Interview with NATHANIEL
Multi-platinum selling artist NATHANIEL has just released his edgy new single, Vapours, with an accompanying video shot in rural Victoria. AMNplify’s Pauli Dee spoke to him about recording his first track since leaving Sony, the video and the future…
Pauli: G’day Nathaniel. Thanks for talking to us mate. What’s planned for your Friday night?
Nathaniel: Hi mate. Not much tonight, just chillin’! I’ve just moved house, so it’s been pretty crazy with lots of deliveries coming at different times and you know, the joys of moving house! I have my wife’s family coming over for dinner and check out the new pad and we’re just going to chill!
That’ll be nice because you’ve been working a lot and doing a lot of gigs lately, right?
Yeah man, I’ve been on this club tour for my new single Vapours, which has been fantastic, it’s had a really good reception and it’s all going really well, but it’ll be nice to relax tonight!
You recorded Vapours in L.A, right? How was that?
Yes! I recorded it in L.A with Freshmen3, who are three friends that met in their freshman year and they’re mad! I was over there for most of 2016 so, was there for quite some time.
Does that mean you’ve recorded more than just “Vapours?”
Yeah, I came back with a bucket load of songs, like SO many songs, so I can’t wait to sort of spit them out every so often throughout the year.
What are Freshmen3 like?
Yeah, really cool! They were very easy going, very welcoming. They’ve worked with some big names, like Chris Brown, Nicki Minaj and Britney Spears, all those sorts of guys, so it was a huge opportunity for me. I was like a kid in a candy store! It was awesome and I had a great time working with them.
Vapours is quite different to what you’ve done in the past. Is that Freshmen3’s influence?
Or is that you wanting to go in a different direction to what you have before?
Vapours is a little bit different to anything I’ve done in the past, it’s a little bit more edgy and it’s a bit more rebellious. When I went over to L.A and met these guys, I sort of sat down in the studio and listened to all these instrumentals that they played for me and straight away this R’n’B, urban type of song with a splash of middle eastern sound just shouted out to me and I was like “Man, I love this tune, I want to try to write a song to it” and I did and it worked out really well.
So you wrote the lyrics after hearing the instrumental, is that right?
Yeah man, 100%.
Oh wow, in how long?
Um, a couple of hours! How it came about was, in my phone I tend to have a heap of song titles and notes and stuff like that and I always go to my phone for inspiration and I came across the title “Vapours” in my phone and thought it fit so just started writing a song and there you have it!
So you wrote a song based on the title. Isn’t that different to the usual writing of a song and coming up with the title later?
Exactly! Yeah, every session is always different, you know sometimes I could be writing and just mumbling a heap of words and one particular word could stand out and with this one, I was just scrolling through my phone and saw “Vapours” and thought it’s a really cool title, it’s not overly used and just thought that it worked with the type of song I wanted to go for!
It’s a cool title, it’s a cool song and a really cool video, too!
Yeah, I was really happy with how the video came together. It’s such a big job to release a single, in the way of you not only have to think about the end product, how the song sounds, but there’s also the video clip and the artwork and the branding. It all has to be spot on across the board, so I was happy with how it all turned out and I think it all complemented each other really well.
Did the concept of the video come before or after you recorded it?
Is that something you had a lot of input with?
Yeah definitely, I worked with a guy named Peter Johns from Epic films, who’s had a lot of experience with independent bands in the past and he got recommended to me, so we caught up and I told him I had this vision of an open landscape and I wanted to have this girl in there that’s pretty much buck naked and painted in body paint from head-to-toe!
She looks really cool!
I know. Do you have any idea how long it took for her to get covered in paint? It took like six hours!
Did no-one suggest for you to get in the body paint?
