“The pressure is on” for soulful, pop, R&B and dance music sensation, producer, songwriter and DJ Ultra Naté. She was chosen to be the featured entertainment at this year’s 30th anniversary gala of Night of a Thousand Gowns, hosted by The Imperial Court of New York on March 12. Excited, appreciative, honored and humbled by the invitation to perform at one of most opulent, extravagant and royal events ever produced, Naté agreed knowing that by the end of the night she would have to be in Baltimore to DJ another important extravaganza.
Celebrated for dance hits such as “Free,” “If You Could Read My Mind” and “Automatic,” as well as being one of last year’s performers and DJs at Mark Nelson’s Gay Day at Six Flags, she is a compelling artist, taking the stage with the power of a human Tsunami. Get Out! was once again able to speak to Naté about Night of a Thousand Gowns and the captivating projects that she is currently engaged in creating.
First and foremost, have you chosen a costume for the evening?
No. That is the bane of my existence.
I know that you are certainly no stranger to a huge gay event, but have you ever been to Night of a Thousand Gowns?
I haven’t been, but I have done my research. I have done my homework. I have consulted with my top queens in the gay community, and I am well versed in what needs to happen.
So what do you plan to make happen?
Obviously I need to have, maybe not so much a gown, but it’s got to be opulent. Performing for The Imperial Court, that’s no small change right there!
And you are the main performer.
Add more pressure to it, why don’t you, Eileen.
You are going to have a blast.
Oh, I know. It’s going to be fun, and I am very honored that they worked it out for me to be there this year. Actually, it was really tough for me, because it’s the same night that I do in Baltimore, and my venue is closing after 25 years. So it’s really epic for us. So I decided to be in two places at one time. We’re leaving right after Thousand Gowns to get to my venue. I have a 13,000-square-foot warehouse that’s like a paradise garage sound system in Baltimore. It’s 25 years old. I have a lot of history there. So it’s closing shortly thereafter, and my March party (I only do it once a month) falls on the same night. I was really conflicted when they first contacted me. It’s only because it’s Night of a Thousand Gowns that I decided to put myself through that craziness of being in New York early in the evening and then flying like a bat out of hell.
Where is your helicopter taking off from?
That’s what I’m talking about. So it’s going to be a crazy night of two epic events for me. I’m just going to take it in stride. I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I have had to be in two places at once before and made it work. So it’s going to be OK. It’s all about the proper planning.
They are both really big events for you.
It makes for a little suspense and drama, it’s all good.
Bring a change of clothes for the helicopter.
My costume designer, Karl Giant, will be on the case. He is working on how to transform me. It will be interesting. It’s all in the planning.
You know about “drag time,” right?
I’m just going to keep hope alive. It’s my birthday party also. It’s my Emerald City birthday party in Baltimore.
So there’s a lot going on.
Do you DJ in Baltimore?
I do. I’m going straight for the decks.
That will be a great night for you if you survive it.
I’ll survive. I’ve been through worse with time zone changes and stuff. I had to be in Switzerland and France on the same night. We made it work, but it was a little crazy: private airplanes and ambulance rides to get through the city in Paris. It was a little weird, because it was right after Princess Diana had died. Flying in an ambulance through the streets in Paris was a little surreal, it was a little weird. But we did it.
So you were at Six Flags in September at Gay Day. How’d that go?
Six Flags was a lot of fun. I work with Mark Nelson a lot. He’s a friend, so things are very casual. He doesn’t have to micromanage me. Once I get the details, we just get on with it, so he’s free to manage the rest of the madness. Everybody is there to have fun and ride the rides. It’s a very different type of gig. It’s not the club atmosphere. It’s a whole different vibe, a lot more casual. I DJ’d earlier, and that was fun, because some of the crowd had never heard me play before. Then I came back on later, during the peak hour, and performed. Then I was done. I think I’ve done it for him two or three times over the years, and it’s always fun, laid back, cool event.
Are you working on anything new?
Always, constantly. I’m always writing. At the moment I have a track coming out with Roger Sanchez, one we wrote two years ago actually. It’s coming out on Casual, which is an underground label. I also have a track coming out that I gave to Dave Aude. He does his thing. He loved the track, and that was really painless. He sent me a backing track, we put a song to it, and then sent it back. I love when it happens that way. I don’t know his timing on that, but it will be out sometime this year. Then behind all of that, I’m working on this album with Quentin Harris for the last five or six years. I was working on two albums: “Hero Worship,” which came out about two years ago, but I was also writing a different kind of album, a more soul, rockesque kind of record. It’s called “Black Stereo Faith” with Quentin Harris. So that one is coming out. We’re working on the first single or two, and working on getting the video out, getting the artwork finished. All of it is at the finishing stuff now. But, the record is done!
Is there anything else that you wish to talk about?
I’m just looking forward to March 12. That’s the biggie. I’m working on that outfit right now.
That’s a big deal. The pressure!
The pressure is terrible. I need to look amazing for Night of a Thousand Gowns!
You always look amazing, so don’t even worry about it.
Thank you, mama. Make sure they know that I really appreciate it, because they could have asked a million artists to perform, so I’m very honored.