Eye Ra Haze is the latest music project from the super talented, Natasha Singer – daughter of actor, artist and Native American activist Michael Horse and wife of ‘hardcore superstar’ Danny Diablo frontman for Skahead and Crown of Thornz. Natasha describes Eye Ra Haze as a mix between Mazzy Star, Portishead and the Deftones. Here she chats about her interesting and challenging journey so far…
What’s your story?
NATASHA SINGER: I’m an English teacher’s daughter. My mother, who was born in 1937, was a true bohemian and defied her family and society by travelling the world and getting her masters vs. marriage and babies—in the 50s this was a no-no. She gave birth to me in Hollywood in ’77 when she turned 40 and my Dad was only 26! I inherited her strength, free will and sharp teacher tone. My parents, though I lived with them at different times in my life, were both very strict in their own ways and I didn’t get to get into as much trouble as I would have liked to. My Dad is a cool motherfucker and I was always wanted to hang out with him and see what he was listening to or painting or making or fighting for.
After I graduated from North Hollywood High I ran into some trouble and decided to leave it behind for a while, I was personally lost for a number of years. I went to Seattle then Minneapolis, then back to New Mexico, and then back home to the City of Angels, where I slipped into the dark and began writing my best lyrics ever and started the beginnings of Eye Ra Haze. Around the same time I was introduced to my now husband Danny Diablo aka Lord Ezec (pictured below) by a childhood friend from NM. He suggested that Danny have me sing The Human Leagues “Don’t You Want Me Baby” cover on his solo project. Within that year I had recorded three Eye Ra Haze songs and three for Danny’s record. We were in love and had our son on the way. It was magical. That is one way I’d describe my life, good or bad it has been filled with magic.
How did you first come to music?
NS: I used to sneak away from my mother at the grocery store when I was about five and come back with a handful of bills. When my mom made me show her where it was from, she discovered that I had been walking into stores offering a song for $5. Soon after she was diagnosed with breast cancer and we took to Taos, New Mexico. I didn’t understand it then but she was going there to die; it was a hard eight years. There I discovered my spirituality, tribal music and native artists such as Robbie Romero and Trish Hinajosa and began to lose myself in music, mostly Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, The B52’s and The Cure.
In 1991 my mother passed and I moved back to Cali with my pops, there I was inundated with all sorts of new sounds and dark emotions to deal with. He introduced me to Etta James and Nina Simone, whom he lived with briefly when he was 15 and had ran away to New York. It was then I started my long lived love affairs with Janes Addiction and Mike Patton! Also, I was getting more into goth and punk like Souxsie and the Banshees, Iggy pop, Bauhaus, NOFX and Bad religion and my one of my faves Operation Ivy just to name a few.
Why is music important to you?
NS: It’s not necessarily its sole importance for me but what it does for everyone whose life it touches. It can be so many different things, a teacher, a lover, a friend, a punching bag, a revelation.
As a teen you fronted punk bands in L.A. Tell us about that time in your life.
NS: Actually I was in my twenties when I fronted Dead City Rebels. That was the only time I sang aggressively and it was a lot of fucking fun! I was also really drunk! It was a very debaucherous time in my life.
I’ve also read that you ‘came to the attention of Death Row Records’ at one point; what happened there?
NS: [Laughs] That’s a funny story. I was singing to an Aliyah song while working the front desk at a gym when I was 17 and a guy asked if he could bring me to Death Row. Honestly I thought it was a fucking joke till they sent for me one night at midnight. I was all skater-girled out having a house warming party and they called and were like ‘Hey, come down stairs.’ I got into a blacked out limo and headed to Tarzana. Dudes were checking their weapons at the front desk and I was pretty stoned so I appeared calm but inside I was like, what the fuck! I waited until 4am to meet Suge and got to say hi to Snoop and Nate dog while I waited. When I finally made it to the wall to wall red office, I heard ‘Don’t step on the emblem.’ It had me pretty shook I’m not gonna lie. I sang one of my originals a capella for Suge Knight, DJ Quick and MC Hammer strangely. They liked it and there was talk about producing a record for me; I started hanging around events and parties for about a week and then the whole explosion happened at The Soul Train Awards, I guess it was ’96. Anyway I understood that this wasn’t right for me. Shortly after I stepped away from that everyone went to jail. So I’d say I dodged a few bullets there.
