Interview: Nathaniel

Nathaniel has been quite a successful pop star in the Australian music for a couple of years since he’s left TV show ‘The X-Factor’ but it hasn’t all been easy for the talented musician. After more than a decade in the music industry with constant set backs, Nathaniel has finally gotten the success that he deserves. With three already incredibly catchy and popular singles ‘You’, ‘You’re Beautiful’ and ‘Live Louder’, Nathaniel has released his fourth single ‘Flava’, which is sure to have equal success to his past singles.

Thanks to Sony Music Australia, Spotlight Report had the chance to talk about his upbeat new single, his plans for his debut album and the music industry.

So you have a new Flava out now can you tell us a bit about what inspired the track?

A lot of the songs that have written, especially the songs that I have released, have been written upon personal experience. So with this song, for example, I wanted to do a bit more storytelling and I was in the studio with a bunch of guys and we were dancing and singing. We had the concept called ‘Flava’ and we were like ‘that’s really cool’ and we ran with that. From there we started writing this song but it pretty much explains individuality and having a good time with it.

Listening to the track I feel like a hear a lot of Pharrell and Micheal Jackson influences – but what were the actual musical influence for the song?

Yes, definitely those. But for me I am so close to home when I’m listening to soul music and funk, so that’s probably why you can hear abit of those influences there. You know some of those guys are huge influences for me when I am writing a song. I have always loved Michael Jackson and have grown up with his music. I also really love Prince and all that sort of stuff. I guess we sort of drew from those guys and sort of made it our own in a way.

The track was written with DNA songs – from memory you’ve worked with them in the past, what was it like to work with them again?

nathanielYeah, it was amazing. We have written pretty much all of our songs together and I have got an album coming out in July. Majority of the songs written on there are with those guys but we also wrote this song ‘Flava’ with a guy called Louis Schoorl who has had great success with Jessica Mauboy and written stuff with Guy Sebastian. So we were pretty fortunate to have him on board as well.

Funny that you mention working towards an album. I was just about to ask you about that, will ‘Flava’ be what we can expect from the whole sound of the album or do you think it will be really diverse?

It will be really diverse. I have always said I wanted to do a record, this is my first by the way as well, and I have always wanted to make a record where every song on it sounds different but also still has that particular sound and particular thing that I do in every song. So I think it’s really going to be a mixture of Urban, R&B, pop music and soul/funk stuff and singer/songwriter ballads on there. I get pretty vulnerable in the album as well and pretty deep. So I’m excited to see what everyone thinks and I can’t wait until it’s out.

Well we can’t wait to hear it. Has there been a particular reason it has take quite long to release your very first record? Have you been working at it this whole time since your earlier singles ‘You’?

Pretty much. Pretty much the reason why is that I want to make sure it’s right. I don’t want to have songs on the album that sound like a filler. Which is basically a song that you put on there just to fill space. So the songs we have included on the album, we have made sure that every song feels like it could be a single and that’s what we were trying to go for. So pretty much I just didn’t want to rush it and I guess it has taken a little but longer than normal.

Well that seems fair enough. There’s nothing worse than a really great album with that one song that you always have to skip.

Yeah, when you end up having to skip it. I am hoping no one is going to start from the start and skip like five songs and move on. I really want them to enjoy it.

Well I think an album is like a musical book, a book is something that you are going to read from start to finish. It’s not like you are going to skip anything. I think its kind of the same sort of idea should be used when listening to an album. I think it’s pretty much needs to be taken on a bit of a journey, like an emotional rollercoaster and that’s why when it comes down to the tracklisting, it becomes so important. Because as I said before, you want the listener to go on a journey and that’s the easiest way I would put it. It’s like a musical book, so you should listen to every single track in my opinion.

That definitely makes sense. Well what would be the ideal day or location to listen to your music from start to finish when you do have your album out?

Oh man, definitely not gloomy. I know its coming out in the middle of winter (laughs)

 Well maybe it will brighten up winter?

