By Shelah Moody
Olivia Newton John. The Bee Gees. Air Supply. Add rising star Natalli Rize to the list of innovative and powerful musical movements to arise from Australia. The dreadlocked, Melbourne born singer/songwriter/producer describes her style of music as rebel frequencies, which influenced the title of her latest album. Rize describes her style as a melange of roots reggae, rock, dub step and world beat. Island stage recently spoke with Rize via telephone from Kingston, JA as she was recording tracks for her upcoming album and rehearsing for her spring tour.
Island Stage: What kind of work are you doing at the moment in Kingston, JA?
Nattali Rize: I am in Kingston working with a band who we are working with live. We have Yellow on drums, Sparrow on bass, Javon on keyboards, Ashir guitar and One Rebel on guitar and musical direction. Yeah, it’s a big family. We’re getting ready for a six week tour in the States with Common Kings. We’re also doing some headline shows and a couple of festivals: One Love Cali Reggae Fest and Reggae Rise in Florida. At the same time, we are working on our next album. There’s so much talent; so much creativity here. We’re trying to get as much creative work done as possible.
IS: As an Australian, how did you get into reggae music?
NR: I have to give thanks to my mother for that; because she brought me up on a fantastic palate of music – everything from Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin to Judy Mowatt, Jimmy Cliff and Bob Marley. Really diverse music. For me personally, reggae just resonated from a very young age. I think I really loved the music before I was even old enough to understand what was being said—the lyrical content and the meaning of the songs. When I grew up, I realized that they were actually singing about important things. I fell in love with the genre all over again. Who knows where it comes from— maybe lifetimes before. The reggae vibe is alive within me.
IS: Tell us about the concept of “Rebel Frequency.”
NR: The more we learn about our reality in this world; we realize that there is so much more than we’ve ever been taught…it’s about reconnecting with out spiritual selves and our higher selves; then connecting with each other as one family across all borders and all waters…when you consider sound, it is what every single piece of matter, every atom, every little thing breaks down to a frequency; to a sound wave, which means we are made of sound, we are made of frequencies. The higher the frequency, the better the feeling. They say that you resonate with someone if you are on the same frequency as someone. These things are real and we feel them obviously more than we can see them. We consider our music to be rebel frequencies in this current paradigm that we live in; the paradigm of world systems that are set up fundamentally to oppress that higher frequency within all of us; to oppress our true nature and our ability to create new worlds and new realities with the power of our minds, and our ability to love openly and open heartedly, all beings that we share this planet with. Our songs sing out about these things. The intention of our lyrics is to help unveil and elevate ourselves and our listening community to the possibilities that the world that we have been sold is not the only one available to us. Therefore that frequency is a rebel.
IS: Do you consider yourself part of the reggae revival movement, with artists such as Chronixx and Jah9?
NR: Those artists are all good friends of mine and I am humbled to be doing what I’m doing at the same time as what is termed reggae revival is flourishing. I don’t really consider myself a part of that movement because I’m not Jamaican. I am definitely humbled and honored to be creating at the same time. It’s very inspiring.
IS: How did you connect with Julian Marley for his part on the track, “Natty Rides?”
NR: Julian is somebody who has toured a lot in Australia. He visits frequently. I first met him when he was performing in Australia and we did some touring together over the years. We became familiar with each other around 2015; we were both spending an extended amount of time in Kingston. I had the opportunity to connect with Julian and put forward the riddim that we had produced to see if he was interested. We were hanging out at one of his sessions and we played that song and he was into it. We wrote the whole thing then and there and recorded it at the same time. It was a very natural flow; and Julian is such a super talented artist. I love his style; he’s very rootsy, but with his own fresh element. It was a joy working with him, especially at Tuff Gong studios in Kingston. It was special, and you can hear it in the song. It’s a dope song!
IS: Are you old enough to have been influenced by the Bee Gees?
NR: (Laughs). Of course we know about them, everybody knows about the Bee Gees! They’re a little before my time; I didn’t fully get into the Bee Gees personally. I love a lot of vintage bands. Of course, as Australians, we always respect and acknowledge those acts that have really managed to get out there and become a part of the entire world playlist. They’ve worked hard, and their music has reached far and wide and it’s really cool.
IS: Being in Kingston now, have you noticed any similarities between Australia and Jamaica?
NR: There are some similarities for sure. Australia is a massive continent. We’ve got all different types of landscapes and geography; kind of like America. If you go to the far north of the country; that’s where it’s tropical and warm year round. The south is where it’s cold and wintery in general. Up north, there’s a place called Cairns, which definitely reminds me of Jamaica; we have mango trees and papaya trees and other tropical fruits, and palm trees and beautiful blue waters. When we’ve toured in Australia with our band, they Jamaican members definitely enjoyed that part of the country the most.
IS: What inspired the track, “Warriors” on “Rebel Frequency?”
NR: “Warriors” is about the movement that we see happening around the world; and it’s really about people taking their power back and doing what we were talking about earlier in terms of reclaiming their ability to think independently of system that have so called educated us to think and believe a certain way. When you start to look at the bigger picture, you realize that just ain’t right, and as a matter of fact, I’m sure that we, with all of our human ingenuity can do better than this. That’s why people are taking to the streets and starting to reclaim their power. Those sorts of movements around the planet are very inspiring to me. It’s something I’ve been interested in from a very young age. I’ve always been interested in and concerned with justice and injustice and marginalized communities. People are the biggest inspiration for the music that I make. These times that we are in are clearly shifting times.
Feb 7 – Thu – Discovery w/ Bad Seeds – Ventura, CA
Feb 8 – Fri – The Ritz w/ Sammy J – San Jose, CA
Feb 10 – Sun – One Love Festival – Long Beach, CA
Feb 14 – Thu – OP Rockwell CK TOUR -Park City, UT
Feb 15 – Fri – Warehouse 2565 – Grand Junction, CO
Feb 16 – Sat – Agave – Vail, CO
Feb 17 – Sun – Aggie Theatre – Ft Collins, CO
Feb 19 – Tue – The Reef – Boise, ID
Feb 20 – Wed – Big Dipper – Spokane, WA
Feb 21 – Thu – Clearwater Casino – Sqaumish, WA
Feb 22 – Fri – Distrik – Victoria, BC
Feb 23 – Sat – Venue – Vancouver, BC
Feb 24 – Sun – Wild Buffalo – Bellingham, WA
Feb 27 – Wed – Crystal Bay – Tahoe, CA
Feb 28 – Thu – Ace of Spades – Sacramento, CA
Mar 1 – Fri – Mystic Theatre – Peteluma, CA
Mar 2 – Sat – Freemont Theatre – SLO, CA
Mar 3 – Sun – Catalyst w/ New Kingston – Santa Cruz, CA
Mar 5 – Tue – Blue Lake Casino – Blue Lake, CA
Mar 8 – Fri – The Cave – Big Bear, CA
Mar 9 – Sat – Observatory – San Diego, CA
Mar 15 – Fri – Reggae Rise Up – St Pete, FL
Mar 17 – Sun – Key West Pier – Key West, FL