Dive into Natalie Gauci’s ‘Brand New Day’ World

"When I won Australian Idol, I didn’t realise there was a game and a machine that was the music industry, which means there’s a lot of control and toxicity, but there’s also amazing songwriters to collaborate with and fame and fortune that goes with it"
22 May 2024

From her beginnings in jazz bars to her crowning moment as the winner of Australian Idol and beyond, Natalie Gauci’s path through music has been as diverse as it is enchanting. Now, on the brink of unveiling her highly anticipated debut album, Brand New Day, Natalie invites us to immerse ourselves in her world, of captivating stories into melodies, through the soul-stirring sounds of her latest single, How You Feel.

Produced by the talented Andrew Beck at Damien Gerard Studios in Gosford, How You Feel embarks on a soulful voyage through Natalie’s personal odyssey of emotions and experiences. Each lyric and melody is a heartfelt exploration of relationships and the yearning for familial connections nurtured during her time abroad in London. During this interview, Natalie shares the story behind How You Feel and the creative process for her upcoming album. 

She offers insights into working with musicians like Ashley Naylor and Evan Mannell, giving a peek into the distinct soundscapes of her music. Natalie’s collaborations have spanned a wide spectrum, from Lionel Ritchie to Danni Minogue. Beyond her industry achievements, Natalie is also a devoted vocal coach and mother, committed to empowering others to find their voice and navigate challenges.

We explore Natalie’s multifaceted journey, uncovering lessons learned, hurdles surmounted, and the enduring dreams that fuel her passion. From her jazz origins to the eclectic fusion of country rock, soul, and pop influences, Natalie Gauci’s music stands as a testament to authenticity and the universal language of emotion.

I write music to inspire others. Hopefully my new album does this for others. It has inspired me, because each song on my album has a very strong significance to a breakthrough that as happened in my life.

Natalie, How You Feel is a soulful country pop anthem that draws on your real-life experiences. Can you tell us more about the personal narratives that inspired this song and the emotions you aimed to convey?

Thank you. When I wrote this song, I felt like I was learning to trust my own instincts more, especially in my romantic relationships. I was seeing someone (and living in the UK at the time) who I just had a feeling wasn’t being completely honest with me. I also had another guy contacting me from Australia, who wanted to come and see me, but also stay with me, and I just wasn’t sure either of them had my best interest at heart. I knew I had the “right kind of love” I was just giving it to the wrong people! I also wasn’t about to give up on my music, because at the time I raised funds to record an album, and really wanted to tour, but I was keeping the wrong company. I had to let them go. I wrote this song as if I was singing to someone, telling them my story and that “I know exactly how you feel” wishing someone knew how I felt at the time.

Can you provide some insights into your creative process for How You Feel, especially regarding your collaboration with notable musicians like Ashley Naylor and Evan Mannell to achieve its organic and rich sound?

I wrote this song on my own, on acoustic guitar. I played the verses like a story, in 3.4 time, then it moves into a more familiar time in the chorus, and it opens with the 2nd hook for the chorus. This song sounds like 2 different songs, and I did this intentionally to represent the story in the verses and then get more solid in the chorus to make the statement that I know exactly how you feel. The verses give it an edge. When I brought it into the studio, I got to play the guitar to this song, and Ash really encouraged me to play it how I felt at the time.

Then Ash created some magic around it, and so did Evan. Andrew Beck produced the entire album and together they were really the dream team. We went into the studio with the intention of recording a real live band sound, and that’s exactly what we did. It’s organic, Ash and Evan definitely brought the country feel more to the forefront and then Andrew produced around my songwriting, which ended up being a lot of country production as well, but not too over the top, we wanted to keep it as natural and soulful as possible. I also played a real Whirly on this song too! 

With your upcoming album, Brand New Day, highly anticipated by your fans, what themes and musical styles can listeners expect? Moreover, how does How You Feel contribute to the overarching narrative of the album

The main narrative for my album is me, my voice and storytelling. There is a song called Optical Illusion where I write about a young man who lived his entire life only knowing corruption, as a drug dealer but somehow still having hope he can change, but how can he have hope without changing anything? He was brainwashed into believing deception, and I explain in the song that this is an optical illusion, not what it seems.

