Speaking with February’s Composer of the Month, Unnatural, was an absolute pleasure! And since their musical journey and enthusiasm for music simply jumped out of them, we wanted to do a slightly different format for this article, giving you a dose of excitement thanks to the power of their words.
So without further ado, we present Unnatural 🎶🎶
Tell us about yourself: who are you, where are you from?
Hi! I’m Unnatural, a mostly self-taught composer from Somewhere in New York. I play trombone, drums, piano and synthesizer, and I’m ABSOLUTELY ECSTATIC to meet you!
What’s your history with music? Was it a passion from an early age?
Very much so - I can remember listening to the Black Keys in the car when I was 4, bobbing along like I was playing the keys myself. Today I’ll usually find myself dancing a bit as I walk down the street, hearing those invisible rhythms in my head.
Then I started composing, quote-unquote, when I was 7, in music class. We’d be putting together premade loops and I was just fascinated by how they interlocked together, that mechanical aspect of how music works.
And then the day I joined Flat about 2 years ago, that’s the day I’d say I really became a composer. It was so easy, I’d been looking around and trying other software but nothing was nearly as good. With Flat there were no hurdles to getting started, there’s no learning curve, it’s just a straight line forward.
Do you have a certain style or key influences?
Influences, yes, but just one style, no, I’m all over the place! If I had to give my top 10 influences, it’d be Charles Mingus, Cory Henry, Jack Stratton, Genevieve Artadi, Ben Prunty, Michael Jackson, Anjelika Joseph, Billie Eilish, Brian Eno, and Jacob Collier.
It’s pretty eclectic, which is probably why my style can change a lot. Lately, I’ve been doing Vulfpeck-esque funk music, but before that I was doing more experimental and synthesized soundtrack-ish stuff. I’ve been slowly making my way back to that, but with more orchestral and epic elements this time around. Honestly, I’ll probably go in every musical direction at some point!
Do you have a favorite composition that you’re most proud of?
I’ve been working on a series called “The Walmart Series” lately. I don’t know that I’d point to a particular song there as my greatest source of pride, but the whole series is collectively the most ambitious and exciting thing I’ve done.
How about your favorite Flat users or experiences?
Hmmm… I’m a JM fan, as all sane people are, but my favorite composer has to be Shayne. She writes a lot of very percussive pieces with strong Latin influences, and they’re all genuinely fun to listen to in a way that a lot of compositions aren’t.
Then this past new year, I got together with a couple of other Flat users and we did a disco-style collaboration to celebrate the end of the year! We ended up publishing it on New Year’s Eve, 8 minutes before midnight 😅 I loved working on it, and I’m still friends with a lot of the people I collabed with.
Tell us a bit about your creative process.
It’s not just a normal experience, believe me. I can’t just sit down, work on a song, and then go back to doing other things. It’s more intense, sort of like having a heart attack. I need to take medication (tapping/singing the tune) to hold back the full effects of that rush of creativity, I have to get to the emergency room (my piano) and get treatment (noting it all down) before I die (the idea fades away).
Ok, the analogy might be questionable, and I’ve never actually had a heart attack, but it gives you an idea!
Why do you think it’s so intense?
For me, music isn’t just a story or a scene that someone wanted to portray. I can’t imagine the shiny red lizard, the tessellated and pockmarked totem poles, or the small, rancid trash heap in Newark that the musician took as inspiration. When I listen, a song creates a new atmosphere, sends thoughts and ideas spiraling around my mind like moons around a turbulent sun. I’m dragged in, absorbed, and spit back out again with beautiful solar flares of inspiration. Moving from one song to another is like changing into a completely different atmosphere, with completely different sensations.
Do you have advice for others who want to start composing?
Drop everything else. Don’t eat, don’t sleep, don’t breathe.
Like I said, intense! But seriously, if you want to start composing you need to write, write, write until you get comfortable with it. It’s not effortless, even if you love it. And if you truly love it, it can be REALLY hard to open a new score and start the whole process again, especially if you’re not going to get a lot of recognition for your compositions.
Also, ignore that “Don’t eat” thing. Have some food to munch on while you compose, you can’t write music on an empty stomach.
Where will we see your composing career go?
I’m like every other aspiring 21st century musician: the dream is to go viral on a popular platform, hit it big, bask in the radiant glory of my own personal publicity sun.
But honestly, I love it for the music - just having the chance to perform and to have an audience, that’s all I really need as a musician.
This is all for now!
See you next time,