Friday, 8/3 Red Fridays & Deep Sugar DC pres. Ultra NatÃ© at U Street Music Hall w/ Lisa Moody, Chris Burns
Purchase Tix: http://www.ustreetmusichall.com/event/138633/
***Free before 11pm for 21+*** Ages 18-20 entry by advance ticket only.
In her two decades of making music, Ultra NatÃ© has remained a musical chameleon, embracing a variety of sounds, from R&B/hip-hop, soul and disco to house, rock and electro-pop. Her reasoning for doing this is quite simple: â€œI hate boxes,â€ NatÃ© says. â€œWhereâ€™s the fun in being totally predictable?â€ She continues, â€œItâ€™s always important to experiment and be a bit of a maverick in your [musical and personal] stylings. Win, lose or draw, when itâ€™s all over, people will respect you more if you donâ€™t always play it safe.â€ Indeed.
Twenty years after sashaying onto international dance floors with the club anthem, â€œItâ€™s Over Now,â€ NatÃ© stands tall and proud, proving that artist longevity, though not common for singers of dance music, is alive and wellâ€”and a real possibility for those willing to work hard for the money.
Ultra NatÃ©â€™s 20 year anniversary in the business comes at a time of non-stop work and recording sessions. In addition to prepping her eighth studio album Hero Worship (set for release in 2011), Ultra NatÃ©â€™s been busy in the studio with David Morales (for his upcoming album and hers); Robbie Rivera (for his new album); Quentin Harris (a project entitled Black Stereo Faith that NatÃ© describes as â€œsexy soul meets rock with a twinge of disco funkâ€); Nervo (co-writers of David Guettaâ€™s worldwide chart topping â€œWhen Love Takes Overâ€ featuring Kelly Rowland) and Nicola Fasano (Italian DJ/producer responsible for the club hit â€œ75, Brazil Street,â€ which was reworked by rapper Pitbull for his smash single, â€œI Know You Want Meâ€) and a new EP project with Baltimoreâ€™s Unruly Records crew entitled â€œThings Happen at Nightâ€ (a mix of hyped-up hip-hop grooves, raw house beats, heaving bass and ass-shaking beats). Additional collaborations include â€œWaiting On You,â€ a funky disco duet with Destinyâ€™s Childâ€™s Michelle Williams,â€Right Now,â€ with house music innovator Todd Terry and the chart-topping â€œDestination,â€ with Tony Moran, a circuit party anthem which has just gone top 10 on Billboardâ€™s club chart.
Working hard for the money also means wearing numerous hats. Sure, NatÃ© is the singer of the song, but she is also a songwriter, producer, DJ, label owner (BluFire and Deep Sugar), club promoter and live performer. For the Baltimore-residing NatÃ©, such diversity is a natural extensionâ€”or evolutionâ€”from one creative aspect of the music scene to another. â€œIâ€™ve been in this scene for a long time, so itâ€™s easy for me to transition from one area to another rather seamlessly,â€ she explains. â€œSure, Iâ€™m still learning some particular dynamics, but thatâ€™s the fun part of the process. When you stop learning youâ€™re doomed.â€
Consider this: A few years ago, NatÃ© stepped behind the turntables to learn the art of DJing, which paved the way to her monthly Deep Sugar party at Baltimoreâ€™s Paradox club, where she is DJ, host and promoter. Now, she is a much sought after artist and DJ on the international dance/electronic/house music circuit.
At the end of the day, though, NatÃ© always heads back home for inspiration. Witness the recently released six-track EP, â€œThings Happen at Night,â€ a collaboration between NatÃ© and Unruly Records that spotlights Baltimoreâ€™s homegrown club soundâ€”a mix of hyped-up hip-hop grooves, raw house beats, heaving bass and ass-shaking beats. The projectâ€™s lead single and video, â€œFaster Faster Pussycat (Letâ€™s Go!),â€ would do Lil Jon, M.I.A., and Rihanna proud.
According to NatÃ©, Baltimore keeps her grounded. â€œThe city sometimes has a brash, in-your-face, unpolished quality that can be very refreshing when things start to get too watered down,â€ she says.
NatÃ©â€™s schooling in all things music began in the late-â€™80s. At the time, she was taking pre-med courses in college. When not buried in books, she discovered the local nightclub scene, which is where she met production outfit the Basement Boys. After a night of dancing, NatÃ© went back to the Boysâ€™ studio and, before the sun had a chance to rise, wrote and sang the lyrics for what would become her first single, the now-classic â€œItâ€™s Over Now.â€ â€œItâ€™s Over Nowâ€ paved the way for NatÃ©â€™s debut album, â€œBlue Notes in the Basement,â€ which spawned such club hits as â€œScandal,â€ â€œIs It Love?,â€ â€œDeeper Loveâ€ and â€œRejoicing (Iâ€™ll Never Forget).â€ Four years later, in 1993, NatÃ© delivered her sophomore album, â€œOne Womanâ€™s Insanity.â€ Dance music enthusiasts were pleasantly surprised by its R&B undertow, clearly evident on singles like â€œJoy,â€ â€œHow Long,â€ and â€œShow Me,â€ which was the artistâ€™s first #1 on Billboardâ€™s Hot Dance Club Play chart.
In 1997, after switching labels, from a major (Warner Bros.) to an independent (Strictly Rhythm), NatÃ© had the biggest success of her career with the worldwide smash single, â€œFree.â€ The anthemic track topped Billboardâ€™s Hot Dance Club Play and Maxi-Singles Sales charts before crossing over to Top-40/dance radio. In England, â€œFreeâ€ became a Top-5 pop hit; in Switzerland and France, it went Top-10; and in Italy and Spain, it scored a bullâ€™s-eye, reaching the pole position of the national pop charts.
