Interview: Thelma’s Natasha Jacobs

By Jon Fuchs, Music Director

Thelma is truly a project like no other. Fronted by none other than Natasha Jacobs, the Brooklyn-based band creates indie-folk soundscapes truly their own, impressing audiences with a debut record with such haunting and real atmospheres, it becomes almost impossible to describe. I got to talk to Jacobs after her excellent set at The Salon in Athens, OH about the record, tour and what’s to come for Thelma.

You’ve been on tour for the new record for a while now. How long has the tour been? What have been your favorite cities?

This is actually the shortest tour we’ve ever done. I’m kind of in the middle of my semester at school so it’s just been a little over a week and a half. It’s definitely been the most fun tour so far, it’s definitely more fun now that we have music out. We played a really fun show in Atlanta with Floral Print and this band Loner and Reptar and it went super late and there were a lot of people and really good energy. It was really fun.

Your debut record is incredible. What has the support for the album been like?

I’m super grateful for the support we’ve gotten. I think it’s a little hard, I feel like our music isn’t the most accessible music, so it doesn’t appeal to everyone. It’s definitely not blowing up or anything. But I’m super grateful for the people who it’s really stuck with and I’m excited to see how that grows.

What’s especially great about the record is that it sounds like nothing that’s been released this year. What is your writing process like both lyrically and instrumentally and who are your influences?

I think that’s changing a lot. For this specific record, I wrote them all as solo songs before I brought them to the band, which I think is probably going to be very distinct to this record because I had all my parts very fleshed out, and nothing I was doing, for the most part, changed with the band. It was more them having shape stuff around me. I feel like while writing this record, I was really obsessed with Mary Margaret O’Hara. Not many people know her, she has a small cult following, and she’s just really inspiring to me. Growing up, I was really obsessed with Joanna Newsom so I feel that really gets in there no matter what. Jeff Buckley, maybe – I feel like I was really inspired by him. Going forward, I feel like the process is feeling really different. I’ve been writing a lot of songs on piano and then arranging them with the band so it’s like we arrange the songs completely different from how I initially write them, which is a cool new process because I feel like I’m writing my guitar parts really differently than how I was when I was thinking of them more as a solo project.

The record was put out on Tiny Engines, which is really impressive since it’s your first release under the name Thelma. How did you start working with them?

My friend Steph, who’s in Adult Mom, was signed to Tiny Engines and we went on tour once together, and so I think they had heard of me from that. Steph was really rooting for me and I think that definitely really helped.

Do you have any upcoming projects in the works?

Yeah, we’re working on another record!

What advice do you have for any artists who are struggling or feel discouraged with their work?

I think really often I get kind of bummed out and I wish that my music was more accessible or more people liked it. But every time I try to write music like that, it just doesn’t sound good. So I think it’s so important to stay true to yourself because the best music that you’re going to write as an individual is what comes out of you naturally. And, of course, you can change your influences, you can get inspired by different things. Things can change over time, but I think just staying true to yourself – and it sounds so cheesy and so typical – but it’s just so important. You’ve got to do what’s you and not what’s someone else.

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