I had the pleasure of interviewing Ryan Natsis, the 19-year-old artist whose nostalgic alt-pop anthems are transforming the music industry.
Based in the queer youth culture of New York City, Ryan processes life as a young transgender person under the stage name LovelyBoy and independently writes, records, produces all their own music.
Armed with guitar, laptop, and do-it-yourself attitude, LovelyBoy’s music tackles LGBT identity, mental illness, and coming of age in a digital era.
Thank you so much for joining us! Let’s show everyone you’re a normal human being. What are your hobbies, favorite places to visit, pet peeves? Tell us about YOU when you’re not at the office.
“Totally! Let me see… I spend a lot of my time in lower Manhattan. Washington Square Park has such great energy, I love it there. It’s one of the epicenters of queer culture in NYC, or at least a big hangout spot. I also dabble in collage art, which you can actually see because I’ve used some of my collages as album artwork for my last two singles. They’re strange but I love them.”
Can you tell us something about you that few people know?
“A kind of fun story I like to tell is about how I used to be a historical reenactor. I’ve always been a huge history buff and in high school I was looking to be in some extracurriculars. So, instead of joining a club or doing sports like other teenagers I was dressing in historically accurate World War II uniforms and operating switchboards and listening to swing music. There were these huge events that our group would go to and set up full camps with those army green tents and everything, and they would fire tanks and all kinds of crazy stuff. Probably one of more exciting and outlandish hobbies I’ve had, haha.”
Do you have any exciting projects going on right now?
“I’m working on my last single before I start working on an album. It’s called Special Agent, and I have my sights set to release a music video for it as well. It caught my attention how a lot of people have that little piece of tape covering their laptop camera because there’s this fear that there’s a government agent watching them go about their day. I thought, ‘Man, if there’s a little FBI guy watching my every move, I’d like to write him a love song’, haha. It’s kind of quirky and sarcastic, but I’m having a really fun time with it.”
Leaders always seem to find ways to overcome their weaknesses. Can you share one or two examples of how you work outside of your comfort zone to achieve success?
“Releasing my music out into the world has been a challenge to overcome in itself. I find myself falling into the trap of unnecessary perfectionism and caring too much what other people think. Every time I release a song I’m getting out of my comfort zone just by putting myself out there. Sharing art is a deeply vulnerable thing but each time I put something out I imagine breaking those habits that hold me back.”
The concept of mind over matter has been around for years. A contemporary description of this is having mental toughness. Can you give us an example (or two) of obstacles you’ve overcome by getting your mind in the right place (some might call this reframing the situation)?
“Getting my mind in the right place is really important thing for me, especially before performing. Even though it’s still a sort of mystery where exactly that ‘right place’ is. Being a performer and having mental illness is a really interesting intersection, but one part of that mental maintenance lies in my pre-show rituals. I burn incense, do yoga, watch videos of Led Zeppelin performing, just the usual.”
What unfiltered advice can you give aspiring stars regarding how to avoid common misfires in starting their career?
“Go all in. You need to start with your goals in mind. It’s hard to not psych yourself out and think, ‘Oh, this probably won’t get popular, so it isn’t worth promoting, spending time on, etc.,’ but you have to treat your work kindly and have the confidence to put your whole effort into every little thing
“Also, don’t let people tell you what kind of art to create. A lot of LGBT artists especially are advised to change their style and be quieter about their identities, but it’s up to us to change the industry for the better and to be a visible community.”
What is the best lesson you learned from your worst boss?
“I learned a good amount of confidence from a bad boss experience actually. I’m usually kind of a rule follower, but lately I’ve been in situations where I know that the authority figure or status quo is wrong. But, it takes confidence to affirm that someone who may have more power than you at a job can still be wrong. That relationship made me trust myself a lot more, trust my own instinct of right and wrong. Especially as a trans person, I find that I have to stand up for myself in these situations a lot more.”
What is one “efficiency hack” you use consistently in your life to keep your time and mind free to focus on your strengths and passions?
“My planner is like my personal bible. As much as I enjoy scheduling on my phone, there’s something I love about writing things down. I use a completely blank, unlined notebook and I create all the sections and formatting myself, like a bullet journal. The trick with that though, is that you have to make sure that your phone and planner correspond with each other!”
All actors or musicians have sleepless nights. We have a term we use with our clients called the “2 a.m. moment.” It’s when you’re wide awake and thinking not-so-positive thoughts about your business choices and future. Can you describe a 2 a.m. moment (or moments) you’ve had and how you overcame the challenges?
“All of high school was a 2 a.m. moment for me, haha. My dad passed away right before I started my freshman year, which was really hard, and I had fallen away from every artistic outlet. I was so numb and out of touch with my emotions that I was just going to abandon all my past artistic passions and join the military.
“Luckily, I had an epiphany at a concert my junior year and got back into music. Still, overcoming those challenges wasn’t a simple one-time thing, I’m still very much in the process of overcoming.”
What’s on the drawing board for your next venture?
“An EP! It’ll be comprised of about five brand new songs and, ideally, I’d love to make music videos for at least two out of those five songs. The concepts for that album are still very much in development.”
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
My Instagram, Facebook, and twitter are @lovelyboymusic
This was really awesome! Thank you so much for joining us!
“Thank you so much for having me!”
Originally published at medium.com