Exclusive interview with Natalie West by Scott McGlynn
Scott: Tell a little about yourself and some facts people may not know about you?
Natalie: OK so about me..? I trained in music at the Brit School, Selhurst London. I also studied dance on the side. I had the privilege of dancing behind mystique on the Brit awards 2003 so i guess my dancing skills weren’t too bad? lol. I used to be extremely shy and i didn’t have many friends at college. I also suffered with bulimia, so a lot of my college days were cloaked. I lived a concealed life. I was so desperate to be thin to look prime for my dancing. After the Brit school i went onto train at a vocational performers college in Romford Essex called Colins Performing Arts. I was in the same classes as James Buckley who plays Jay Cartwright in the Inbetweeners. At the time James was going out with A girl called Tia but i secretly fancied him lol. It was his ludicrous humour that won my heart. He was no looker, but i admired his genius talent in acting and his ability to make people laugh. But i never told him and still doesn’t know to this day simply as i did not want to tarnish his relationship.
Whilst i was at college, i had been awarded a 50% scholarship. So i still had to fund the rest of my college fees and pay for my student accommodation! I had a job in McDonald’s i was on £5.26 an hour and after tax i was not getting very much at all. I was working all the hours under the sun after college and was severely tired. At this time i still had my bulimic food disorder and i was sending £300- 400 a week on food. I needed more money, so after looking through the stage paper, i came across an audition for dancers needed in a nightclub. It was in Liverpool street. the club was called Diamonds and Pearls. I went along to the audition only to find it was a pole dancing club. I had no clue how to pole dance or lap dance? But i just went for it and improvised. I had the vision in my mind of “College fees” so i knew i had to just block out any substandard thoughts and just get on with it. Well i got the job and from then on i was working in the club every night after college earning between £800-1500 per week. i made friends with some of the girls and was offered cocaine as it was an appetite suppressant, which would help me stay thin and keep me awake. So it was here that i developed a vulnerable habit and yes i became an addict at the age of 19. Cutting the long story short, i ended up getting into debt with my drug bills and i left college. My mum had moved away to the Isle ofWight and i ended up living in a rented room in a violent alcoholics house, and i had taken on 2 jobs to pay for everything. I was really lonely and sad, i had no friends and i hated life. Was only 20.
During my struggle, it was then that i started writing songs. I put my anger and guilt of leaving college to paper….. and a lot of my songs if you listen to the lyrics are about my past and my struggles with life. It is a very sad story and i wish i could go back in time to change things. But I certainly wouldn’t have any of my songs if i had!
Scott: Your in a rock band, How is the rock-style life different to pop-star life?
Natalie: I really love being in my rock band. Its so rock n roll it suits me down to the ground its right up my street! Ive lived a life in the drugs and sex backdrop so to be a rocker is more accessible as is the pop world. I feel i am not judged in the rock n roll world because the majority of the rock stars and fans have been through the same as me. While in the pop world, i would be condemned. There’s a large unorthodox between the two genres. Put it this way, i doubt i could ever try my luck with the x factor lol.
Scott: Your signed to “CO Records” was it easy to get signed or was it hard times to get where you are today?
Natalie: Yes i recently got signed to co records. It has not been easy, as I’ve only recently got myself straight and my life back on track. In the past 5 years I’ve lived in 12 different places, I’ve had broken relationships. My mind and heart have both been unstable. I have only just settled down. And i feel my prayers have been answered, as of my recent signing. After all, when we hear songs on the radio we download the song because we love it… we never think about the life of that singer and what they have been involved in. Its the voice that pays dirt, its not the background. So I’m just going to be ignorant with myself now and forget my past and just get on with it and make great music! Its all i can do. Co records look great. They have some talent on their roster including the lovely Paul Manners and I’ve met a few of the chaps. They are all very welcoming and for once i feel i am part of a family. I.e not been turned away and these guys are not turning their backs on me.
Scott: We seen you on ITV Judge Rinder, For people who havent seen it, Can you tell us why you were on there and what was the outcome?
Natalie: To be honest, i hated seeing myself on judge rinder. Hence why i chose not to get any press on it. I saw myself and i hated what i saw. I wish i had never filmed the episode. The fact that i made my mum cry and to see her so upset broke my heart as my mum is my rock and i love her endlessly. My mum is such a kind loving woman and i owe her my life. My own mum bailed me out of my drug debts, hence why we were on there as my mum was trying to get back the last bit of money that i owed. The outcome was not good as she didn’t win. Justice was not done. I felt i had let her down and i felt nothing but shame, liability and disgrace. How could i have let this happen? I have certainly learnt my lesson and i now value my relationship with my mum more than ever. On the show, they played my music. The record was a rock track i wrote called “Not A Line” which significantly is about cocaine and one of the songs i wrote when i was in my darkest place.
Scott: I know you like to write a lot of your own songs, How long does this normally take?
