“Music is older than the music industry and art is much more poignant and powerful than just the idea of just doing it”
It’s been almost a decade since Natalie Stewart last recorded as one-half of Floetry with schoolmate Marsha Ambrosius. Their short but potent run started in their native London, landed in Philly and brought a rare spoken soul bohemianism to Black pop. Floetry joined a line of Black Brits like Slick Rick and Monie Love whose craft blended well enough into American culture to make them sound like native insiders. Stewart’s Floetic muse outlived the group and took her personalization of the spoken word form into solo territory that now has three albums to her credit. Rise Of The Phoenix Mermaid is a sensually executed feminist humanist expression of where she is in her life now and her third collaboration with Chris “Big Dog” Taylor. In this interview she discusses the new album, Floetry and her next creative stop.
What is the significance behind the title, Rise Of The Phoenix Mermaid?
The title came to me very much from a meditation just about where I am in my life, what cycle I’m experiencing right now. So the title is about the harmony of the self. I have the Phoenix representing the fire being and the mermaid representing the water being and that would be the left brain and the right brain, the body and the soul. The two aspects of myself and being in harmony and when the water rises that’s the kind of quantuum physics connectivity between all aspects so it’s very much about a cipher and a cycle of time. It’s this era, it’s the Rise of The Phoenix Mermaid.
When we usually think of the Phoenix we usually think of rising from the ashes, but you threw some water in it, so how does that define the concept of the album?
Well you’d be right when you say when we think of the Phoenix we think of ashes, it’s the being that goes through that part of the fire and comes out on the other end that fire is the purification of self. How that concept relates in this journey I come to find myself as a solo recording artist something I was never trying to be. From a point of poetry the poetic structure and the percussive structure and what happens when you bring those together. It had areas of experiences and challenges and things of the ego so that’s how it all comes together to do with the journey that has been manifested and the more ancient aspect of self. It is about the rising of the flame but that flame is from the ocean like a volcano surrounded by water. The harmony of the two elements you can take of fire and water and what happens when you find harmony between these elements what being is manifested.