A while back, I interviewed a “Rookie” musician. We had a chance to catch up and talk about the in’s and out’s of the music scene. Check out the interview below.
Hey, Nathan. Glad to be chatting with you again. When we last spoke, you were pretty much brand new to the music game. Tell me how you think that you’ve progressed in your craft in the past few months.
Hey DJ X Tech, it is a pleasure to speak with you again… I think the main thing that has changed for me is being more confident in releasing music. When I first started putting songs out it was a little bit worrisome for me. Now I know that my style is well received and at the end of the day it does not really matter. People are either going to get behind a song/artist or they aren’t and there is nothing you can do or say to change that. So now I put out a song and just let it do it’s thing.
Tell us what was the inspiration was for your song “The Look In Her Eyes”.
Well, I am a professional horse trainer and Farrier/Blacksmith by trade. I train American Saddlebred Horses, Hackney Ponies, Morgan Horses, and Fresians. The day I got the idea for this song I was teaching the girl who is working for me about starting young horses in their training. I told her that there is an old trick to training horses that the old timers used a lot but the younger trainers have forgotten about. Choosing which horse to saddle up by the look in its’ eyes. As soon as I said that I thought “that is a song and I need to write that down”. From that I wrote “The Look In Her Eyes”. Changing the use of that method from choosing horses to choosing the right woman for yourself. Some are soft and tender, some are wild and flighty, and others have that look that says “I dare you to try”.
We spoke briefly about the difficulty with being known these days. What do you think are some of the major hurdles out there to overcome?
There are so many hurdles to overcome when you are an independant artist. And I am not complaining, I love a challenge. The oversatuaration of streaming services is the first one. There is Spotify, AppleMusic, ITunes, and then about 200 more that I have never even heard of. Everyday a new one is popping up. The artists that have deals are so indebted to whatever label they are on they just keep pumping out song after song after song. All of them chasing the same sound because that is what is hot right now. For what, .99 per song? And that is if someone buys it rather than just listening on YouTube. Artists like me who write original music are having a really hard time because no one has the attention span to give a new artist a go anymore. If it doesn’t sound familiar, with the click of a button they can find something that does. Very few people build a relationship with the music they listen to today. I think part of that comes from the ability to stream music rather than buying a physical copy of it. The cover art is gone, no liner notes, no information on the artist, or lyrics… That is why i do cover art with every song I write. I have a copy of all of the artworks framed on my studio wall. Why? Because that makes it personal. I think we need to make people passionate about what they listen to again.
Speaking of difficulties. Social media is always a hurdle, how do you feel that you’ve progressed in your media presence?
I am TERRIBLE at all of the social media stuff. I’m fairly anti-social anyway so it is not in my nature to post everything in my day to day life. I am trying to get better at it because it is the way the world turns now. But man, it is painful for me. I am not one who likes to talk about myself, or hang out just for the sake of hanging out. I like to go and do and be productive and create things. Make things happen the way I want them to. Like I said, I am trying hard to get better at it.
How are you feeling about playing live shows now that venues are opening back up?
Well, I thought they were opening back up. There is talk up here about things being restricted again. I really don’t know, I do not like that no two medical professionals can agree on what to do. In terms of playing live, the biggest problem I have noticed is that places want novalty acts or cover bands right now. Getting your foot in the door as an original artist is pretty tough. Same problem as getting your name out there, if people don’t know your music establishments are worried about taking a chance on you.
Another song you released recently is “The Carpenter and the Seamstress” – What was your motivation behind this song?
That is a great song… My girlfriend always tells me that is a song to get high to and contemplate the lyrics. So I do not sleep a lot, I never have. Even when I was a kid I would just lie in bed and stare at the ceiling until 3a.m. before finally dosing off. That being said, I was in bed thinking about people who seemingly had everything but still committed suicide. People like Robin Williams, Chris Cornell, etc. Then I thought, well what if we all have a Carpenter and a Seamstress within us? Both of which are there to protect us. The Carpenter builds defensive walls whenever we are attacked emotionally in an effort to shield us from whatever the attack was. The seamstress sews up any tears in our emotional fabric keeping us safe and warm from whatever hurt us. But, The Carpenter and The Seamstress inadvertantly trap all of our feelings of anger, sadness, and regret inside. Never allowing us to show those feelings or experience them. In short, they hide us away from those that we love and those that we hate or have hurt us. Finishing the Walls to Make Sure We Die Alone. Hey, You asked! I really like that song and it has been well received by those who are not intimidated by it.