The song is rock and country, soul, and pop, all mixed together. It came from me just belting it out on the piano and the band filling in the rest. Then there is a song called, Walk ahead which is just me and the piano, a live take. Then there’s a song called, Smile, which sounds a lot like How You Feel same vibes. I’d say the album is an urb and flow of music, great production and important stories for people and my audience to hear.

It will give them an idea of what’s been going on in my own life and who knows, maybe also relatable to them. I write music to inspire others. Hopefully my new album does this for others. It has inspired me, because each song on my album has a very strong significance to a breakthrough that as happened in my life, and hopefully this can be achieved on a greater scale for others when they immerse themselves into this album. Because it may take a few listens to really understand it and appreciate it. 

Your journey in the music industry has been multifaceted, spanning from jazz bars to winning Australian Idol and attaining international success. How has this journey shaped your artistry, and what valuable lessons have you incorporated into your music along the way?

My songwriting and my performing were always separate for a long time, I mean like over 15 years. It wasn’t until I made the decision to break away from major labels and be an independent artist, did I learn what it really means to be a true artist. When I write music it comes from a deep place and mostly because I have an urge and a calling to get a message out there. Performing was about doing shows with covers, getting paid for travelling with the best musicians around Australia.

When I won Australian Idol, I didn’t realise there was a game and a machine that was the music industry, which means there’s a lot of control and toxicity, but there’s also amazing songwriters to collaborate with and fame and fortune that goes with it. I didn’t ever sing for fame, I sang to let my heart out and use my voice to be heard to bring them joy, light up the stage, connect with people. But when I was younger, I really did want to be famous and win a global singing competition. And I did.

Now after all these experiences, I understand that the most important thing is to be humble, personable, human, and just be fruitful. I lost that human touch after I won the show and had to get my soul back. I went on a search for the meaning of it all, and after 10 years of travelling around the world, writing, and recording music internationally, I learnt that we need to stop wanting to be celebrities. It’s about leaving a legacy for the children’s children that has a deep positive impact through my music and my voice.

Collaboration appears to be integral to your career, with notable artists like Lionel Ritchie and Dannii Minogue. How do these collaborations influence your creative process and contribute to your musical growth? What criteria do you consider when choosing collaborators?

I love this question! I don’t think I’ve ever thought about WHO I want to collaborate with, apart from Alicia Keys haha! I honestly believe it has been God given this entire time. When I was booked to sing at a NYE party with Dannii Minogue, this was before she became a mega star on X factor and before I won Australian Idol, I had no idea she was going to be booked for the show! Kate Ceberano was also there, and we all sang together. The only criteria I have is to be the best I can be and let the rest happen through my faith and trust.

When I won Idol, I had no idea Lionel was going to be there either, then suddenly, we were on stage singing together. Both experiences influenced my creative and musical growth in different ways. Kate encouraged me to get myself out there, and pretty much straight after that, I decided to audition for Idol.

She said I can be bigger than what I am, and a pop star! Lionel reassured me that being a star is completely in the anointing and in the shining of light. He radiated this on stage, and it was absolutely electrifying. On another level. I felt elevated and inspired like never before. I couldn’t stop smiling and I remember my jaw was just completely open the entire time of how humble and genuine he was. I was so grateful to have that experience, it was life changing, and made me want to go international.

Your musical influences range from Ashley McBride to John Farnham. How do these influences manifest in your own music, and which aspects of their styles do you admire most?

I grew up listening to John Farnham and his passion and emotion in his voice was what I always wanted to achieve with my own voice and skills. Ashley McBride, Cheryl Crow, Amy Winehouse – they all have honest real messages in their music that comes from their heart or experiences. Musicians who understand and empathise in their music.

These are the factors that I admire the most in their music and what I can relate to as an artist. The music I grew up with will always be a huge influence on me. I loved how back then in the 80’s and 90’s, us Aussie’s created a unique sound for the rest of the world to hear. I’d love to create a classic unique Australian sound which transcends decades, that’s my dream.

Balancing roles as a vocal coach and mother alongside your music career must be challenging. How do you manage this balance, and how does being a mother inspire your songwriting and performances?

