Natasha Kmeto is happy creating music that doesn’t have a heteronormative narrative

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Natasha Kmeto is a Portland based electronic musician who’s part Beyonce, part Grimes, and all Natasha. Her tight productions have a supremely lush quality, owing to both her technical skill as a producer and equally to her throaty, velveteen vocals.

With a holistic approach to her craft, Natasha writes, produces and performs all aspects of her music and the result is a sense of genuine emotion that permeates her latest album, Inevitable, bleeding from one track into the next. Also evident on Inevitable is her relationship to her queer identity, which she explores on her first single, “I Thought You Had A Boyfriend” and which winds it way through the rest of the album (“On A String” I’m looking at you).  

We recently caught up with Natasha on the new album and life in the fast lane.

 

AfterEllen.com: How did you find yourself in electronic music?

Natasha Kmeto: I went to school at Musicians Institute in LA. I went to study keyboards because previously I’d been a vocalist and I really wanted to learn how to songwriter. The heart of their program was digital productions and I fell in love with producing and getting into that side of things. I just went from there.

 

AE: What’s changed for you personally and as an artist between Crisis and your recently released LP Inevitable?

NK: They actually weren’t written that far apart—although they are, in my mind,  bookends to each other. I think as far as the personal background behind what I was writing about, Inevitable comes from a place of solid confidence, whereas Crisis is more about seeking discovery and it had a little bit more of a trepidatious feeling to it. Also I think the technical aspect of the music on Inevitable is a lot more upfront vocally and it explores more of the frequency ranges.

natasha-kmeto-1photos via Natasha Kmeto

AE: When you put a song together where does it start, lyrics or beat?

NK: It depends. More often than not it will start with music, the beat or a tone that I really like. Sometimes it will start with a melody that occurs to me. I write everything basically holed up in my studio by myself. So it’s like—whatever sounds sort of start going in a emotional direction is usually where I try to come from.

 

AE: How would you describe the difference between performing more straightforward live music, like a full band, and electronic?

NK: I played in bands leading up to working on this project, and I have a side project band as well now, and while I really do enjoy the collaborative efforts of a band, from an organizational perspective it can be harder to work faster towards an end goal. That’s what initially prompted me wanting to do this on my own. I also had so many experiences in the industry being marginalized as a woman. Working with men songwriting, I didn’t feel like I could fully express my vision. That’s also what led to me to doing this by myself.

Definitely the biggest difference in performing live is that I feel a lot more vulnerable. I’m a lot more alone on stage, but I think from that perspective I’m able to engage with people in a really direct way, which I enjoy so much. It’s my favorite part of doing this. I think, for me, if I can get myself to a place where I can captivate an audience by myself then that’s the zone I really need to be in and I feel like sometimes playing in bands I get lost in the dynamics of what’s going on onstage between the band instead of relating to the audience.

 

AE: How has being an out queer musician impacted your music?

NK: I don’t know. I feel like it’s awesome on the positive end to be able to talk about it and to be able to present a different narrative for people. It’s refreshing to hear or watch something and actually relate to it instead of the sort of heteronormative visions that bombast us daily. But I get asked a lot how being queer and how being a woman affects how I make music and it’s impossible for me to differentiate what it would be like if I wasn’t.

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