The Questionnaire: Natalia Sheppard

Musician Natalia Sheppard takes on our Questionnaire.

Natalia Sheppard
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Natalia Sheppard

Natalia Sheppard, aka Tali or MC Tali, is one of the pioneers of New Zealand drum and bass: so it was a given that when the 90-piece Auckland Symphony Orchestra decided to celebrate electronic dance music in a one-off show, she would be top of the guest list in terms of collaborators. Interview: Mike Alexander.

What are you plugging right now?

My new single Powerful, which features Melodownz and is produced by UK Producers Melinki and Verva. It's an unapologetic, defiant song that is basically a middle finger at the patriarchal system that unfortunately dominates our music industry. The song is a heavy half time beat with a badass music video to accompany it. And Synthony — A Generation of Dance Music.

What's your idea of perfect happiness?

I don't think there's such a thing as perfect happiness — perfection in life isn't really possible and happiness is fleeting. But I certainly think there are moments where you can reach something pretty close to that —  more like moments of absolute serenity. For me that often involves that moment when you first wake up, you're all cosy in bed, snuggled next to the one you love and realising there's absolutely nothing to get up for. I would also rate that up there with lying on a beach recliner under a sun umbrella in some far flung country, looking out towards crystal clear water and drifting off to the sound of the waves caressing the sand.

Which living person do you most admire?

Ooh this is tricky because there's a few but I will narrow it down to Sir David Attenborough because he is just epitomises knowledge, grace, and compassion for our planet and the animals and plants that inhabit it. He really gives a damn which is so admirable. I also really love and admire Grace Jones. She is an incredibly strong and self assured woman, sexy and confident, with style and talent in abundance.

If you could go back in time, what part of history fascinates you the most?

I love the fashion and party vibe of the 1920s and 30s but of course this was also the era of Prohibition and the Great Depression, so Im not sure it would have been as fun as the movies often depict. I do wish I could have been a young adult in New York at the birth of hip hop culture in the late '80s, early '90s.  All the dope fashion, art, and musicality that was developing was so exciting.

What life lesson would you pass on to your children?

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There are plenty of lessons that I have gained throughout my life and many I am still collecting. One of my most important lessons though, is learning to identify when my ego is trying to take over a situation, trying to whisper those negative words into my ear and make me react. I have learned to acknowledge those voices and then ignore them — for the most part anyway. Another great piece of advice is — 'It is not about the action but your reaction that ultimately defines the outcome of a situation'. My best friend taught me that and it is advice I have cherished since the day she told me.

What job would you do other than your own and why?

Probably something to do with the rehabilitation of animals. I still want to do something like this.  I think it will be a direction I take maybe when I am much older and have more time on my hands to devote to the cause.  I also fantasise about a career as a perfumer — I have a really good nose for scent and what I think suits and doesn't suit people. Unfortunately I don't have the chemists brain for such a job - so it will forever remain a fantasy!

Synthony – A Generation of Dance Music, Auckland Town Hall, September 30.

 - Sunday Star Times

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