Natalie: I have written over 200 songs, and i am also a lyricist. A lot of my rock songs I’ve written the lyrics to, but the music has been composed by other writers. I am an honest person, and i would never take all the credit for a piece of work that i did not write all by myself. Some of the lyrics have taken me hours, others months. I did a record with MC Neat called “Ignite it” the lyrics were written by me, and the music was composed and produced by the next room. The rap was written by Neat himself. However, the lyrics took me a while on this. I was lonely and isolated living in a log cabin at the time, feeling depressed. I was experiencing alcohol problems and in a drunken state i began to write the lyrics….. they are very dark and barbaric which is how i was feeling at the time. The song was about someone i loved, but about how i was too scared to tell them about who i really was. As I’ve lived behind closed doors and been ashamed of myself for too long.Some find the lyrics offensive. But that’s just me all over, so expect it! ha!
Scott: I released my first book called “OUT” this year, Talking about my experience growing up as a gay guy in the late 90s and getting bullied, Did you ever suffer from bullying growing up?
Natalie: Yes i did suffer from bullying. From the age of 6- 15 i grew up with violence, and i was bullied at school. I guess this explains my outlandish behaviour to this day! When i was at school i had my hair set alight, my eyebrows shaved off after a sleep over party. I was beaten up once badly. Ive never enjoyed life not even as a child. I remember a time when i was only 10 at school and i used to be called “Bowling ball” as i was fat and chubby. This girl stole my lunch and chucked it away because she said i didn’t need that. Lol. I was always too weak to stick up for myself. But since forming my rock band, i certainly have a lot more front now and i hate bullies. If i see or hear of someone getting bullied i am straight in there and i will stick up for the person. I don’t have many people in my life to this day, as bullies have made me build a concrete wall and to let anyone in is extremely difficult! I don’t trust anyone and to gain y trust you need a bulldozer to get in! lol. It is very sad that people have actually made me this way. My attitude to this day is what bullies have manufactured. I am thankful for the bullies that i have now become a very strong woman with heavy duty morals in life, and a robust outlook. I have toughened up and will never be the flaccid girl i used to be.
Only last year i was cyber bullied and it got so extreme that i had to get the police involved as the woman was making death threats and threatened to burn me alive in my log cabin. This was a woman i had never met, never biased with. It was out the blue and she knew all my details. These cyber bullies sit at computers and hide behind the screen. They target successful people to melancholy a bit more gleam. They feed off of your irritation of them bullying you and this gives them fuel to prostrate you and immobilise you. So the best thing anyone can do from my experience is to ignore them. As then, they have absolutely no juice. Simple.
Scott: What would you say to people getting attacked and abuse for being gay or lesbian?
Natalie: I have a lesbian sister who is married to a woman. The pair of them are the most loving, kind, reverent couple you could meet. I would not want my sister any other way. When we first found out, ok it was a real shock. But we got used to it and we stuck by her. You stick by the people you love in life, and regardless of what they do or how they turn out, they are your blood. My sister faced a homophobic attack a few years back where she was actually punched in the face by a man. Now this is the lowest of the low. It is corrupt wicked behaviour. But notably the person got away with it. Crime like this should be prison sentences. its vile. Gay or lesbian, straight or whatever, you should be able to circuit life at your own free will. We are all human beings. Everyone is equal at the end of the day and life is sacred. We are all neighbours and should be looking out for one another, not making someones life hell. I say to all the gay and lesbians out there, be yourself. Never change for anyone. Stand your ground and live your life with elation. If people attempt to bully you, simply ignore them. If they persist with violence, you must take it to the police. We should not have bullies in this world. They need to be punished why they are doing is wrong. Never be ashamed of who you are.
Scott: What’s your plans for 2016? Any summer gigs you have lined up?
Natalie: I have some plans for 2016 with co records I’m writing with them for my new single. Not sure what its going to be called yet. But i will be doing a music video with them too.
With my rock band INDYA i have some shows in September in and around London, and we have a new single coming out in September so listen out for us on all the top rock stations kerrang! Radio etc etc. We are getting a music video for the record as we are going onto a tv show linked to Kerrang. There’s a big show on at the O2 in November with co records which i will be performing at. I take things as they come and i don’t like to rush… so i will sit back and assess whats next. I just enjoy every gig, every recording. I am not out to become famous. I just love music and I’m already living my dream as I’m performing and recording. And as long as I’m happy with that, anything else can just follow.
Scott: Who would you love to work with?
Natalie: I would really love to do a rock collaboration with Steve Vai. Ie always been a lover of white snake and Steve is one of my fav all time guitarists. it would be so cool to get together with him. I would also love to work with my friend Wily Bo Walker who’s a blues legend. My new single “Strip me down” is very blues orientated … i always like to try new styles.
in the pop world i would love to work with Rizzle Kicks. My mum Carol Camps was in a film with him “The Guvnors” and he’s such a lovely boy. He’s not the bad ass boy we all think, he’s actually a real gentlemen, friendly and it was a delight to meet him. I feel a collab with harley would be wicked!
Lastly, i would like to collar with some of the homeless in Brighton. I have sat with some of them and heard their music. I’ve met a homeless man who’s by far the best harmonica player I’ve heard ever in my life. I would love to get some of them on my records. I’m up for giving everyone a chance to be heard. Music is spiritual. It has healing properties. You can be the poorest man in the world with nothing, but if you can play beautiful music then that’s priceless.