Your father is Native American actor and activist, Michael Horse. When I interviewed your husband Ezec he spoke of your father and said: “He is an inspiration. I listen to what he says and that is very hard for me to do ’cause I usually think I know everything!” How does your dad inspire you? What’s the greatest piece of advice he has ever given you?
NS: Honestly the best advice I’ve ever heard him give was to my husband and that was the “there’s a difference between being tough and being strong” conversation. He’s wonderful and tirelessly fights for the rights of people and the planet. He is seriously one righteous human. I listen to everything he says….almost everything.
You have a new band Eye Ra Haze; what’s the significance of the name?
NS: Well a couple things, being native I thought it was a cool play on words – correction my husband thought it first – with The Pima Indian Ira Hayes who was the sad reluctant hero and muse for the Johnny Cash song battle of Ira Hayes (they call him drunken Ira Hayes). Mixed with the powerful symbolism of Egypt. It felt right, my man’s a genius when it comes to stuff like that.
How would you describe the music that you make?
NS: This project is definitely in the vein of Mazzy Star or Portishead vocally but the music is heavy and driving, sometimes ominous, like Deftones.
Who as a performer inspires you?
NS: I love folksy powerful artists. Liz Phair, Cat Power, Buffy St. Marie, Mike Patton.
Tell me about Eye Ra Haze’s first gig ever.
NS: We played the Redstar for one of my husband events, it was packed with friends and family and a lot of love. It could have been fucking terrible but it felt great! The residency we just had at St. Vitus in Brooklyn was awesome, great energy.
What feeling do you get from singing? Is there anything else that gives you this feeling?
NS: I feel strong for those who need my strength and I feel soft and vulnerable for those that need to experience love. Its relief and it’s hard to compare. Its yoga, chocolate and an orgasm rolled into one and maybe a shot of Jameson too!
You recorded a few tracks last year and recently uploaded a new demo song (Warships) to your Soundcloud a month ago; when can we expect an Eye Ra Haze album?
NS: It’s coming! It’s all a matter of finding the right person to go into the studio with. We’re really excited about getting the new stuff out there.
What kinds of themes have you been exploring in your lyric writing?
NS: For this project specifically it’s more gritty, seedy and sexual, although I do have a song called Lullaby that I wrote for my son. I cut myself right open and bled for the songs. It’s very cathartic.
I’ve read that you look to your father’s Indian and mother’s Irish roots for inspiration during song writing; do you feel very connected to your roots and heritage? What kind of inspiration do you draw from these cultures?
NS: Well I can’t prove that it’s directly from my heritage but most of the time I do feel pretty savage and primal. I’m a raw nerve when it comes to the way I write, so much that I struggle to keep it poetic instead of literal.
What does beauty mean to you?
NS: Depends on what I’m looking at really. There’s beauty that strikes you right away and then there’s the kind you gotta dig deep for.
I’ve noticed that you studied at the Aveda Institute; is eco-friendly cosmetology something that’s important to you?
NS: I do my best, recycle, shop local, buy organic when possible. Music also gives you a forum to help make a difference regarding the issues that are important to you.
Who are your style icons/inspirations and what is it about them that you admire?
NS: I’ve never really followed fashion very closely, I like to mix and match. I’d probably have to say Cyndi Lauper but, I always thought that I’d like to dress like Angelina Jolie when I’m all grown up.
Who are the inspiring women in your life?
NS: My mother of course who I proudly mention at the beginning of this interview. My stepmother, Penny Plant. She is right up in it to this day fighting the man and she is the best grandma around. I was lucky enough to have one wonderful loving mother but to get another such relationship is truly a blessing she is my support system.
Other than music, what is something else that you’re really passionate about?
NS: I studied musical theatre and acting since junior high but that’s still entertainment. I’d be lawyer.
For more Eye Ra Haze.
I hope your week has gotten off to a great start!
*Photo credits: 2 – by Jeff Davis Photography / 3 – Raised Fist Propaganda