Oh hey there! My name is Nathalie-Rose Ezmeralda, but Nathalie Ezmeralda will do. I’m a singer songwriter from Indonesia and I just released a single called “Pretty Birds”, a female empowerment anthem I’m very excited to share with you about.
I grew up in a very artistic and musical family with a hot mess of musical influences starting from classical, jazz, rock, the 80s and the list goes on. Though it took quite a journey to figure out what I actually wanted to do because I was convinced that doing music seriously wasn’t going to sustain me, eventually I told myself to just do it while I was studying another vocational course in Sydney Australia.
So I signed myself up for a bachelor’s degree in music, more specifically vocal performance in contemporary music, to keep up with all the piano lessons I skipped as a kid. That’s where I started writing songs and experimenting with production.
I was blessed to find myself amongst people who are very talented in what they do and have the same vision. One of those people is my good friend and producer Kyle (Chikai Yin), who funnily enough kind of started the process of writing “Pretty Birds”. One night when we were all just hanging out, he made a comment that if I was an animal, I would be a parrot and a lightbulb lit up in my head.
When I first started writing, it was all about how I viewed myself as a woman. It was about not being your stereotypical girly girl and I wanted other girls who felt the same way to be able to relate. We were almost done recording it when the Sarah Everard case happened in the UK. A woman who got raped and killed by a police officer while walking home.
I remembered reading it and just feeling really frustrated because I knew that every single female has experienced the same fear she must’ve felt in some form in their life. I didn’t want the song to be a missed opportunity and completely changed its purpose, so I re-wrote the lyrics.
I thought if for any reason people can’t say how they feel out loud they could always sing it out loud and I wanted to give them that song. I tried to be careful with how I was portraying women because we aren’t helpless victims, but I also didn’t want it to be just a rant. So it became a statement of our worth and value as females and it talks about our beauty and strength without being owned by anyone, basically free birds.
The next step was the cover artwork. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m fascinated by flowers, so of course for the cover artwork I really wanted to have flowers in it, one that would represent the song’s theme.
I started looking up flowers that symbolizes freedom and to my surprise Birds of Paradise was one of the first one to pop up, so without hesitation I decided it would be in the cover artwork. I reached out to graphic designer and illustrator Feli Deru (@the.foureyedcat on Instagram) to do the illustration for it and she made it come to life so beautifully.
All in all, it took about nine months from when we first recorded until it was up for release. This was because it came with a few road blocks. Kyle would actually say that it was one of the most creatively challenging projects he’s done.
The main reason is when I wrote “Pretty Birds”, I was just singing it to what felt right to me. I don’t really use much references and I adopt different genres when I write, so it wasn’t a typical pop song structure or progression.
The first thing he pointed out was that I switched from a 6/8 to a 4/4 time signature in the middle of the song and it took him two weeks to figure out how to make the transition smooth because he didn’t want it to sound like two songs glued together. Then of course with the lyric changes and recording on different days due to our school schedules and work, he had to deal with different vocalizations as well.
There was even a point where we didn’t even know what to do with it anymore, but it didn’t sound like it was finished, so we just trialed some harmonies and whispers to to see if it’d work. I’m pretty sure he said he wanted to quit working on it at least 4 times, but obviously we’re very grateful that we didn’t.
My only wish for the song is for its message to be heard and it could somehow make a difference, so I’m very grateful for everyone who has listened to it and shared it.
You can listen to “Pretty Birds” here.