Natasha Kmeto is an artist of many trades. In an era where a live performance can involve nothing more than Ableton Live on a laptop and projected visuals, Kmeto stands out not only for her ability to blend soulful vocals with provocative electronic beats, but also in her ability to command a room with raw emotion that transcends the limits of a non-vocal performance. She is dedicated to creating an experience that is honest. So honest, that she effortlessly takes on the role of producer, DJ, singer and composer for all her music. But Inevitable reveals a side of Kmeto we haven’t seen in past projects. While sticking to her electronic roots, she focuses more on the vocal component and lyrics that chronicle a newfound romance, showing a manifestation of both personal and creative growth.
We chatted with Natasha over the phone to discuss her new album; being a queer woman in a straight-male-dominated industry; her experience touring with TV on the Radio; and what music she has on repeat.
Noise & Color: Compared to Crisis your new album seems more vocal-heavy, and as a result there’s more of a storyline. Was that an intentional thing? To have a story of resolution?
Natasha Kmeto: There’s definitely more instrumental stuff on Crisis and the lyrics are more varied. I was definitely aiming to go for more of a story writing/vocal-forward sound on this record.
N&C: It seems like it’s based on your personal experience – with coming out as queer recently, and becoming more open with your relationships and experiences that you’ve had.
NK: Yeah, I try to write from a pretty honest place. I try to narrate my experience. I think with this I was not looking to pull any punches or hide behind anything for sure.
N&C: As far as performing live, do you think singing gives you more of a challenge compared to other electronic musicians? Is this an opportunity to be more creative?
NK: The last 2 years after Crisis I was doing a lot more touring, and I started playing and gearing myself more toward shows that were less co-booked with DJs and more with bands – from that perspective it’s easy for me to want to sing more and have a more live component. And definitely touring with TV on the Radio last year – playing larger rooms influenced me to have more storytelling involved.
N&C: I recently saw a video from a side project you do called Chanti Darling – the performance seems like a very different vibe than your personal performances. Are you planning on staying involved with collaborations like that?
NK: This is definitely one of the only collaborations that I’ve ever done. It just clicked with me and the band… I don’t personally think that collaboration should happen unless it feels really natural. We all share very similar influences and are excited about pushing the envelope as far as live performance. I think the collaboration is more out of a friendship that we’ve all had and we’ve wanted to play music and make something cool. In general I don’t like doing remixes or any type of collaboration unless I feel it’s a personal fit… Since I create from such an intimate place it’d feel weird to do that with someone I don’t know.
N&C: I first recognized your name in lineups like Decibel Festival and I was drawn to you specifically because you’re a female in the electronic scene, and when I also realized you were a woman of color it was a pretty cool thing for me to see that, as a woman of color who attends electronic shows and not seeing that much diversity — is that something that you’re aware of and look out for as far as underrepresentation of women and other folks in the electronic scene?
NK: I feel like things are starting to change as far as female representation in electronic music. Internationally and globally things are more diverse than here in the Pacific Northwest, but festivals like Decibel Festival are working hard to try to change the fact that it’s mostly white straight men playing. I feel like my music connects with a broad diversity of people and I hope that it stays that way and I can continue to play things that’ll get people connected in that way. I know that’s something that I look for in artists, or support any art on that level.
N&C: Are there any musicians locally or in general that you’re psyched about right now?
NK: Sara Jackson-Holman. She opened for my album release show. Everyone who’s a part of the Dropping Gems label like Ghost Feet and Rap Class are consistently putting out great stuff. On a broad scale I’ve been really into The Internet’s new album. I’ve been going into this whole post-punk and ‘80s electro phase. I DJ’d a post-punk industrial night with my friend and that has kind of drawn me into this area that I’ve only explored on the surface, but didn’t get super into, so I’m now diving into some of that which is awesome.