RS: Another aspect of Grace Jones which you definitely have in
you is the whole idea of being beautiful and presenting yourself in a
creative way. With your videos, like the "Love's the Only Drug," the
first one with the pool scene - were you part of making that video or
what was your role in that process?
Ultra Nate: That particular concept was more from the director, Eric Johnson. He had been a long-time friend of mine who shot me for both my photography for album covers and video stuff. He did a previous video of mine from the Stranger than Fiction album called "Get it Up," which was really good too. So he came up with the concept based on Grey Gardens and that was totally his baby. That's just a matter of trusting that particular individual, because that's not something that I do every time.
RS: That makes a lot more sense now because there is that same
sort of 70s porn vibe with the motorcycle in "Get It Up."
Ultra Nate: Yes, exactly, that's his aesthetic.
RS: Whose aesthetic is the, erm, autoerotic video for Automatic?
Ultra Nate: That's from Karl Giant and he has done some of the artwork, actually, for the album cover, and his vibe and aesthetic is much different from Eric's. I try to work with people whose aesthetic I trust and who come up with really creative and really interesting things. I don't want the standard kind of very middle of the road and regular things. The videos are different in feel but they make sense with the particular tracks that they are done to.
RS: Is that you in the "doll costume?"
Ultra Nate: Yes, it is.
RS: That must have been comfortable.
Ultra Nate: That was my favorite one actually, I love the doll costume.
RS: That's a good lead-in; I don't know if you read this, but
when I interviewed Lady Bunny she said that you're the best-dressed
diva out there.
Ultra Nate: I did. Someone actually called me when she put that out there.
RS: Do you spend a lot of time working on your looks and your fashion?
Ultra Nate: I do and I don't. I do care and I do pay attention to what's happening in fashion but I'm not such a fashion freak where I can't go out the house if it's not altogether. By the same token I'm very like 'whatever, this is me, this is just my vibe and as long as my hair's pumped and my makeup is done, whatever.' There's definitely times where it calls to do the fashion thing and it's not so much the point of trying to be this major fashion leader because I don't work that hard at all, but I think it's a matter of being comfortable in your skin and comfortable in your clothes, even if you're just wearing jeans and tennis shoes and a wife beater...
RS: Those eyelashes that you wore at the Tommy Boy party, they
Ultra Nate: I got a lot of comments about those lashes, they really wigged people out. I think people were really bugging at the fact that I'm a DJ and had those lashes on.
RS: I also gave you the honorary Barbara Tucker "Hardest Working
Diva" award for the Winter Music Conference, because you were just
Ultra Nate: I really was.
RS: On the street singing live, dancing, DJing. How important do
you think the Winter Music Conference is for you as an artist?
Ultra Nate: I've always thought it was very important. It's grown experientially over the last few years and there's so many parties going on that its impossible to do everything you want to do. It's become very commercialized and there are a lot of people there who are not actually industry people who are all up in the parties and all up in the mix. You can look at all those downsides of it, but I feel it's always a good thing because a lot of people in the dance music industry come from all over the place and merge on this one little plot of land and just network, get in the mix, be out and about talking to and seeing people. That makes a connection that makes a very big difference down the line with what's happening with your records. I always believe that out of sight is out of mind and I don't feel like you have to be up in peoples faces to the point of being sickening but people definitely need to feel your energy and your presence, and I think that makes a really, really, really big difference.
RS: About you DJing, a lot of people don't realize that you have
a whole Sugar Crew in Baltimore. How did you DJ career kick off?
Ultra Nate: Actually, Sugar really kind of launched that whole situation. I had started DJing about six months before I started Sugar and that was really experimental. I had some records and my home girl DJ partner Lisa Moody had some records, and we didn't feel like going to a club that night so we wanted to hear some music and just kind of chill with some friends. We just called all our friends up, told them to come over to my little sister's house because she was the only one who had turntables in our crew at that moment, and we brought all our vinyl and we just started. It was an absolute disaster on everybody's ears that first night, but it was enough to catch the buzz. Then we really got tenacious about it and really got the skill for mixing and it just kind of grew from there. The next thing I did was start the Sugar Party and that gave me the platform to DJ and to really hone my skills and grow much, much quicker than I guess a lot of people thought could happen. That's mostly because I grew up in the club scene hearing DJs all the time, I knew what feel I want to bring to my set.