NATALIE ELIZABETH WEISS
Composer, Librettist, DJ, Performer
NATALIE ELIZABETH WEISS creates experimental electro-acoustic music that places storytelling at the nerve center of her work. A self-taught multi-instrumentalist and DJ, Natalie dropped out of drama school in 2004, moved to Brooklyn and began composing for her avant-garde performance group Unicornicopia. Within a year she was DJing professionally. Natalie’s hybrid musical work has been presented at Carnegie Hall, PS1: MoMA, BAM, The Munch Museum (Oslo), New York Theater Workshop, Roulette, Le Poisson Rouge, Joe’s Pub and the Performa Biennial. Projects include collaborations with Caroline Polachek (Chairlift), Ches Smith, Jeremiah Cymerman, Joshua Rubin, Shelley Burgon, Brian Chase, choreographer Celia-Rowson Hall, costume designer Machine Dazzle, as well as members of Wooster Group and Fischerspooner. Special thought is always given to the set, costumes and lighting and Natalie usually performs in her own work.
Her first experience working with orchestral instruments was in 2008 when she teamed up with composer Conrad Winslow and glitch-hop producer Machinedrum on a music theater piece called Camp Wanatachi -- it’s about two teenage girls that fall in love with each other at Christian summer camp. Although Natalie saw her work as being best situated alongside noise bands and performance artists, Camp Wanatachi was embraced by the musical theater community. The Off-Broadway run of Camp Wanatachi at LaMaMa was heralded as “hilariously subversive” (NY Magazine), “refreshing and uplifting” (TimeOut NY) and “best queer-inclusive theater of the year” (The Advocate). Fast forward to 2022, Camp Wanatachi is currently being adapted into a feature film by Zaden/Meron, the Academy Award winning producers of the seminal musical films Chicago, Hairspray and Footloose.
In 2011, Natalie received a composition mentorship fellowship with The Brooklyn Philharmonic, during which she worked closely with its then Artistic Director Alan Pierson and composition mentor Randall Woolf. During that fellowship, Natalie
learned to notate music and she laid the groundwork for her first opera: Borderland. Borderland is a dark comedy about Ida C. Craddock, a real-life 19th-century sexologist who claimed to be married to an angel. After taking a decade away from the opera to develop her career as a DJ and educator, Natalie returned to Borderland during the pandemic. In May 2022, Natalie presented an evening length concert of Borderland at Roulette Intermedium, featuring string quartet The Rhythm Method, percussionist Shayna Dunkleman, synth/electronics wizard Joe McGinty and 10 vocalists, including herself as the lead role of idiosyncratic Ida C. Craddock.
Natalie’s work as a DJ very much informs her orchestral arrangements. Her interactive DJ sets have lit up dance floors across the US, South America and Asia. She has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Rolling Stone, TimeOut NY, the New Yorker, VICE and other media outlets worldwide. Natalie is also the founder of Baby DJ School, a music education program that teaches infants and toddlers to DJ in order to accelerate their cognitive development. Baby DJ School has been described as “an exciting new musical landscape” (TIME Magazine) and “really creative and fun” (Good Morning America). As an educator, she has also been a visiting artist to MFA students at NYU and has led two experimental composition classes -- both of which were featured in The New York Times.