Pomplamoose's Nataly Dawn: I'd star in a porno called "The Crack of Dawn"

Categories: Interview
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Photo by Jeffrey Marini

Nataly Dawn is probably best known as one half of the indie pop duo Pomplamoose, a California-based band that may be one of the best modern examples of wielding the power of the internet. The band skyrocketed to social media stardom with a cover of Beyonce's "Single Ladies" on YouTube in 2009, and before they even released an album, they had sold over a 100,000 tunes.

These days, though, Pomplamoose is taking a little chill pill while Dawn and her other half, Jack Conte, work on solo projects. Dawn is breaking out on her own, and her debut album, How I Knew Her, shows the talented vocalist in a whole new light. How I Knew Her explores subject matter more personal and tender than Pomplamoose ever came close to, and on tunes like the restrained, jangly title track and the infectiously tempestuous "Please Don't Scream," Dawn shows off the vocal gymnastics she's been building up to.

Ahead of Dawn's Minneapolis gig at the Bryant Lake Bowl on tonight, Gimme Noise chatted with the singer about performing solo and what her ideal porno movie would be like.

Gimme Noise: How I Met Her is your first solo album. What made you decide to break out on your own? Why was this the right time?

Nataly Dawn:
Well, I had been writing a lot of these songs over the course of Pomplamoose's career, and it just didn't fit into Pomplamoose's schtick. They were all just a completely different style of writing and a completely different feel, and I didn't really feel that Pomplamoose was the right way to go about creating them. On top of that, Jack [Conte] and I were getting to a point where we felt Pomplamoose was at its peak, where we were getting overwhelmed with the attention and the people that were telling us that we needed to come out with a big sophomore album and get a manager and get a label, and it was getting to be all about business and it was sucking the life out of the band. We realized that we needed to take a few steps back if we wanted to continue to make the band work and, frankly, make the relationship work. It's funny, though, because I still brought Jack on as producer [for How I Met Her].

I noticed that. How were the dynamics different between the two of you, working in a different capacity like this, on a new project?

They were actually extremely different, and I wasn't expecting that! He was in a different role -- it wasn't just the two of us writing songs and recording them in our home studio. We were recording them in a really nice studio, a very professional one, and Jack was at helm of the ship, in charge of directing everything and orchestrating. I learned so much about him in the time that he was producing the album. I always knew he was talented, but I didn't know the extent of his skills. I didn't know how amazing he was at communicating ideas to people. He has a really great technical vocabulary, so he can communicate with the drummer about the beat, or how the song should crescendo. This album is what it is because of how talented he is.

The songs on How I Knew Her are far more personal than the ones Pomplamoose generally does. How is the transition for you, performing these sorts of songs in front of an audience?

It's funny... I'm learning. It's a completely different thing from what Pomplamoose is doing. Pomplamoose doesn't really get into different subject matter. We don't talk about death or family or religion or any of the topics that really come out in my album, and Pomplamoose is very lighthearted upbeat and fun. I know that a lot of the people coming to my shows are from the Pomplamoose fan base, and they aren't expecting that same thing because they've heard my solo music, but it's still funny figuring out the whole banter thing on stage. That's been one of my biggest things, how to transition from lighthearted banter to heavy material, because I when I'm playing the songs I don't want to get people down by talking about cancer or something. The song is intense enough. [Laughs] So I like to brighten up the mood a bit between songs, and it's really interesting to try to figure out how to keep the audience engaged. I'm figuring it out as I go.

Jack isn't live on stage with you, is he?

He doesn't tour with us, actually. He's focusing on his solo career while I'm focusing on mine, and that's what I mean by figuring out the dynamic on stage... When you're the main person, you don't have someone to chat with or go back and forth with on stage, but I'm figuring it out.

So you're on tour, and you have quite a few dates lined up. Are there any places you're most excited to visit, new or old?

I'm excited to go back to Denver. We had a really great show in Denver [when I opened for] Ben Folds, so I'm eager to see who shows up. A lot of the excitement comes from friends I have around the country, too. I've got quite a bit of family in Minneapolis. I'm also really interested in playing New York at the Slipper Room on the West Side, because apparently it's this burlesque club that's been converted into a music room recently, and it's still sort of advertised as adult entertainment, so it's kind of hysterical that I'm playing there.

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