Interview: Lower East Side Musician Greenpot Bluepot
Bowery Boogie music correspondent Benjy Tocker interviewed local Lower East Side musician Greenpot Bluepot.
There’s almost nothing about LES resident Natalie Lebrecht that isn’t interesting. She’s been making music for quite a little bit now under the nom de guerre Greenpot Bluepot. Natalie’s had a few busy years since, as she says, “I moved to Williamsburg in the summer of 2000 and bounced around all over.” Now basing herself in the Lower East Side, Natalie has worked through deeply experimental music, as well as lending a hand to the Dream House installation and performances in the Guggenheim.
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Her work as Greenpot Bluepot moves onward with the April 3 release of the album Ascend at The Dead End. What she’s shared with us is a beautiful storm of floaty avant-garde wonder. “Melting Sword” invades your brain with whirring sounds of accordions coupled with driving beats, bells and whistles. Her voice, though sometimes smooth and soothing, perfuses into your ears and rising to the forefront of your attention with a Karen O-esque tenacity.
BOWERY BOOGIE: Tell me a little bit about your new album Ascend at The Dead End?
NATALIE LEBRECHT: It enabled me to really organize my life, to prioritize that, and make sure it got done. So basically all of the free time that I had for a while, a handful of months, just really went into making this album. It was a really wonderful time in my life where I was really growing and challenging myself artistically and so the creation process was lovely and just a really positive thing.
BB: What was it like working with Avey Tare from Animal Collective?
NL: It was wonderful. He’s a great guy and we’ve been friends since I moved here, so it was really comfortable and effortless. We decided to work with Matt Marinelli in his studio during the mixing process. I’m grateful that both of them were able to help me mix it.
BB: How was working on the album different from some of the more minimalist art that you’ve been a part of? The album definitely has a much deeper sound with a lot going on.
NL: It’s definitely really different. Like I’ve said, I’ve always needed to challenge myself artistically when I’m creating something. I was definitely working outside of my comfort zone when I was creating Ascend At The Dead End.
There were a few things that I did to challenge myself. One was experimenting with different variations of microtonal tunings for many parts of the album. Another thing was trying to create complex compositions that came off sounding easy to listen to, and effortless. That was an idea that I was kind of playing with. Another thing was the beats: I hadn’t really worked in the past, I mean it’s not the first time I’ve used drums or anything but I feel like this is a really rhythm and percussion-heavy album and so that was new for me too.
BB: There are so many different kinds of influences there, too. What are some of your musical influences, both musical and artistic?
NL: I think that there are writers who have a great impact on me musically. So reading novels will often end up being my biggest musical influence – I don’t know why that is. Definitely Paul Bolwes’ writing, because he was actually a musician and then a writer. It translated to me musically and it really has inspired me musically in the past.
For this album, I wouldn’t say that I had direct musical influences going into it, but during the mixing process, for reference, I did listen to a lot of different things. I reviewed the Talking Heads‘ “Remain In Light,” and then move on to Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita.” That was actually because Dave had a lightning bolt during the recording process where he was like “wow this really reminds me of Madonna.” That cracked me up, but I went home and really listened to my favorite Madonna songs because at that point in the mixing stage I really wanted to focus on what other songs production. And then I listened to “La Isla Bonita”… it totally cracked me up as I saw Dave’s connection. I’ll take it as a compliment though as a big fan of Madonna.
BB: I read somewhere that you used to send out your demos in unique handmade packages. Is this true?
NL: When I started making music as a teenager it started out with four tracks and then it moved to CDs and cassettes – not as an ironic thing! With the 4-track cassettes I never sent them to anyone but my friends because they were intended as just presents. Basically, I was a teenager and I would just package it and that’s how it started. After that it moved to CDs, and a few years later, still as a teenager, I started sending these CDs out into the world while holding onto the idea. I’d make very special hand-packaged demos and send them out.
BB: I imagine you can’t do the same thing for Ascend at the Dead End. What are you going to do to keep that personal touch?
NL: Honestly I really think that personal touch is within the music itself. The intimacy of it all. It always has been and I hope that can come across. I’m gonna start releasing the album digitally and then from there, if it goes well, I’ll make a limited edition special hand-art vinyl release. That could happen in a few months, we’ll see.
BB: What are your future plans, especially regarding touring?
NL: Great question! My plans for now are pretty much just taking it one day at a time. I am working on live performance in conjunction with this album, so I’m definitely gonna have that. I’m open to touring after the release in May or June, but I need to wait and see how things go and see what opportunities may arise. Anyway, I’m definitely preparing a live set for the recording.
BB: Last but not least, what are your favorite places to eat and favorite places to see shows in the LES?
NL: I like to see shows at 107 Suffolk. I feel like it’s a real community place and it really still has that old-school Lower East Side kind of vibe. When I first moved here, the back of the Pink Pony was a musical venue but it was the kind of thing that was sort of a musicians forum where you could just book shows for your friends and they were lackadaisical and casual about it. I feel like the Suffolk maintains that same spirit.
I’m pretty much into trying to cook at home, but I try to buy organic vegetables and go home and try to cook that. I’ll definitely give an endorsement to Babycakes at Broome and Ludlow. They make really good cupcakes.