Ultra Naté should no doubt need no introduction to any of you guys here, unless comin’ straight out of a desert island where you would have spent the last… 3 decades!!!
26 years, no less (would you believe this?) have gone since the lady’s first appearance with her Basement Boys produced debut single ‘It’s Over Now’ on WB. Quite a longevity findin’ its explanation by the fact that not only has she always taken great care of her artistic choice, workin’ with a whole array of producers from Nellee Hooper, Masters At Work, 4Hero to Mood II Swing to name but a few, in addition to her memorable commitment on Blaze’s UDAUFL collective back in 2003. But also because of havin’ managed to remain simple and accessible to her friends, people and fan base. Not to mention her awesome contribution to keep the House vibe alive with her enlightening DEEP SUGAR fortnightly gatherings in the Baltimore, MD area…
“Regrouping forces is how Disco then House came into being in the first place with Frankie Knuckles at the Warehouse and Larry Levan at The Paradise Garage. These are legacies that have to continue as the homebase for a culture…”
More than 25 years have gone since your first effort alongside producers Basement Boys. One reaction? How have you seen/lived this period?
“I’m amazed… It all happened so fast! I’m very honored to still be making music and to be appreciated by the community.”
What you would see as its ups?
“When you create something that people really love and it becomes classic.”
Then as its downs?
“All the drama behind the scene… The business end of things sometimes.”
Your best souvenirs out of those 3 decades…
“The memories… The records themselves, and the relationship with my fans.”
I guess the fact of you becoming a mom has had its influence both on your daily life and your evolution as an artist/a writer…
“Yes. It’s a natural progression of life and it’s demanding but very beautiful.”
Is it something which you’ve deeply experienced while working on the approach/concept of your new music since?
“One of my favorite songs is ‘Falling’ (taken from her 2007 released Grime, Silk & Thunder album) which I wrote about my son while he sat on my lap one morning. So yes, I’ve experienced it deeply while writing.”
The world we’re livin’ in is made of various niches with you being placed in the category of the House/Dance Music divas. Have you never seen this as a sort of imprisonment takin’ you away from specific things you would have liked to express???
“I’ve always expressed what I wanted within the context of this genre. I’ve never felt like I was missing something.”
Looks like you’ve always kept an ear to what’s hailing from England. I’m most likely referring to the vibrant ‘Twisted’ which you’ve released back then on Giant Step with writing contribution courtesy of D-Influence and production work by the likes of 4Hero which, to me, stands as one of yours best songs ever. Any particular reason?
“I just try to work with great writers and producers. I don’t care if the’re comin’ from Mars really…”
This leadin’ us to the first cut – ‘Automatic’ – taken from it. Would this song from the Pointer Sister’s repertoire originally released in 1983 with remix work courtesy of Jellybean at the time be synonymous with specific souvenirs as far as you’re concerned???
“If meaning by this that this song is “special” to me, this being the reason why I chose it, then the answer is yes as it reminds me of dancing around in my room when I was a kid in the 80’s. It’s a cool and funky tune and fitted the style of this record appropriately.”
You’re hailing from a city – Baltimore, MD – which would make itself quite a name in the tradition of makin’ House Music… What has been your heritage?
“I started with the Basement Boys back in ’89 alongside Crystal Waters and Mass Order. Baltimore had been my home since I was a young kid and it has always had a ear for House Music since House began in the mid eighties.”
Looks like there has been quite some strong connections between the various local forces. Have you all seen this as a necessity for your common survey?
“We are a family.. We may have disagreements and ups and downs like in any family, but we are a small city with a small Dance Music industry community that has made an impact globally. We’ll always be connected.”
You’re among those very rare artists/singers to DJ as well. What has got you into this?
“I’m a daredevil! I tried it… I loved it and I just do it.”
Would you say you feel different from a facet to this other of you? If so to which extend?
“It’s all connected on a creative level. Just a different discipline… But I’m active on the dancefloor, on the stage, in the studio, or behind the decks… I’m true to the game.”
More and more people tend to say that Miami has become no more than a DJ thang along with time. Any comment?
“The DJ Culture is alive and vibrant you can’t deny but Miami is what you make it. There are lots of events that are more artist focused if you seek them out.”
Does this gathering really have an impact with less and less labels being left with the opportunity to present artist showcases?
“It still has an impact because it’s a networking event.”
This leads us to your Deep Sugar nighter. Let us know about its starting point, its concept, its driving forces…
“I wasn’t satisfied with what was happening in the scene here. I felt that our vibe needed a strong representation in the community to be respected again. Everything was Hip-Hop, Rock or Martini House! I like those genres of music as well but there was nothing for the heads… No place to go and hear/dance to soulful underground House. So instead of continuing to complain or be dissatisfied I created it (it was initially called SUGAR) with my team of friends who are from the origin…”