In Perfect Ten, we ask an artist to answer ten questions.
Today, we quiz American producer and vocalist Natasha Kmeto. Based in Portland, Kmeto’s tracks draw from sounds infiltrating clubs all over the world, touching on elements of juke, hip-hop, R&B, and the dubstep vortex for an energetic mix of beats topped by a voice recalling jazz and soul. Her new EP Dirty Mind Melt was released earlier this week on Dropping Gems.
Your most memorable show?
That I’ve attended? Such a hard question, but I’d have to say recently it was seeing Erykah Badu in Seattle last fall. Also I had the chance to see Little Dragon for the first time last year and they were amazing. I’ve been so privileged to have seen so many amazing shows of all genres over the course of my life!
The most memorable show that I’ve played was probably opening for Squarepusher last year in Portland. I was so nervous because he’s such an inspiration to me, but the crowd was amazing and I had a blast.
Is any aspect of fame important, and if yes, why?
I would say yes, just because I think fame, when used responsibly, allows people to gain widespread exposure to present a lot of ideas and thoughts that can potentially open minds. I’ve been exposed to a lot of things that I don’t think I would have if it weren’t for some of the bigger acts I listened to when I was younger presenting them. I think fame can sometimes give artists the liberty to push the envelope artistically; I just don’t think a lot of famous artists have the guts to do that these days.
An album or artist that changed the way you thought?
Wow, such a big question and I feel like my answer would change daily. Today I would say Stevie Wonder‘s Innervisions. I remember the first time I heard the record it was actually my mom’s old vinyl copy that she listened to as a kid. I put it on one day a very long time ago and was just stunned at the harmonies he used. I think a lot of younger generations associate Stevie with more of his ’80s stuff, but the albums he released in the ’70s were unparallelled. No one can express emotions through such imaginative chord voicing quite like Stevie. And then there’s that voice…
What does ‘underground’ and ‘mainstream’ mean to you?
To me, underground generally means more DIY, progressive and meaningful to smaller group of people. Mainstream generally means more watered-down and more funded, but not always.
Should music be free?
No, I believe anything that takes time to craft should be paid for somehow. Although, I think how that’s done these days is changing and I’m open to that. I feel like the desire for music and art that people can relate to will never dwindle. Artists need to be funded to have time to grow as artists and create better work. How those two will coincide harmoniously has yet to be determined. I think an emphasis on live music experiences has elevated for sure. That’s definitely my most consistent form of income, but I’d still love it if people bought my music as opposed to downloading it for free.
What’s one important lesson you learned from your parents?
My parents taught me so many important things, but the thing that’s sticking out to me the most right now is that they taught me to be honest. I’m speaking more toward the concept of being honest to oneself. There was a strong precedent in my home growing up to always pursue personal growth. I feel like the freedom I was given to pursue who I am has been one of the defining things in my life and definitely in my career as an artist.
What defines your music-making process?
How I’m feeling and my emotions guide almost every decision I make with my music. I feel like everything sort of comes through the filter of everything I’ve learned about music and music-making, but I always try to pull from a place of describing a feeling as accurately as possible.
Latest find on Soundcloud or Bandcamp?
A film, book, or artwork that greatly influenced your music?
The War of Art by Steven Pressfield pretty much saved my life as an artist. I highly recommend it to everyone, symbolic artist or no.
Your current favorite song?
Photo: Patti Miller
Published February 21, 2013.