Natalie Shay is back with her new single, “Figure of 8.” The indie-pop song dives into the hard truths of toxic relationships. If you liked her previous hit, “The Edge,” which got BBC Radio 1’s attention, you’re in for another solid track.
“Figure of 8” deals with the endless cycle of love and pain, symbolized by its title. The song was entirely crafted by women, giving a fresh take on a familiar struggle. On the three-minute cut, Natalie’s message is clear: break free from bad relationships. Even more, the new release arrived alongside a b-side called “play,” which similarly digs into why we often stay in harmful situationships.
According to the North London artist, “Sometimes it’s easy to fall in love with the potential of someone, especially when they’re so good at saying they’ll change and then not changing. You just keep hoping that maybe this time they actually mean it.”
With her upcoming EP, Champagne, slated to drop in 2024, the musician shows off a more mature side. It will serve as a follow-up to last year’s MILK. The aforementioned project spanned six songs without standout cuts like “Heaven” and “Good Girl Behavior,” to name a few. However, with Natalie’s latest slew of releases, it’s clear she’s prepared to up the ante.
Below, we spoke to Natalie Shay about her musical direction, relationships, putting together a new project, and self-care, amongst other topics. Read our conversation below.
How has the year been treating you so far, both musically and personally?
So, I put out a song in January that did a lot of cool stuff for me. It was the first time I had national radio in the UK. Then I went to Texas, played South by Southwest in March, and that was my first time playing in the U.S. That was really special. Over the summer, I’ve just had loads of festivals, and it’s been really fun because I like playing live more than anything else. So it’s good.
Although you’ve been around for quite some time, how would you describe yourself as an artist for anyone who is unfamiliar?
I’m indie pop. I also do a lot of work with just me and a guitar, which is a bit more singer-songwriter-based. I think the two go together for different reasons. Right now, I’m enjoying doing the more pop side of stuff. It seems to be getting me to the places where I want to go, so I’m enjoying that.
However, I always know that I’ll continue doing the acoustic guitar and singer-songwriter thing. I guess I’ll just tap into whatever I feel is the most “me” at the time. They’re all parts of the project, and I don’t really want to cut anything out because it’s all part of what I do.
Your new single, “Figure of 8,” is finally here. Can you tell us more about the song and what you hope listeners can take away from it?
The song is about being in a toxic relationship that you keep trying to leave, but keep getting pulled back into—it’s like a figure of eight cycle. I wrote it with two other women and a female producer. It wasn’t intentionally female-led, but it’s worked out that way, which is exciting. The video is also directed by a woman. My entire goal with writing lyrics and being a songwriter is for people to connect. I just want people to tell me they’ve been in that situation and that they relate to my lyrics. If that happens, I feel like my job is done.
Especially when you work with an all-female team, does that allow you to be more vulnerable?
Working with an all-female team does give the project a certain angle you don’t usually get. The day we wrote the song, we spent about two hours talking about our experiences and those of friends who had been in relationships like the one described in the song. I think the song came about specifically because of the environment we were in. The video’s director, also a woman, had been in a similar relationship and wanted to channel her story through the video. I said, “Go for it,” and that’s what we did.
On the topic of relationships, what’s the quickest way for someone to win your heart?
Oh, my God! For me, it’s about laughter. If you don’t make me laugh or don’t laugh yourself, it’s not going to work. I’m sensitive to people who don’t laugh; it’s a deal-breaker. What I look for is a lighthearted, positive person who resonates with my energy.
The song will be the preamble to your next project, Champagne. Why did you feel like this was one of the perfect records to start off with?
So actually, “The Edge” is also going to be on there. When I released that, I didn’t actually have that as a plan. That wasn’t really the plan. I think it’s the most commercial one. So I wanted to leave it at that because it sets up nicely with a big bang. But none of them are really about the same thing. So everyone I put out is about a different thing. Really, there’s no real theme to the lyrics on this EP at all.
Regarding the EP itself, can you give us a bit more insight into why you chose that specific title?
Well, my last EP was called Milk. So I thought that’s it. It’s a progression of me and growing up
I’m 24 and I always thought life would be hard to do the things I wanted to do because every time I tried, like through school, they would tell me, “Don’t do music, it isn’t a real job.” I’ve always had things like that. Being an adult, when you’ve got the independence to do whatever you want, you realize you can just do what you want to do. There’s nobody putting any thoughts of any reasons why I can’t do that stuff.
I like being able to have an idea and just doing it without any reason or anybody telling me it’s not a good idea or I shouldn’t be doing that. It’s just the freedom to do whatever you like.
Shifting gears slightly, how would you describe your style? What are you wearing these days?
I think I’ve found my style in the last couple of years. Fashion has gone in a way now where it suits me. What’s in fashion is what I’ve always liked wearing. I don’t like dressing up too much; I have a more chilled vibe. I like to wear Converse and stuff. A few years ago, that was seen as underdressed, whereas now that’s seen as dressed, so it suits me perfectly because that’s what I want to wear.
When you’re not in the studio or doing live performances, what does your self-care routine look like?
I’m really bad at going to sleep; I don’t want to go to bed. I’m having too much fun. There’s so much to do, so I struggle to end the day. I really like food and enjoy trying new things. I go out a lot for food, ordering something I’ve never had before. I’m in that phase of my life where I want to try everything. But my main thing is friends. Every minute I have free, I see my friends. I love going to musicals and just spending time with them. That’s my self-care.
Considering that you already have an eye on 2024, is there anything else on your bucket list that you’d like to accomplish next year?
I want to do a show for this EP. I have a specific idea of how I want that to go, so I want to make that happen. There are also things I can’t really control. For example, I want to do a support tour; I hope I get one. There are certain deals I’d like to secure, such as a publishing deal. I value myself as a songwriter as well as an artist, so securing something on that side would be cool.