We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalie Duque and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natalie, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I like to think that I didn’t pursue an artistic career, but it pursued me. For years, I tried to work “normal” jobs; the kinds that looked good on paper but weighed on my heart. I never realized how heavily connected a person’s mental state is to their physical being until I started to get sick. After countless doctor’s appointments, and a couple of emergency room visits, I decided that taking care of my mental health was the only way forward, and a huge part of that was choosing to listen to this internal pull towards a creative career that only got stronger the farther away from it I moved.
Please tell us more about your career. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Pursuing a career in music is a lot of figuring it out as you go. There are so many destination options and so many different paths to get to where you want to go. I’ve definitely taken a few detours throughout my career, and will most likely take a few more. Through it all, I’m most proud of how much I’ve grown, and am most excited for how much more I’m going to continue to learn and move forward in my career. It definitely hasn’t been easy for me, but nothing that’s worth having ever is! I’ve tried to shift my mindset around what it means to fail and what it means to succeed, and that has helped me a lot in overcoming challenges. Instead of being ashamed of “failures,” I try to celebrate them. Because failing means I’m trying, and that’s what’s most important. And to me, success means waking up and doing what you love ever day. Have I reached all of my goals? No. Not yet. But right now I get to create music on a daily basis with lots of incredibly talented friends, and that’s such a huge blessing.
As for my story… I’ve been singing since before I could talk. I remember singing the entire Wilson Phillips album in the back of my mom’s minivan on long car rides, without needing to look at the CD booklet for the lyrics. Music was the only thing that felt good to me and I truly believe it’s the reason why I was able to excel in school. I started taking music lessons in the 3rd grade, went on to study voice at a performing arts high school in NYC, and got a degree in Music Business from the University of Miami. I don’t know what else I would have studied if I wasn’t able to focus on music.
I didn’t really discover songwriting until middle school, but when I did, everything just kind of clicked for me. It really became my therapy and the way I made sense of the world around me. And now as someone who writes professionally, it’s exciting to be able to have deep conversations about life with fellow co-writers, find commonalities, and write songs together from shared/similar experiences. For me, that feels like magic. However, I haven’t forgotten about my first love, singing, and in addition to writing, performing, collaborating, and working on my own artist project, I also do session singing work. It’s so much fun to be able to help someone else bring their song baby or musical project to life!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
One of the things I love most about Los Angeles is there are soooo many options for things to do, no matter what your taste or mood! During non-covid times, I would definitely take visitors to Griffith for a hike, to Jazz at LACMA for a picnic and some live music, and to Venice beach for Sunday brunch and strolling. Since I have a toddler, I’m always on the lookout for places that have animals, so Franklin Canyon Lake and Underwood Farms are frequent stops on our list of places to visit!
One of my favorite, most recent discoveries is the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar. They provide life-long care to displaced, rescued, and zoo-born wild animals, and are doing such great work to give these animals a home. I had the opportunity to go on a private tour and learn about their work, and the stories behind some of the animals who reside at the center, and I think I might have enjoyed it more than my two year old! Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
So many people deserve a shoutout! But I’ll narrow it down to two… First, Sandy Ayala, a friend of the family who I lovingly grew up calling my aunt. She introduced me to songwriting and served as a mentor for many years as I tried to figure out my place in music. Second, I want to shout out my local songwriting community. Los Angeles Songwriters Collective (LASC) has kept me going during quarantine and I don’t know if I would have been as productive or motivated without them. Since the start of quarantine they’ve been hosting a weekly song club over zoom where attendees bring in a song each week to get feedback. Not only has it helped me to grow as a songwriter, but I’ve also made some pretty incredible friends in the process. They are my COVID-19 silver lining.
Ashley Maietta Mad Muse Studios Valeria Duque Edward Hernandez