What are your future plans for your music?
I’m just rolling with the punches man. I’m going to keep writing and releasing music until I figure out how to navigate all of this stuff. I just want people to hear my music, conect with it, and hopefully find some happiness. Maybe someone will hear one of my songs and not feel so alone in the world. The plan is to just keep on putting it out there. I have several new releases on deck!
What’s a song that you hear and it always has that “wow, I love this song” factor for you?
That is a hard one. There are several songs that I have that reaction to. Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Withers), Fade to Black (Metallica), Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash), Hallowed Be Thy Name (Iron Maiden), Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd), Good Vibrations (Beach Boys). I could go on and on.
It seems almost impossible to promote music on Spotify to try and rack up some streams. Which media outlet has seemed to be easier to promote your music on?
I will be honest, I feel like I am striking out on all of them. Not in a pity party kind of way, there is just no way to get your music in front of the right people when the powerhouse record labels can push their people straight to the front. Like I said, I am no good on social media but there has got to be a way to get in front of more people. I honestly think YouTube has been the best source of people at least listening to my stuff. I haven’t gotten much ground on Spotify or any of those types of platforms. Deezer is France has gotten a little bit of action with my stuff. But again, I just have not figured out the right equation for building a legit fan base yet.
As you know, I have this belief that everyone deserves to be heard and I try to get my artists as much publicity as possible. Putting aside Spotify, I think the music industry has turned its back on musicians. Thinking back to how music used to be ingested in the past, do you feel there will ever be a return to the old days or, will it just become even that much more difficult to get your music out there in the future?
I think it is always going to be next to impossible to get your music in front of the right people by yourself. What you are doing is going to help independent artists like me reach folks that would normally not know we exist. That being said, vinyl is trying to make a comeback and so are CDs and cassettes so there may be hope yet. I think if the physical ownership of music were to come back things might get closer to how they used to be. People would start righting albums again rather than releasing a new song every 2 months.
If you were given a choice to either take a $100,000 one time payment and then you try to make it work or… Get $500 bucks a week, for good, to make music your primary focus, which would you choose?
$500 a week definitely. $100,000 is nothing today. You would be all excited and run out and buy a bunch of new shit that you don’t really need to start with. Then you would look at your bank account and see that you have already burnt through 80% of your cash. I would not stop working regardless but that steady $500 a week will get you through and if you are smart will help you make more money with other endeavors. There is nothing more important when trying to accomplish something than steady income, period.
How do you feel about the current situation in the mainstream music world?
Well, I feel like there are 4 artists, 3 engineers, and 2 producers creating everything out there right now. That is why it is all average, it all sounds the same, and it feels like everyone is just going through the motions. I am not digging it at all.
Writers block is inevitable, have you been in situations where you were stuck in a “Rut” an, if so… How do you think that you pulled yourself out and got to creating again?
Yes it happens from time to time. I have found that listening to some Motown or some funk from the 70s can really break a dry spell. Also some oldies from the 50s and 60s with all of those harmonies can really get you inspired to create something. And if that doesn’t work, just go on a long drive and forget your phone and a note pad and I guarantee you will be stopping at a gas station grabbing a napkin to write an idea on.
Generally, what does your creative process look like? Is it usually a random idea that pops to mind or, some type of life event?
Most of my ideas come to me when I am working horses, or forging steel. Whether I am making horseshoes or a knife, something about the hammer ringing on the anvil gets the creativity moving along. The same happens with the sound of a horses feet hitting the ground. It must be the steady beat. Then there are those times where an interesting melody just jumps in my head. When I wrote “Bullet” I was driving and passed an old rundown bar. So you never know.
I want to thank you for chatting with me again. Any final thoughts?
Thanks DJ X Tech it is always nice to talk with someone who understands how hard this industry can be. I look forward to another round.
A very special; thanks to Nathan for letting us catch up with him. Remember to follow on the folling:
Nathan Brachear (facebook)