(Laughs) No, no, no, NO WAY! …maybe next video! It was a relatively quick process in terms of shooting, but the set-up, getting to the location, making sure the featured model, her name’s Vanessa was painted in solver glitter paint took about five or six hours, but the shooting process itself, only took about three hours. We had the best time, we had this incredible sunset and it all came together really well. I wanted Salt Lake to be dried up for the shoot, and luckily it was. We rocked up and it was like thirty five degrees. The worst thing was the flies! There was so many flies, so Peter had a big job of trying to disguise and edit all these flies out of the clip. If you watch closely, you can probably make out a few specks here and there, but he did a really good job.
You’ve only got one more gig in W.A next week listed for the VAPOURS tour, have you got many more lined up after that?
Yeah, after W.A, we have a couple more lined up. It’s primarily about just getting out there again, getting my face out there and my songs heard and getting back in contact with my fans that I haven’t been in contact with for a little while.
Any international travel coming up?
Yeah I have a trip to Europe planned for this year and going back and forth to the U.S is just something that I’ve been doing for a few years, so no doubt I’ll be back over there at some point this year.
This is your first independent release since leaving Sony.
What’s working now like in comparison to working with a big name like Sony?
Being with a big name like Sony is like having this big machine behind you and forging through your career, which can be a huge benefit. There’s always that controversial question about does the artist get all the control, but I guess the best way for me to put it is it comes down to a massive compromise. You have to be able to work with someone that gets your ideas and your vision, but you also have to take theirs on board, which I did, you know I had a lot of control for the couple of years I was with Sony, in terms of the type of music I released. Where I am now, independently can be a little more challenging for various reasons, but you just have to keep pushing on!
Is there an album in the works?
Yeah definitely. I need to get some of these songs out there!
Well you wrote Vapours in a couple of hours and shot the video in a few hours, so we’ll expect an album out by Monday?
(Laughs) Maybe early next year at this stage, but we’ll see. Anything can change at any time to tell you the truth.
Are there any other projects that you’re wanting to work on?
I’d love to do some more collaborations. I’m going to try and do a few this year for other artists and for other artists to jump on some of my songs, so that’s something I’m really looking forward to.
Anyone in particular?
Oh man, I’d love to do something with The Chain smokers or a big international artist like Kendrick Lamar, to have him jump on one of my songs would be amazing, or someone like Drake would be a dream.
I guess that answers the next question I was going to ask, which was Is there anyone you’d love to work with that you haven’t yet?
Yeah any of those guys I mentioned or even JT or Bruno Mars.
Oh man, did you see him do the Prince tribute at The Grammy Awards?
I just finished watching that and it blew me away.
Yeah. Oh he’s ridiculous man. I just look at it and go ‘man that takes a lot of rehearsal time and a lot to make sure you get everything spot on.’
Hey, how’s your nose ring?
Oh my god. There’s no piercing I’ve ever had in my whole life that’s given me as much grief for as many months… I got it done about four months ago dude and since the time I had it done, you know you have to wear a stud for three months and after that you can put the hoop in and my final objective was to get this hoop in and I had to wait three months and that three months was absolute hell because it just kept getting infected and I was just getting over it! It’s better now, but man, I used antibacterial ointments and salt water and I think I tried everything under the sun, but it’s much better now and I’m on the mend!
Have you got other piercings?
Yeah I have one tatt, a musical note on my forearm, but I really want to get more.
OK, I ‘ve got a thing I like to do to end my interviews called “One Random Minute”
Do you mind if I just fire off a few quick random questions and you answer as quickly as you can?
Go for it.
One Random Minute
OK, what did you have for breakfast?
Peanut butter and strawberry jam on toast with a coffee
Favourite Australian city?
Peppermint ice-cream or peppermint choc-chip
Favourite super hero?
Apples or bananas?
Boxers or briefs?
Who’s your idol?
Oh man, too many to mention…
OK, I’ll go to the next one; Michael Jackson or Prince?
OH WOW! (Laughs) Oh man, that’s hard… they’re both kings in their own right, but I’m a massive Prince fan. He’s been a massive influence, so I’ll have to go with Prince
If you couldn’t sing, what would you be doing?
Playing professional basketball!