"Are we gonna fall in love?" questions rising singer/ songwriter Natasha Hunt Lee on her debut single, "Fancy Night," admitting that it's probably "gonna fuck me up." Like the worst — or best — kind of whirlwind love affairs though, the California newcomer selfishly "can't help it" and ultimately offers an alluring proposition: "I'm in this dress, let's make a mess..."
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Inspired by a shroom-filled night mid-quarantine, Lee's breakout song captures the spirit of a dressy LA house party filled with "overwhelming beauty of everybody you love being in one room." The heightened memory, which she says sent her into a "six-month comedown," is captured in detail on her melodic, piano-led track.
"To make it even more absurd, I think I'm falling for someone in the room," Lee explains, describing the fleeting connection as "outrageously disarming" despite it likely being "a figment of my romantic imagination." This dreamy spirit runs throughout "Fancy Night," with Lee singing honestly, like her lyrics were never meant to be made public.
PAPER caught up with Lee to dive further into the Sophie Rose-produced cut, which marks her first official release. After heavy delays negotiating with insecurities and fears "that I'm not good enough or cool enough," she's finally ready to introduce herself as a solo artist, with a handful of voice memos to be polished and put out in coming months.
This is your first official release. How'd you decide that this is the statement you want to make?
It took me five years to like a song enough. My friends kept telling me to let go and just do it, so, then for a while I was just waiting for the right thing. "Fancy Night" felt so much my own, all dramatic and specific and sentimental. I just really wanted my first song to be as true as possible. It's an almost exact memory, so I figure it doesn't get more honest than that.
What took so long for you to get to a point where you're ready to embark on this journey?
It's just fear — that I'm not good enough or cool enough or that the song isn't ready, anything to delay. But I am so lucky to be surrounded by truly the best group of people on this planet who have lifted me up so much as a person and as an artist. When I started feeling that kind of support and belonging, it somehow translated into self-esteem, and then I felt ready.
What was your process for writing this song? Did you knock it out in one sitting?
I started writing down moments from this absurd night a couple weeks later. My friend Kevin in this beautiful pair of slacks, the bigness of this room we were all dancing in — every detail that made it so special to me. About a week later I was feeling really weird, in some emotional comedown, so I tried to string everything together to make myself feel better.
Who'd you collaborate to bring your melodies and lyrics to life?
I brought the song to my friend, Sophie [Rose], who is an amazing artist herself. She is so good with letting the natural song breathe above all the production. We worked together so seamlessly and it made me even more confident in this song being the one. Then my other friend, Sophie [Cates], came in with us one day to finish it up, add some harmonies and shake a set of keys for the snare. That's the Sophie I refer to in the song, so it all felt extra perfect.
Tell me about the house party that helped inspire this song.
"Fancy Night" is about one of those nights where it's almost impossible to be present because of how overwhelmingly beautiful everything is. I kept fighting to stay in the moment. All of us were in our little outfits, everyone was so happy, we were all so excited by this mutual obsession with each other.
Also, there were mushrooms, which I feel like I need to explain because otherwise I'm really sounding like the most dramatic woman of all time. Which, regardless, I may be. Anyways, it was overwhelming — so much so that it was hard for me to let go of afterwards. And then I was sitting there thinking that I can't let my crippling sense of sentimentality ruin something so wonderful just because it's over. That's something I'm working on!
Where do you want your music career to go now? What can we expect next?
Somewhere! I'm not sure exactly, but I am so excited to finally be doing this whole thing. I finally feel ready; I finally like myself enough to put myself out there; I finally trust my music enough. I can't wait for my next release in mid-November. We just shot the most incredible video. It's called "It's Hell in Here Tonight," which, as you can imagine, is about a party that did not go as well.
Photography: Callum Walker Hutchinson