Being a mother is everything to me. My music is like a baby. I’m now a mother and nurturing my music in the same way, which means absolute balance and very strict time management. Family always must come first for me, or else I don’t really have a reason or purpose to do my music. I’d just be searching for fame, which I’ve already done and wasn’t fully happy. Fame neglects family and it doesn’t have time for love or healthy relationships, it’s more about, “what can I get out of this?” which is totally not me.

I had to learn this, and commit to integrity, and commitment long term. Which means continuing to practice my music, build a strong team who can help and support me in my dreams and be the best mother, sister, daughter, and wife that I can be, and taking my audience along on the journey with me. I get inspired by being a good mum, and seeing my son grow and be happy. I also love vocal coaching; I love helping people find their voice and seeing them shine. I then write music about this growth and change. There are always bumps along the way, and I enjoy writing music about the hurdles, the pains, the growth, the love, and the joy. 

Your singles Fame and I Thought It Was You have achieved significant success on global and various charts. What significance do these achievements hold for you, and how do you maintain humility and artistic integrity amidst industry recognition?

I pray, I give thanks and gratitude every day, and I admit my faults, well try to! And ask for forgiveness and forgive others. I’ve also learnt that not everyone is going to like me or listen to me, and I’ve accepted who I am as an artist and try hard to focus on the positive things and what God has in store for me. I take all the little wins, and remind myself of them, daily, so I don’t get discouraged. I don’t compare myself to others’ success and I just try to be the best version of myself I can be by listening to my instincts and following my purpose. I really appreciate the success I have had with my new music and always wanting to be better. I always tell myself, it’s only the beginning! Every day is a brand-new day! 

Your music blends elements of country rock, soul, and pop, creating an eclectic style. How do you uphold authenticity while exploring various genres, and what draws you to this wide musical range?

Since I was young, I could sing most genres. I loved Jazz, but then I also loved belting out a Mariah Carey or Whitney Houstin ballad. I love belting, which led me to sing rock music, and studied a lot of soul artists from the 70’s at school, then started my own cover band where we did funk and soul songs mainly, where I learnt a lot about Aretha Franklin and Nina Simone. I always without a choice heard pop music because it’s always everywhere on the mainstream radio stations and I just happen to be gifted with remembering melodies and lyrics quickly.

All of this together, has made me very versatile as a singer, and it took me a really long time to figure out what my “genre” is as an artist, because I can sing so many different genres. Over the last 10 years I’ve produced my own music which was a journey of self-discovery to find my sound. Then one day, I just prayed, and I said, “God, I just need a good producer who can make my music sound like a band!” Then I let it go. A year later, I received a phone call from a studio, and I knew that my current music was to be recorded and produced there.

Andrew Beck, who produced this song and the others on my upcoming album, let me just sing and play my instruments, and then the band just worked around me. Which meant I could just be free to be whoever I wanted to be, for these songs. So, I just sang them with all my emotions, and it ended up being a country, rock, soul, and pop album! I learnt not to try to be anyone else, but myself. That’s how I now uphold my authenticity.

With the debut album on the horizon, what emotions or messages do you strive to communicate to your audience through your music and live shows? Furthermore, as your artistic journey progresses, how do you envision your music career evolving in the future?

This is an album of hope to me, and the message I’d like to communicate to my audience is that same message of hope. The album is called, “Brand New Day” and it’s about living life with miracles and blessings every day, as if it’s normal. Because it is. The emotions behind it are, not giving up, letting go of the past, building healthy relationships, expressing how we feel, getting out of toxic situations and learning how to love.

I can see myself getting out there and doing a lot more live shows, especially here in Australia. I’m also building a charity called “A Call to Wisdom” and 10% of my earnings will be going to the charity. I really enjoy ministering to people and have over 14k members in my vocal coaching group on Fb with people from all over the world, especially Africa! The charity is designed to help people who have experienced trauma from abuse.

I help them through vocal coaching, finding their voice and through a new podcast I’m planning to start next year 2025 or maybe even sooner! Lots to do, more albums to be done as well! I feel very confident with my sound and my message, now it’s about getting it out there, keeping that human touch and changing lives.