Q+A: Nadia Ackerman, Natchie

This Thursday, Live at the Archway will feature a performance by nine-piece pop ensemble Nadia Ackerman and the Harold Pinter Orchestra. In addition to being a singer-songwriter, Nadia is also the artist behind DUMBO’s Natchie Art. We sat down with Nadia to learn more about her unique creative process.

Tell us a little about the story behind Natchie Art.

I started this kind of by chance— I don’t really know what I’m doing [laughs]. When I was working on my second album of original music, I started seeing the music as complete drawings. There were twelve songs on the record and I had twelve drawings in my head, and it was really powerful. It was more just about wanting to get them out of my brain, so I just started drawing.

I had a CD launch for the album, and I was performing at a gallery so I thought it would be a cool idea to hang all the drawings on the night of the launch. And then people wanted to buy them! As people started to buy them, I thought I better photograph them so I have documentation. Then I had these high-resolution photographs, so I made greeting cards with the lyrics on the back and a code so you could download the song. It started with greeting cards and now it’s this.

Tell us about your creative process and how music becomes art.

The songwriting process is very quick. The songs arrive in my head fully-formed. They have the title, the chords, the melody, the harmony, the lyrics— everything comes at once and usually a song is complete in an hour. During that process while I’m writing the song I can see the drawing already.

Where did the name “Natchie” come from?

It’s my nickname that my dad gave to me when I was thirteen.

In addition to being an artist, you’re also a really accomplished musician. Are there any particular highlights from your musical career thus far?

I’d say the best gig so far has been Sting's "Rock for the Rainforest" concert at Carnegie Hall. It was pretty overwhelming to walk onto that stage. I’ve been a back-up singer there for six years, and there will be another one coming up next year. It’s a really amazing show because we get to perform with tons of different artists. Usually Sting, Billy Joel, James Taylor, Elton John are the core and then there’s always these special guests like Bruce Springsteen, Feist, or Jennifer Hudson.

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?

It's way different today than back in my day when I first started. But I think the key is to follow your dreams, be unique to who you are, be fearless, and work really hard.

There’s a feeling here in DUMBO that’s very creative... I feel like the neighborhood is still holding on to its quirkiness.

Nadia Ackerman, Natchie

What brought you to DUMBO?

There’s a feeling here in DUMBO that’s very creative. There are so many artists and it’s still very up-and-coming. I feel like the neighborhood is still holding on to its quirkiness, unlike other neighborhoods that have become very commercial. DUMBO still has that ‘thing’ that I’m looking for.

What’s your favorite spot in DUMBO?

Anything on the water!