Yeah, maybe it will! You know there’s a lot of stuff on their that will take you on a bit of a journey and a lot of them are going to sound different. I think that a lot of record labels like to pigeonhole an artist in terms of what type of sound they are and stuff like that. From day one I always said, I don’t want to pigeonhole myself, I want to write songs that are catchy but regardless of what genre it is. That is the way a lot of American guys do it, like Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown or Usher or Rhianna, they do something so urban and R&B and than they jump from genre to genre and either do a dance song. You know what I mean, but its still under the same umbrella. It’s all under pop music, or popular music, something that is catchy and a whole bunch of hooks and stuff, it’s something that’s going to be easy to listen to as well. So from day one I have always told myself I don’t want to be pigeonholed in regards to sound and that is why the last four singles inclusive of ‘Flava’ are different. Although for example ‘You’ and ‘You’re Beautiful’ are probably in the same bracket and ‘Live Louder’ and ‘Flava’ are also in the same bracket but they are still all pop songs. You know what I am saying?

Yeah, 100% percent. I agree with you for the most part, but I feel like labels do that from a selling point of view but it is kind of an ancient thing to do. Most contemporary artist can’t be pinpointed down to one genre.

Yeah I that is what it should be about. It should be about the music. You know because I am lover of all genres and music and I guess you could even say I am a bit of a music enthusiast because I don’t just listen to one genre or sound. So that is really something I wanted to bring forth on my own record – which is to have everything sounding different but still under the same umbrella.

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Well I’m super excited to hear it now.

Obviously it is my first record, but I feel like its my best work to date. I have been writing songs for years, especially on my own but every song on this album has been collaborated on but it still definitely my best work to date and I’m really excited to see what everyone thinks but also more importantly about ‘Flava’ and just getting that heard and across the airwaves and hopefully everyone enjoys that as well.

You know what I found interesting with ‘Flava’ is that you released a physical CD copy of the single, I could be wrong but I was under the impression that this wasn’t common with singles anymore.

I think its kind of tradition at the end of the day. It’s something that shouldn’t stop although over the last 10 years its something that has become a lot slower and nowadays you are finding that a lot of record stores that stock CDs are finding it hard to stay in business because now we’ve got iTunes and all those online stores where you can buy more and it’s a massive challenge to sell physical copies but I hope we never get to a point where we stop having CD stores. I am hoping it still sticks around for as long as it should. Man, people need to slow down with technology but in some areas technology should probably speed up but I love a physical copy. It feels as though you have got it in your hand and you feel apart of it as opposed to having it on an electronic device and I don’t it’s a different type of experience having a digital copy and that’s why that with the four singles we have made physical copies of all of them. I think we made them because people are still into buying CDs and records and stuff, even vinyl. So to cut a long story short, I am hoping it stays in tact.

So I wanted to talk to you about your past in the music industry – so before the X factor you were on Australian Idol many many years ago. For you what was the reason to go onto the X Factor?

nathaniel idoDo you know what it was probably like 10 years ago now (laughs). That was in my early twenties, I think when I went on that show. I was in the top 24 and just missed out on the top 12 but you know years ago a reflected on that experience and was like ‘Man, that was definitely the right decision’ because I just wasn’t ready and I wasn’t ready for that whole ride. You know ten years ago, I decided I really wanted to make this a career and wanted to do everything to make sure it was possible. So I started learning how to write songs. I started learning a whole bunch of instruments and getting familiar with that and than I started learning how to produce music and do everything on my own. Than X-Factor came along and I did that but at the same time I was still gigging and I was apart of a whole bunch of different corporate bands. I’m just going to give you my life story right now. (laughs)

Yeah, so I was part of a whole bunch of different corporate bands and doing a lot of weddings and stuff. Then I began to teach singing and I built up my business on my own and than X-Factor came and all that sort of changed and now here I am – four singles deep, an album pretty much done except for two more songs and than the rest is history. So I guess it has been a massive work in progress and it has been a long time coming. I’m nearly 30 in a couple of months, but it has been well worth the wait. I guess have worked on my craft in the years that have gone.

So it has all been positive experiences than – nothing has really knocked you back?

Look, I think there were negatives but I think I have turned all those into a positive. In the last ten years, it’s not like I haven’t tried to get into the industry. You know I flew to America for some opportunities that came knocking on my door but they never worked out and kept on going and more doors shut on me. You are probably going to hear this infamous back story with any artist, you know there is always doors shutting on them and stuff like that but everything happens for a reason and I think it was meant to be. It was meant to be for me, it was meant to happen for me right now instead of it happening years ago.

Nathaniel’s new single ‘Flava’ is out now!

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