Natali Yura :: From Russia (Yes) With Love
From Russia with love may not be the current sentiment felt by LGBT communities across the globe, but one Russian that is definitely screaming love to all her gay (and straight) fans is pop star on the rise Natali Yura.
Dividing her time between New York, London and Moscow, Yura's debut single "Scream For Love" is gaining international appeal with the help of remixes by Ralph Rosario, Guy Scheiman, Dimitri Vegas, and Like Mike and Kue. The song is currently #21 on Billboard's Dance/Club Play chart (August 31).
"I knew when the record was done, we had a club smash. It's exciting to see her blossom and be apart of her growth. We're all very amped up about this record", says Sony Music A&R guy Kirk Lightman.
At 22, Natali has a fresh and exciting pop music outlook which definitely comes out in her singing. "Recording in London was a fantastic creative process. I wouldn’t call it work, I had so much fun", Yura comments about working with vocal producer Alan Nglish (Cee Lo Green, Taio Cruz, McFly). Yura’s delicate yet powerful vocals fit well with her current dance recording, but it is evident that she has so much more to give vocally.
Having spent time studying at the Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute can only be a help in Natali’s efforts to give more to her music. " I’m trying to be more confident with myself and with what I want to say. There is so much more in me."
While training in dance in Paris before moving on to London in search of new material to sing, Natali spent some time with me chatting about her early sacrifice for her art, how her singing voice speaks differently to us, her meaning of Scream For Love, and how the gay ban in Russia affects her music.
An acting career?
BeBe: I’ve been swaying my hips to your new single ’Scream For Love.’ It’s a great track.
Natali Yura: Well, thank you.
BeBe: Interesting that as a teen you studied at Lee Strasberg Theater and Film Institute. Does that mean you were originally interested in pursuing a career in acting?
Natali Yura: Actually, I’ve been acting and singing all of my life. I met up with Martin Bregman (personal manager for Al Pacino, Barbra Streisand, Woody Allen, Bette Midler; film producer of ’Scarface,’ ’Serpico,’ ’Dog Day Afternoon,’ ’Carlito’s Way’) in New York, which happened by accident through friends. And, during a conversation with him, he said I should meet with Anna Strasberg (widow of Lee Strasberg) who was the head of the Lee Strasberg School. I met up with her and we had a conversation for 2 hours. I was very relaxed. It wasn’t formal at all. And then she said ’I’ll give you a scholarship to my school. You should act.’ I was like okay, that’s wonderful!
BeBe: Sounds like a Marilyn Monroe story of discovery (Strasberg is the administrator of Monroe’s estate). No matter how much talent you have, it seems to always be that you are in the right place at the right time to cease the moment. Sounds like that (meeting with Strasberg) was your moment.
Natali Yura: Right? That’s so true.
Singing from childhood
BeBe: How much time went by between your moment and recording your current single?
Natali Yura: I was 18 years old at that time, and already singing at that time. But, it was like 2 years before I started working on my single and taking singing seriously.
BeBe: Most of the media about you is calling you ’The next big breakthrough in pop music.’ Do you buy into the press, and if so, does it put pressure on you to go out and wow us?
Natali Yura: Not really. I’m just trying to work hard. I really do want it (success), but I don’t feel any pressure. It’s really fun now. All the people that I work with are really creative and fun. I don’t feel like I’m at work so much.
BeBe: You’ve been singing since you were 4 right?
Natali Yura: I’ve been singing since I was 1! (laughs) A true story, when I was 4 I was standing on a table trying to sing in English. I didn’t even know English at that time. I was holding a can of hairspray in my hand as a microphone dancing and performing. And the, I fell off the table. I broke my arm real bad. It was my first sacrifice for my art, I swear!
Obsessed with music
BeBe: Now, that’s dedication! You put a whole new meaning to the phrase ’break-a-leg,’ right?
Natali Yura: Totally!
BeBe: You’ve spent at least 18 of 22 years on this earth listening to a variety of music and singing. Who have been major influences on your music?
Natali Yura: I’m just obsessed with music. It’s so emotional. It goes right in your heart. Depending on my mood, I listen to all kinds of music. It doesn’t have to be dance music. It can be rock, hip-hop, electro or whatever. I was listening to Depeche Mode since I was 4. They are one of my favorites. Also, Queen with Freddie Mercury. Oh my God, he makes me shiver when I hear is voice. I look to Beyonce for how she moves and performs. The work she puts behind it is so inspiring. She is so good.
BeBe: When I listen to you sing, I’m reminded of Ellie Goulding (’Lights,’ ’Anything Could Happen’). You both have such pretty voices, strong, but pretty. (Your voice) fits well with dance music as indicated on your first single ’Scream For Love,’ but you can do so much more with your voice, I can tell. Are you planning to do different styles of music?
Natali Yura: I think so. What I’m doing right now is looking for new music to work with. I’m looking for something to put more of myself into. I’m trying to be more confident with myself and with what I want to say. There is so much more in me. I’m still learning and trying to understand. I’m taking baby steps right now.
A terrible situation
BeBe: You have said that "when I sing my voice is different (than speaking). It comes from a deeper place". So how does your song ’Scream For Love’ connect with you internally?
Natali Yura: Well, there is so many people around me. I like to perform and be the center of attention. I have a lot of friends. But sometimes, I do feel lonely. This song is about wanting someone emotionally. I was trying to talk about that in the song.
BeBe: Are you planning to release a video for ’Scream For Love?’ And if so, will it have the storyline of searching for that emotional connection in it?
Natali Yura: We are working toward that now. And, definitely it will have that story idea throughout the whole video.
BeBe: I know your national origin is Russia, and I have to ask you about the current controversy surrounding the Russian governments new laws criminalizing homosexuality. The type of music you are currently recording resonates with the LGBT community. Do you feel that you being from Russia draws any negative attention to your music and may deter you from forward progress at this time with the controversy very hot now?
Natali Yura: No, I don’t feel that. I have a lot of gay friends. My best friend is gay. Though they, of course, know what’s going on in Russia with gay people there, they don’t let that have any influence how they think of me as a person, nor do other people that I talk to. The situation in Russia is terrible and would be no matter where this would happen.
Follow Natali Yura and get updates on concert dates and new releases at www.NataliYura.com
As an actress, BeBe was introduced to film with a lead role in the independent film "Under One Sun" with her character dealing with religious, racial and gender issues. Additionally, she appeared in the campy musical "Devious, Inc" (Australian Film Festival, San Francisco Short Film Fest) also adding additional vocals to the musical soundtrack. Both of these performances led to her selection for a lead role in Aisha Media’s next short film series, "Con-tin.u.um" to be released in 2012.