The lady that I am sitting with today deserves some attention. Bring a country infused jazz laced sound to every stage she touches, matched with polished vocals and incredible instrumental she is a complete package. Playing shows on what seems like every night, she is headed out way soon to play the Kessler House here in Indianapolis. I have got the chance to sit down with her prior to her show to learn a little bit more about the girl behind the music. Sit with me today as I introduce you to Natalia Zuckerman.
Is that your real name?
Natalia Zukerman. No middle name. My parents thought Natalia Zukerman was long enough!
How long have you been playing?
On and off for my whole life. I started playing guitar when I was about 6 or 7.
Do you write all your own lyrics?
I do. I am inspired by books and poetry all the time and sometimes a title will creep in or a line here and there.
Where do you get inspiration for a new song?
Today it was from the light in the afternoon and the dog barking to go outside. In other words; everywhere.
What is your first memory of the guitar?
I had really cool teachers in my elementary school growing up in NY and a lot of them played guitar. I was so enamored with the sound and that you could play and accompany your singing at the same time. My parents bought me a toy guitar from Toys R Us for Chanukah one year and I memorized the way that the tuning pegs looked on my teacher’s guitar and then went home and tried to make mine look like that. It sounded terrible of course!
Describe your genre in one word.
Who are some of you biggest influences?
Shawn Colvin, Joni Mitchell, Ani DiFranco, Willy Porter, Peter Mulvey, Rickie Lee Jones, Mark Orton, Kelly Joe Phelps, Bonnie Raitt, Andrew Wyeth, Louise Taylor, and Mary Oliver
What should someone expect at a show if they have not seen you perform before?
I hope I make people laugh and think and escape their worlds for at least a little while.
Are you originally from New York?
Yup. Born and raised.
Do you like living in the big city?
I do. I also love crickets and silence and waterfalls and beaches and mountains. So it’s a good thing I travel for a living!
If you could live anywhere else in the world where would you go?
I just got back to NY. I’m not going anywhere for a while. I’ve lived lots of places; Ohio, California, Italy, Massachusetts. I think it’s more exotic to stay put for now.
Do you think that living in New York helps your song writing?
There’s so much good music in NY and so many people and stories and smells. I am inspired living there for sure.
Tell me about Brand New Frame.
Brand New Frame was the most fun record to make for me so far. I got to work with such incredible musicians and Willy Porter who is a magician and sculptor. I can’t wait to make another one!
What is it like working with Weasel Records?
It’s joyous. I feel like a grown-up. We even have conference calls sometimes!
How long have you been with Weasel Records?
Since my record came out last year on that label.
You are on a pretty heavy schedule this summer. Do you usually tour like this?
It’s usually more actually. I am in Arizona right now working on a few mural projects with an amazing artist named Kris Kollasch. I paint too so I’m trying to find more of a balance with that and my touring life. I plan on still touring but probably less often. I’d like to actually experience the inspiration of that big city!
Do you have any jobs outside of music?
My painting is turning back into a job. I’ve been working for a set painting company in NY and also doing some mural work again.
What is your favorite venue to play?
Oh I have a lot of those. Tops that come to mind are (in no particular order): The Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, Cafe Carpe in Fort Atkinson, WI, Jammin Java in Vienne, VA, The Living Room in New York, Passim in Cambridge, Blue Moon in Bloomington, IL, Schubas in Chicago.
Does anyone ever tell you that you look like Carrie from Sex and the City?
(Laughs) I used to get that almost daily. I think my looks have changed a lot over the past few years. My hair is short now and I’ve…matured. But thanks. I think it’s a big compliment.
What is the largest crowd that you have ever played for?
Probably about 10,000 at the Ottawa Folk Festival.
Well, I played at a friend’s party last week. About 10 people were there.
That chair is in a few of your pictures and I believe your album cover. Does it have some sort of meaning behind it?
Well for Brand New Frame I was thinking about different frames and frames of reference; ways of seeing and literal frames both on pictures, chairs, the body being a frame. I think objects hold their history and I”ve always loved chairs for that. I think they can say a lot. I also really love painting chairs and they show up a lot in my work.
Have you played in Indianapolis before?
I have! I’ve played a number of times in different incarnations; from Indie Indy to Robin Coleman’s series at the Boulevard Place Cafe. I also opened for Catie Curtis a few years ago at The Old Centrum. That was such a beautiful venue!
How do you know Steve Ruemmele?
I met Steve last time I played in Indy at Robin’s series. He and his wife invited me to come play their series and I’m so excited.
Are you excited about performing at the Kessler House?
Do you play a lot of house concerts?
I do. I love them. I think they’re so intimate and wonderful.
What are you drinking on stage?
I usually drink water on stage. I think it’s kinda tacky to drink alcohol on stage. I mean what other job can you really do that? But there’s some instances where I might; real laid back house concerts I’ll have a glass of wine or something. I’m a cheap date, though! Too much and it’s a pretty sloppy show.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I hope that I have my own mural company up and running again and that I’m working full time as a painter and touring musician. I’d also (gulp!) love to be a mom.
What do you want to be remembered for when this is all said and done?
I hope that I am always kind to people.
I always let the artist get the last word. Go.
I hope I get a chance to run on that great path you have in Indy. Forget the name but I got to run on it once a while ago. I love exploring new parts of cities I’ve never seen and that was a great surprise.