Nate James - Interview

21 July 2005

Nate James

Nate James - Interview

Nate James - Interview
Contactmusic spoke to emerging UK soul star Nate James.

How are you?

I’m great thanks; I’ve had the day off! Well I say that in the loosest of terms, I haven’t been rehearsing with the band so I have been to the gym, been swimming and for a steam and now I have a bit of work to do but it’s been pretty relaxing so far.

So back to the beginning, how did you get started out?

About five or six years ago I was in a group who were signed by Warner Brothers, we got stuck up in the record label merge situation so we left the label, the group stuck together for a few months and tried to keep things on track but I wasn’t really feeling it so I jumped ship and we very amicably called it a day and I got on with my solo work.

A lot of the first solo songs I wrote weren’t angry but maybe a little miffed at the industry because of what had happened to us. We had a great lifestyle and tasted what it was like to be a singer and to make music and enjoy it and it was taken away from us.

You must have been pretty young when you started out then, was music a big part of your childhood?

Oh yeah I grew up in a very musical house, my Mum and Dad both loved soul music, well all sorts of music but especially soul. I’ve been singing since I was little, mainly along to the likes of Stevie and Marvin and whoever else they would play. I’ve loved music since the day I could speak.

How’s life at one two treating you?

Life at one two is brilliant, I was very lucky really not in an arrogant sense but I was put in the position to choose where I wanted to go. I wanted to go somewhere that I knew everyone that worked there. One two have a great thing going for them because they are independent yet have the power of a major label. They really believed in my music, they didn’t try and change anything about me, from day one they just wanted me to be myself. I hope that together we will go from strength to strength.

And things are looking good for you both!

Yeah! Things are looking pretty peachy at the moment!

There’s been quite a resurgence of good soul music recently, with the likes of your label mates The Brand New Heavies, JK and who can forget about Mr Wonder who keeps bringing out new material. With you being a new artist do you think this has helped you break into the scene?

All the artists that have come before me like all the greats like Al Green, Marvin Gaye and obviously some of the newer UK music like Craig David, Lemar & Omar have all helped me indirectly because they have broken a few barriers in the industry and also in the public as to what soul music is and what it’s about. So yeah they have made it easier for me. I just hope in 10 years time if I’m still around some new artist can say Nate and this person that person really helped me get to where I am because they helped me break down these doors that I originally found very hard to get through.

The new single Universal is sounding great!

I wrote it with a guy called Ed White, he wrote the Natalie Imbruglia single Shiver and Will Young’s Leave Right Now. He’s a great character and an amazingly talented guy. We managed to hook up and get a couple of days together. He knew what I sounded like and what my music sounded like and he had the original hook and it did sound pretty Stevie Wonder esque, it wasn’t taken off a Stevie track or anything but it has the same vibe because of the arrangement. Actually I had been out with my mates the night before and we were having a discussion about what our favourite type of woman and they were asking me what I preferred blondes, brunettes, green eyes, blue eyes and I replied by saying I didn’t really have one, I like them all! I think if you’re picky then your limiting yourself as to what you have so if you’re being picky then you’re maybe not going to get as lucky as you are if you’re being open minded. When I got into the studio and started work with Ed I just decided that would make a great song with the music as it was.

Universal is pretty up beat and, well it’s a great summer tune. Is that the basic vibe running through your new album ‘Set the Tone’?

Yeah, it’s a very up-tempo album. Actually there’s one ballad on there, it’s the most amazing song, but unfortunately it’s the only song on the album I didn’t write. I was offered it by two writers Jamie Hartman and Ryan Shaw, they told me they had written a song and they wanted me to sing it because it was really suited to my vocals. I agreed and now it’s sounding phenomenal, I hope it’s one of those tracks that don’t go away. It’s called justify. The rest of the album is as I said very up tempo I guess it’s a good album to listen to before you go out or in your car. I don’t know we will see how it sells!

When is it out?

August the 8 th! I can’t wait; I want to go home and walk past HMV and see it in the window or something.

Have you any shows coming up around the UK?

Yeah well I have pencilled in a tour for October time. It isn’t reliant on the album sales but I don’t really want to do it without a reason. I guess it will be about 8 dates around the UK. I have three more single to release this year too, It’s all go at the moment!

Which song off ‘Set the Tone’ best suits your mood today?

Umm? I’m quite chilled out today, there’s a song on the album called ‘Funky Love’ there features an artist called Carmen Reece, she’s a beautiful vocalist and she’s blessed me with a bit of her fairy dust on my album. It’s about being chilled out and you know when you just people watch in the summer? It’s one of those sorts of songs. But obviously I was singing about a girl on the track, she’s a taken girl unfortunately! We’re singing about wanting someone but not being able to have them.

Do you play any instruments?

I can dabble, I can play enough to write music but I don’t play anything well! I only play for myself. I think if I was to play an instrument at one of my shows I think everyone would walk out.

Who else have you been listening to?

I’ve been listening to a new Warp artist Jamie Lidell. I was in my PR company yesterday and they had music playing and I heard it and thought it was really funky so they gave me a copy. Maroon 5, Joss Stone and a band called Mean Condition; they’ve just released a new album. My car has been pumping some good tunes recently.

What do you drive?

I drive an MG ZR I bought it as I little treat to myself when I signed my deal; I live quite out of the way in East London so I really needed a car to get around. It’s good to have a car again.

How old are you?

I’m 25, I keep on being told I’m still a baby!

What was the first single/album you bought?

Arrested Development – Everyday People, and to this day if it still comes on I dance my ass off to it! It’s just one of those happy funky tunes. That seems to be what I’m drawn to.

Apart from music

Well I enjoy going to the gym, working up a sweat. I love swimming and obviously going out on the beers with my friends and brother. I like travelling I’d love to do more. I don’t have enough time to do many things. I love music, my main interest is also my career.

What next for you Nate?

Well I have the singles and album to release, I’m going over to America to do some recording and I think I’m going to do some shows over in America too. The second album is near enough done so that’s all set for next year. I guess I will have a lot of promotion work to do.


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