It’s never easy leaving home. The sheer thought of venturing into the unknown can be scary for many of us. But for 26-year-old Natalie La Rose, she knew in order to become a big time star, she had to make some big time decisions.
At the tender age of 20, La Rose moved from her home in the Netherlands to America, in hopes of becoming a singer. With few resources at her disposal, La Rose used her exuberance, talent, and confidence to will her into the position that she is in now: a certified breakout star with a No. 1 hit. Instead of shuttering under the pressure of a new city, culture and way of life, she relentlessly networked. One day La Rose found herself face to face with Flo-Rida at the 2011 ESPYs. She made a promise to herself that she would work with him one day in the future. Little did she know, that time would come sooner than she could have imagined. In 2013, she went on to sign a deal with his label International Music Group and Republic Records.
This year, La Rose released her first single “Somebody” featuring Jeremih. The vivacious singer crushed expectations and landed herself the top slot on the charts. Her dance-happy record has earned her appearances on Ellen and The Late Night Show With James Corden. Now, she is prepping for a tour with Fifth Harmony this summer.
We sat down with Natalie to talk about her decision to move to the U.S., her first encounter with Flo-Rida, her smash single “Somebody,” the best advice she ever received, and more. Get to know her below.
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When did you fall in love with music?
As young as I can remember. I heard music around me growing up because my mom was a great music lover. She listens to Aretha Franklin, Chaka Khan, a lot of all-time favorites. My dad listens to a lot of Jazz. So I got all these different influences. I definitely grew to love music at a really early age.
How would you describe the music scene in Amsterdam, considering that’s where you grew up?
Well, the music scene and music industry is very small. There’s a lot of folk music and a lot of big Dutch singers. Also, if you listen to the radio, it’s very different. You have a lot of different things going on. There’s a lot of pop music, R&B music on some channels, and also music from France and other countries in Europe that they play out there in Holland. So you have a lot of different languages going on as well.
You touched on your parents being music enthusiasts and having a great impact on your musical influences. Were they initially OK with your decision to venture to America to pursue a music career?
Well, I told them when I was really young already, so they were kind of prepared for it. When I actually did, my mom was very scared, but I only heard afterwards. At the time that I moved, she didn’t tell me that she was scared ‘cause she just wanted me to figure out what I wanted and do my own thing. So they were very supportive.
You originally started as a member of a group, but it didn’t pan out. What were some of the things that you learned about yourself during that whole process?
I was in a group from the time I was 12 years old up until a couple of years ago. We had so many great experiences. We did talent shows. We performed at different places. We got a record deal together to begin with. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, but we developed together. If you put us together, we’re a great writing team. When we collaborate with each other, it’s always really good. We always pushed each other to be better. We were like solo artists in a group. So we were always striving to be better and make each other better, which was great.
Take us back to the night you met Flo-Rida and explain how that relationship blossomed to where you guys are at today.
I’m a very determined girl. I always lived towards my goals. I set goals for myself. The day I met Flo-Rida, my goal was to get a collaboration out of it. Basically, I introduced myself and I said, “I think we should work together.” I think that he liked my passion. I was so forward that he just had to give me a chance to play my music. I think he recognized his own eagerness as well, because it’s funny, when he was younger – he’s from Miami – he moved to L.A., as well with nothing. He had a backpack. He went through a lot to get to where he is. He went through the same kind of struggle that I’ve been through with moving to L.A. I think that’s what connects us. I think that’s what he thought was great about me. And that’s why he gave me that chance.
What’s the best piece of advice that Flo-Rida has given you?
Two things: work hard and be patient. I live by those rules ‘cause everybody has their own timing. You can look at your friends and other artists and see their success and how fast it’s going, but it’s not going to help you. You can only go at the pace that’s destined for you. Like, he used to always say that, “Your time will come.” And it’s true.
You toured with him for two years. How has touring with him helped you become a better performer on your own?
It definitely helped me because we performed for so many different audiences. We performed in Brazil in an event for 60,000 people. We performed at a Russian wedding, like a million dollar Russian wedding. We’ve had such a wide range of audiences that we’ve performed for. It gave me the chance to experience different energies and vibes. Flo has such a great way of interacting with the audience, I took a little bit of that for myself.
You have a Top 20 smash on your hands with “Somebody.” How did that record come about in the studio?
Actually, I created the song with Flo and another writer. I had this beat that I really, really loved. I said, “Flo, I really need your help to write a hit for me because I know you’re good at writing hits.” So he was like, “Yeah, let’s go.” So we went into the studio and we were actually there for the whole night. We were just vibing together and being creative. We had the whole song before we came to the part that’s inspired by Whitney Houston’s song, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” I wanted to write something catchy so that everybody could sing along. It took us a couple of hours to come up with the right text for it, because nothing is good enough, you know? It was like, “Let’s try this.” “Nah, that’s not right.” “Let’s try this.” “Nah, that’s not right.” So eventually when we came with “I’m In Love With Somebody,” we all knew that was what we needed.
Are you surprised by how quick the record took off?
I actually am. I knew it was a fun record because everybody we played it for really liked it. But to see it spread nationally and internationally now, it’s pretty amazing. When I sit down and think about it, I’m like, “Wow.” This was my first single and it’s doing so well. I can only be thankful and enjoy how it’s going.
Normally when an artist comes out and has a smash record, they feel the pressure of having to top it. Do you feel that pressure?
I really do just a little bit, especially if the song gets bigger. I actually just released the second one, “Around the World,” featuring Fetty Wap and I’m really excited.
Because you’re from the Netherlands, do you plan on incorporating sounds from your home country onto your music?
Hmmm, that’s interesting. I might. That’s a really good idea, now that you’ve mentioned it (Laughs). That’s just me. I like mixing European sounds with an American sound. That’s exactly what I stand for. I love to mix styles with each other. I might have a Reggae style for one song and then make it a little bit more dance-y with another. I love making people dance.
You performed at Wango Tango this summer with a massive line-up. Were you excited? Were you nervous?
I was so excited. There were very big artists with a lot experience and big track records that were performing there and I was very honored to be there with them.