When the best rock producer in the country offers to work with you, there is no way a clear-thinking musician would say “no”.
This is what happened when blues singer and guitarist, Natasha Meister (pictured), received an offer from Theo Crous. He is the guitarist and producer for icons, Springbok Nude Girls. He has also produced platinum-sellers for The Parlotones, Prime Circle and Karen Zoid. He produced for the blues guitarist, Dan Patlansky, and began his producing career in the ’90s with greats like No Friends of Harry and Lithium.
Meister may be destined for bigger things, too. She has worked with artists like Gerald Clark and Albert Frost and has impressed Patlansky and Crous. Now she is launching an EP produced and funded by Crous as part of a development deal he has with her.
“From the moment I saw her play, it was clear she has talent,” said Crous before playing the five tracks off her album. “Her voice is what got me first.”
The idea is to use the EP to promote her throughout South Africa. This Canadian artist is well known in her adopted Cape Town and her reputation as a great musician is spreading. It is also hoped that this EP will see her transition from an exclusively blues muso to a more rock-based one.
“I took three of her songs from her previous album and did them acoustically as well as recording two new songs,” explained Crous.
Her first single, Hope You Know, is playlisted on most commercial radio stations, except for 5FM who turned it down because the drums were too loud. Go figure. The track has an adult contemporary pop/rock feel, while Shadows, her planned second single, has a more retro feel.
Meister arrived in South Africa from Canada when she was 18. That was five years ago.
“I received my first guitar when I was 14,” she recalls. “My father taught me the basics and then I was on my own. I only got into it full-time when I arrived here. I come from a gospel/soul/blues background and listened to everything from Aretha Franklin to BB King and Buddy Guy to Stevie Ray Vaughan. I never play without my guitar. It is part of me.”
Her first connection she made in South African music was Tim Parr: “He became a mentor. He is how I met my first band members whom I recorded my first album with.”
Of her recent foray into writing rock songs, she says it was largely influenced by her boyfriend: “It’s only in the last two months that I have become involved with rock due to my boyfriend. I get the same feeling listening to rock that I did when I first listened to blues. Blues was the only thing in my life, now I am writing so many songs in one go. I have written about 15 or more rock songs in the last two months.
“These new songs are about letting off steam from past relationships. As a creative, it is the best way to do that. I have never been good at writing happy songs.”
Shadows is a clear indication of that statement: “It’s about God and the Devil and trying to stay away from evil.”
At the KKNK she did a successful show with Clark and Frost: “That was my last show as a blues musician. I don’t really like that label, ‘blues queen’. My main aim is to re-invent myself as a rock artist. It’s just so hard to break out of the blues genre. It’ll be interesting to see how people react to my new sound.”