â€œFreeâ€ was one of many highlights featured on NatÃ©â€™s third album, â€œSituation: Critical,â€ which also included the hit singles â€œFound a Cure,â€ â€œRelease the Pressureâ€ and â€œNew Kind of Medicine.â€ To be sure, â€œSituation: Criticalâ€ was NatÃ©â€™s greatest commercial success.
It is also safe to say that â€œFreeâ€ pushed NatÃ© into the mainstream on a worldwide level, greatly impacting her life and career. â€œIt definitely felt like a great payoff for the many years of hard work I put in before it,â€ the singer says of the song. â€œSince then, it has taken on a life of its own and become an anthem to people around the world.â€
â€œFreeâ€ is the little song that could. â€œIt certainly captured a moment in time and has immortalized itself in peopleâ€™s hearts,â€ NatÃ© explains. â€œThe lyrics continue to resonate with people around the world. Itâ€™s a beautiful thing.â€ Over the years, the indefatigable â€œFreeâ€ has been remixed by numerous DJs and producers, and was recently remixes by legendary producer Bob Sinclar for Strictly Rhythmâ€™s 20th Anniversary project.
Four years after NatÃ© struck gold with â€œFree,â€ she released her fourth studio album, â€œStranger Than Fiction,â€ which found her spreading her musical wings (again), working with such producers as 4 Hero, D-Influence and Attica Blues as well as collaborating with Nona Hendryx, Lenny Kravitz and Nâ€™dea Davenport. Two songs from the album, â€œDesireâ€ and â€œGet It Up (The Feeling),â€ reached #1 on Billboardâ€™s Hot Dance Club Play chart, while sleeper hit, â€œTwisted (Got me Goinâ€™ Round),â€ continues to have a life all its own.
In 2007, Nateâ€™s fifth studio album, â€œGrime, Silk & Thunder,â€ arrived via Tommy Boy Records, spawning two #1 club hits: â€œGive It all You Gotâ€ (featuring Chris Willis) and a cover of the Pointer Sistersâ€™ â€œAutomatic.â€ Lead single, â€œLoveâ€™s the Only Drugâ€â€”given a major electro-kicked re-rub by Morgan Pageâ€”missed the top spot by only one position point. Equal parts Grace Jones and Little Boots, the track wickedly championed the electro-pop fusion thatâ€™s all the rage now.
Of course, NatÃ©â€™s 2005 collaboration with Stonebridge (â€œFreak Onâ€) also found the diva reveling in electro-kissed beats. Since day one, Girl has always remained steps ahead of the game, following the beat of her own drum. Both â€œFreak Onâ€ and Pageâ€™s mix of â€œLoveâ€™s the Only Drugâ€ are included on NatÃ©â€™s 2008 collection, â€œAlchemy: G.S.T. Reloaded.â€ The two-disc set spotlights remixes of tracks from â€œGrime, Silk &; Thunderâ€â€”as well as NatÃ©â€™s DJ skills (it is her first official DJ mix).
At the end of the day, and 20 years on, NatÃ©â€™s maverick style has not changed. It remains intact. She says her creative process, over the years, has not changed either. â€œI still work in many different ways,â€ she explains. â€œIâ€™m very open to trying things differently. Remember: I donâ€™t like boxes.â€
When asked if there is one moment from her two decades in music that will be forever embedded in her mind, NatÃ© pauses. Smiling, she says, â€œIt was in 1998 when â€˜Freeâ€™ had hit its stride. I was performing at an outdoor festival in front of 300,000 people. Midway through the song, I had the sound engineer stop the music so that I could hear the people sing the song a cappella. It was a sea of 600,000 hands in the air, singing a song I wroteâ€”a song that came from my one little self.â€
Well, this â€œone little selfâ€ continues to move forward with several currently smoldering collaborations and a new full-length due in 2011. â€œI want to continue to be in your face,â€ says NatÃ©. We wouldnâ€™t want it any other way.
Chris Burns has pioneered his way through the DC creative landscape via an original DJ style inspired by the disco culture of yesteryear with a modern, eclectic twist. By emphasizing versatile programming, mixing and the creation of strong moods on the dance floor, he has gained a loyal following in D.C. and beyond. This hard work has not gone unnoticed with numerous awards and critical acclaim being given by the Washington Post, Washington City Paper, DCist, and Brightest Young Things, amongst others. Burns also makes regular appearances in New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore.
Burnsâ€™ involvement as a promoter with parties such as Deep Secrets, Wild North, Hometown Heroes and Disco City have attracted diverse crowds seeking forward-thinking sounds. His reputation for bringing an exhaustive list of some of the worldâ€™s finest deep house DJs to DC has won him respect in scenes near and abroad. As a result, Burns has been able to organize and execute event partnerships with Scion, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Red Bull, Amp Energy, Kia Soul, Colt 45, VitaCoco, DURKL and others.
Currently, Burns is the Saturday night resident DJ at U Street hotspot Lost Society. He is regularly called upon to play at some of DCâ€™s most acclaimed venues, including U Street Music Hall, Warehouse Loft, 930 Club and the 930 Club Backbar.
In 2012, Chris took the leap into becoming a full-fledged music producer with original releases on 410 Paradox Underground and his own vinyl label, Mysteries of the Mind. Burns also regularly collaborates on original productions and studio engineering work with Italians Do It Better label boss, Mike Simonetti.