverpudlian songstress, Natalie McCool, it houses her sophomore album.

An immortal capsulation of ‘The Great Unknown’, the place is “in your own mind underneath all the mundane stuff”, she hushes “you just need to look for it!”

Having unleashed her self-titled debut back in 2013, the forthcoming release is best described as “a culmination of stuff that's happened over the last two years but also connects with my life story up until now.”

Above all, “it's about self-exploration, diving into the depths of my own personality and consciousness and seeing what I found there, both light and dark.”

The light froths, it bubbles with angelic harmonies and breezy instrumentation. Uplifting moments dance with one another, all sugared and light-hearted as it captures the beauty and thrills of young love.

As the “most honest selection of songs I have ever written.” Natalie pricks the bubbles, and sprinkles the darkness atop. Piercing lyricism are razor sharp with brewed honesty. “To me that is the most human thing you can do - express yourself in the most honest way possible.”

‘Pins’ is the track that does that the most. Electronic glitches drop around high-pitched vocals ‘you prick and chip away just for fun’. Sonically slick, any cares for this former flame slide off the surface ‘you never had my heart in the end.’

Twinned with unreleased ‘Feel Good’, “they have the same background and story, but taken from a point of view at two different chapters in the story.”

McCool explains, “'Pins' was about the breakdown of a relationship, the actual realisation of what is happening - 'came on like a white hot shock.’ Then putting two and two together and discovering you knew it was going to have that outcome all along - 'I just followed the trail you tread like a thread'.

“With 'Feel Good' though, that's from the objective after it’s all happened and you've had time to ruminate on things. It's quite fierce, spitting out all the bad blood, and almost like a revenge song with all the dirty laundry thrown out.”

As tangible as the shiver of freedom in the aftermath and the punch in the gut, The Great Unknown has all emotions covered. The shoulder to cry on from the best friends, the reassuring words from a colleague or the badass inner monologue. Working with producer Dave Berger, standing out became a “big thing” for the pair. “If a song is raucous it has to sound that way, same if it’s anthemic or bitter or cute.” She says.

From the cutesy-pie dream tale of ‘You and I’, to the fuzzy garage love-song of ‘Magnet’, “there's some really cool surprises on there.”

All sounding completely different, but in the same respect, completely Natalie McCool, the dash of jazz, to warped RnB to cracked fragility combine for an album that is special. ‘Just Let Me Go’ stuns as a pure display of strength, whilst already favourite ‘Fortress’ sounds like it was crafted in a fairy-tale land faraway.

“I want listeners to feel angry when they listen to ‘Pins’ and ‘Feel Good’. Adventurous for ‘Oh Danger’. Emotional and joyous for ‘Fortress’. Raucous for ‘Magnet’.”

Proof that pop music is given an undeserved name, McCool cares to remind the critics that pop is just a shortened name for popular. Somehow this is forgotten today, and pop is often shamed.

“But aside from the word meaning, the actual genre takes influence and spans so many other genres it's amazing.”

She explains that, “I actually think the genre pop has to do with song-writing. If you have a song that just strikes a chord, or is really memorable, or just really popular, whatever the genre it will cross over into public consciousness which makes it pop anyway.”

As a fan of wordplay, a lover of poetry and avid reader of literature; Natalie compares relationships to simultaneous equations, and finds clarity in similes “I do think it has something to do with strong song-writing though. That's why I describe myself as a pop artist because that's what I love and what I do."

Championed by the likes of Radio 1, the pop princess has taken her throne. The Great Unknown crowns subtly emotive tracks with summertime anthems. Glossing the tracks with exciting arrangements and intoxicating flourishes, “the songs are interesting enough to have a lot more depth to them.” Reflecting, “I think this album is more raw and fierce than my first one which is in comparison quite mature, weird the way that happens.”

Having dug down to the core of her heart and soul, and released subconscious thoughts and emotions, we’ve arrived in the place that is both great and unknown. Accept it for what it is, and you might just fall in love.

 

The Great Unkown is set for release 9th September.

Catch Natalie McCool across the UK this September/October




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