This New Year’s Eve, superstar, pop singer, songwriter and DJ Ultra Naté will be performing her heart out at the forever famous and popular Monster Bar in New York City.
She is best known for her songs “Free,” “Automatic” and “If You Could Read My Mind,” which all reached the Top 10 in the U.S. Last year she was featured at Night of a Thousand Gowns, a huge annual event produced by The Imperial Court of New York.
Next year she will be coming out with a brand-new album, one she has had in the works for the last six years, called, “Black Stereo Faith.” I caught up with Naté, and we spoke about New Year’s Eve, as well as some more surprising information.
I’m so excited that you will be performing in New York City for New Year’s Eve at The Monster Bar.
That’s my understanding. I’m looking forward to it. I’m very excited to be in New York and not have to go far on New Year’s Eve to get to where I have to go. I won’t be tired, and I can really get into the festivities of New Year’s Eve. No jetlag.
You will be performing at the Monster. What are you planning as far as the show goes?
As far as I know I’m doing a two-hour DJ set, but I don’t know the specifics of how long of a show that they want yet. However it goes, I am probably going to condense all the hits as well as a couple of new little niblets, some of the cool stuff that are personal favorites of the audience, because it’s New Year’s Eve, and you have to commemorate a little bit of days gone by. You have to look into the new situation, the future, and just be glad another new year has passed really. Depending on however long of a set they want, I will definitely try to do all of those things. There are some songs that people just love, because it was “their song” from a special moment in their lives.
I bet you have lots of those.
Will you be staying in New York for a while after the show?
I’m probably going to head back home, because I think I’ll be jetting off to L.A. from New York. I’m still on the fence about that.
I want to know everything that you’ve done new this year since we last spoke for Night of a Thousand Gowns last April.
In that time I finally completed the “Black Stereo Faith” album. It won’t be released until 2017, because nobody releases any new music in the fourth quarter really. I’ve been working on it now for about six or seven years. I was kind of plugging in when I had time to get into it, but these last two years I was more focused and just got it wrapped up. It’s been an effort to work on a record with just one producer, which I never had the luxury of doing. It’s my first album from the “Basement Boys” back in 1991. I wanted to do something that had a bit more soul, a bit more rock, not so driven by the dancing scene and the charts. I wanted to do something a little more close to my roots. It’s a little edgy, a little risqué, more to my roots.
What was it like back in the day when every MTV rockstar was a really big deal? I mean, what did you say to people? Were you still so appreciative and humble?
I haven’t really changed much at all. I guess for me being an entertainer and being popular to whatever degree, I always realized that the music business is a series of ups and downs. So when I’m having a significant up, and everybody’s clamoring for you, and they can’t get enough, I always realized that everything that goes up must come down at some point. So, it’s always important to me to always just maintain a sense of reality and balance. I don’t treat people any differently; I’m not a snob in that way. I talk to everybody no matter who they are or what their situation is. I treat people the way I want to be treated. That makes it pretty easy if you just sustain a certain amount of equilibrium, even when you’re in a moment of being extremely popular. I think it’s important to just have that integrity. So I wouldn’t say I’ve really changed much at all.
Even more importantly, what are you going to wear New Year’s Eve?
It will be illuminated. It will be bright and shiny for New Year’s Eve.
How has this past year been for you?
Crazy. So crazy with so many challenges, on both a personal and professional level. It’s been rough, but then there have been the blessings there as well. That’s what I choose to try and stay focused on. If I focus too hard on the challenges, they just keep knocking me down. Then I’ll get dismayed, and I can’t do that.
The last time we spoke you were doing your last party that you had been doing for a while.
Yes, but that ended up being extended, because the people that were knocking the building down were delayed in their process. We had more time with the building without the venue closing. We didn’t officially close that venue until August. With that said, I just went to do my first party at a new venue, which turned out to be a debacle. The venue owners did not have their permits in the proper place. All of my work on the production side, and after all of the people showing up, and it was looking great, it ended up having to be shut down. We had just been talking about things that were not going right. That happens to be one of them.
Oh no. That definitely would identify as a challenge.
That was a challenge. My complete investment financially and time wise, emotionally, and the people were excited, who were flying in from Houston, from Boston, from New Jersey, Atlanta, it got shut down. So I’m in recovery from that right now. That’s the worst. I’m very spoiled, because I’ve always been in such a charmed situation. My parties have always been in residency. I’ve never just gone in blind with a venue before. It’s not easy to find a venue that I want to create my vibe. It’s also our 13th anniversary of the event, so I’m still trying to salvage the anniversary before 2016 is up.
I hope that you do.
Oh, the last time we spoke I was getting ready for my birthday party at The Emerald City, which turned out magnificent. If you remember, I was running out, getting in the car, changing outfits and arriving there like Cinderella at the ball. It was also a time change that weekend. So I got there at 2 a.m., which ended up to be 3 a.m. When I walked in it was amazing. The energy was through the roof. There were just so many people dressed up. It was just a really good night.
Sounds like that must have been a big blast.
That’s one of the ones that came together.
What are your plans for 2017?
On the performance side, it’s been looking really great. I have never approached any year with having like five or six confirmed gigs already set. This year I have already gotten quite a few people coming here to book me for gigs. I’m doing the Mid Atlantic Leather event again, which always happens in January, [the] inaugural week in D.C. They asked me to come back, because the boys had such a good time. They really enjoyed my set. I played the whole five hours of the closing party by myself. It was amazing. It was a great time. I got so much love after the fact on Facebook and social networks, so they booked me again right away. The actual party is called “Dark and Twisted.” Then I have gigs in Palm Springs. I have a gig here in Baltimore for the outdoor festivals, and they have already hit me up about doing the gig that I did last year in Ibiza at the Hard Rock Hotel. I’m feeling good about it. I’m also still working on my initiative with the Johns Hopkins neuroscientist department doctors. I’m sure we talked about that before.
What? No, we haven’t. What is that about?
How did I miss that? So, I’m working with a team from Johns Hopkins composed of a bunch of different doctors from the neuroscience department. A bunch of brain doctors. We formed a board called The Academy Board. We are basically seeking out funding from Hopkins donors to invest in a building that we want to purchase that will bring together various components, including music, art, research and education. So there is going to be a bit of a marriage between my dance community and my party and the neuroscientists, so they can create a facility where they can actually study people in their movements in the context of the underground community. It includes research for robotics, healing and animation for people recovering from strokes.
Now that’s a project.
It’s all about learning and getting people rehabilitated after strokes and things like that. The doctor who is in charge of that is Jon Krakauer. [He is] having his lab … set up within the building so that these things will be studied while we also preserve the culture. Culture is very important to Baltimore City. It’s part of the dance community at home. There were a lot of artists from the Baltimore scene, including myself, who went on to pioneer in house music. So there’s a certain level of historic context as well that we are trying to preserve with the culture.
Wow, I’m not quite sure what to say to all that.
You gotta diversify. I think it’s also some kind of crazy circle of life, because before I stumbled into the music business, my intent was to go into medicine, into the brain—strangely enough, into neurology.
You have a lot of talent.
Thank you. Let me bring it to life first, then we can toast the champagne.
Sure thing, and I will see you New Year’s Eve.
New Year’s Eve at
80 Grove Street
New York, NY 10014