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Natalie Imbruglia in interview

On covering Male voices and discovering the online market

© by Natalie Imbruglia

Vienna, June 27 – The legendary Donauinselfest / Danube Island Festival – is an institution in Vienna, Austria and all over Central Europe. It started 32 years ago and is the biggest free open-air festival in Europe. And it’s so easy to get to! It’s only 10 minutes by metro from the city centre. We love the Donauinselfest!

I’ve got my training wheels on!

Luckily for us, Natalie Imbruglia, who rarely makes appearances at festivals, loves the Donauinselfest too! We met her at the main stage after sound check. While waiting backstage we could hear her rehearsing Torn. I have a confession to make — I’m the same age as Natalie Imbruglia and in 1997 I used to wear my hair like hers in the video for Torn. You may say I’m nostalgic but hearing Torn again gave me goose bumps!

We asked Natalie Imbruglia about the coming album Male, where she covers songs that were originally made famous by male vocals, from Daft Punk to Neil Young, from The Cure to Cat Stevens. We were also curious about the songs she chose for the album.

And of course we asked her what she thinks of the music business in today’s online market. Natalie Imbruglia’s last album was released over five years ago and the market has undoubtedly changed since then. Male will be her first album to receive an international release for download only.

Before we started we discussed the digital music market and how, on one end, artists are being ripped off of their revenue, while on the other end the costs and added value of running an online business are not really acknowledged by the users.

Natalie Imbruglia was candid enough to confess that the digital era is somehow new territory for her too, and that she’s curious of how her first download-only release will be received. Male was internationally released in July 2015.

Video Interview Transcript:

In your new album Male you cover songs that were made famous by male voices. What was the challenge?
Natalie Imbruglia: To be honest with you it was a really fun experience in general. Most of it was done in Connecticut (USA) at my producer’s house, Billy Mann. I had a really long list with artists, my manager had a list, Billy had a list… so we were battling out which song was going to make the cut.

Initially we had females as well, but I found it was much more fun and less intimidating for me to sing songs by the male artists because, as a woman, the interpretation is different straight away. It just makes for more interesting takes of the songs. That’s where I started from and then it became a little bit thematic, the subject started to be very story-telling, songs about love, love-loss, hope for love for the future, and that helped with the song choices.

‘Cos really I could have made 10 covers albums! There are so many songs out there!

Really the biggest task was cutting down the list?!
NI: Yeah! And deciding what is going to be the mood and theme for this particular one. Otherwise, the list is endless!

Global Rockstar is very interested in distribution. Male will be internationally released in August as a digital download only. How do you see this development towards online distribution? Positive, negative, both?
NI: I think it’s positive! For me it’s been five years since I released an album and the industry is very different so I’ve got my training wheels on! For me it’s all very new and exciting. I’m interested to see the differences. What’s been fun, though, is having that direct access with the fans and I think, for new artists, to be able to be seen by their fans straight away and having their music online is great. But also I think it’s important that artists earn a living and that there is emphasis put towards the artist being able to earn money from their music so… completely free? Hmm… I think there is an in-between where everyone wins.

Today’s fans are used to consuming music for free or almost free. Is it possible to reverse this behavior? To make fans recognize a higher value in music?
NI: Well, I think with the whole Apple-thing going on with Taylor Swift you never know what’s coming… there’s going to be a lot of artists up in arms about certain things and fighting for their rights – which I think is important.

And it is true, we need to put a value on that! I don’t think that artists should not be paid for their music, but like you said, there still needs to be access, we need to move the times, and people being able to have access immediately is very good. A middle ground needs to be found, that works for both.

Global Rockstar is working on the biggest market place for unsigned artists. We want to steer revenues towards the artist and we are very transparent about how we share these revenues. If the fans know that their money goes directly to the artist, does it help?
NI: Absolutely! I think that’s an exciting way forward for fans to be able to get directly the music from the artist and knowing that they are supporting that artist.

Because, ultimately, if you really are a fan of that person’s music you want to contribute. Yes, it’s a fair way of doing it!

Written by Monica Mel

Global Rockstar magazine editor

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