On June 25, 2009, the king of Pop Michael Jackson passed
away, leaving a legacy that will remain in the world forever. From his lyrics
to beat samples and dance moves, our generation will continuously pay homage to
the late king. The death of Michael Jackson effected people all around the
world, especially those whose music he inspired.
Nathan, a 22 year-old singer-songwriter hailing from the UK,
is a budding star who cites Michael Jackson as one of his key influences, along
with Marvin Gaye and Will Smith.
With artistic genes in his blood, the young singer’s break
into the entertainment industry was not by luck, but more so by destiny. After
winning a contest allotting him time at Sony Studios and penning his first song
at the age of 14, Nathan’s path was being tailored to fit his unique journey.
Nathan’s catchy records created a buzz on the UK Urban radio
airwaves. He later released his debut album Masterpiece independently on Mona Records, in both the UK and
Japan. His single “Do Without My Love” earned him a 2006 Urban Music Award
(UMA) for Best R&B Act, which he won over artists such as Ne-Yo and Akon.
In 2007, Nathan won another UMA for Best Music Video for the track “Cold As
Ice,” which featured Miami rapper Rick Ross.
With some experience in the game and a few accolades under
his belt, Nathan is hard at work on his next LP. Currently residing in the
U.S., his first single “Superwoman” is one for the ladies, and the track “Dirty
Sexy Money” is definitely receiving radio love.
We spoke with Nathan about how he got his big break, the
singer-songwriters that inspire him, and creating his sophomore album!
AllHipHop.com Alternatives: When did you fall in love
Nathan: That’s crazy
that you ask me that; Michael Jackson is the person who made me fall in love
with music. For me that was a gift that he had and there’s not a lot of artists
that have done that before or since then. My mom is a Reggae singer, so I was
always around music; I love what she did. When Michael released the song “Remember
The Time,” that’s when I really started to like music. Until this day that’s my
favorite song just because of the feeling it gave me.
That song is responsible for me wanting to make music. That
song made me want to give people the feeling that I felt when I heard that
song. It had loads of feeling; it had loads of emotion. When he sang he could
make you believe anything, since he was a young boy. Like in “Who’s Loving
You,” he was like eight! How can an eight year-old make you believe that he’s
missing someone, you know? That gift that he had from a very young age and I
believe that was the reason why he touched so many people, because he could
make you believe anything he said in a song.
AHHA: For the most part this is a difficult industry to get in. How did you
get your start?
Nathan: Since my mom
was a singer, she was always performing, so I would love to go on stage and do
what my mom did. I was always performing from a very young age. I used to live
in Jamaica and New York as well. When I moved to the UK, I used to enter
competitions doing what ever I could, dancing, singing, acting and everything.
When I was 13, I entered a competition and the prize was to win 1,000 pounds
and record your own songs. You got to perform in front of 3,000 people, so I
entered it and I sang my favorite song at the time Musiq’s [Soulchild] “Just
I did well and I loved performing in front of people. I
didn’t win that year though, so the next year I wanted to enter again and they
called me and said you were really good last year so come back. So I performed
“You Got It Bad” by Usher, which was my favorite song at that time. I ended up
winning and recorded a song called “What’s Ur Name,” which got radio play and
the rest is history.
AHHA: So “What’s Ur Name” was the first song that you
ever wrote? That’s pretty big for your first written song to jump off like
that! What was the inspiration for the song?
Nathan: Yes, that
was the first song that I ever wrote. I eventually re-produced it and it went
on my first album that came out in the UK called Masterpiece. So
it has really done well for me. For it to get radio play and then to end up on
my album; it was a real achievement for me
I remember I was in my bedroom after I had one the competition
and I thought to myself that I should write this song because I have to have
studio time soon. I was thinking about Musiq, that type of feel and it didn’t
come out sounding anything like a Musiq song. That was really my inspiration,
but it came out feeling totally different
AHHA: Since your mother is a Reggae singer how does that factor into your
music? In addition, how does your culture factor in?
Nathan: The one way
I would describe my style is international because I have lived in Jamaica, America
and the UK. There are so many different music elements that you listen to
throughout all of those places. That’s what I really like and what sets me
apart. I want to be different! I want to have an international sound that no
one else is going to have, influences from Reggae and Hip-Hop. Being from the
UK, our boundaries are really kind of blurry, so we mix things a lot. We mix
the Euro-Pop, Techno and Hip-Hop.
AHHA: As a singer- songwriter, who are some other
singer-songwriter’s that you admire?
Nathan: There are a
lot of people that I really admire, definitely Ne-Yo because being a he’s had a
few songs that I thought were written perfectly like “So Sick” and
“Irreplaceable” for Beyoncé. Currently, I’m feeling The Dream as well. These
guys Claude Kelly and James Fauntleroy are also dope writers. For me,
singer-songwriter wise the two people that I really admire from recent times
are definitely Michael Jackson and R. Kelly.
The reason I picked those two is because in contrast to all
of the others, they were able to have success writing songs that were
different, not just the same type of songs. That’s what is really creative, to
make a hit like “I Believe I Can Fly” and then “Snake.” To me diversity is the
key; I’m a big fan of diversity and versatility. That’s the type of artist that
I want to be. To have a song that’s influenced by Hip-Hop, Reggae, and R&B,
but all of them are hits. All of them have a common thread itself like the way
I deliver it, because that’s what all of my favorite artists did.
AHHA: What are some things that influence your writing?
Nathan: With me, I
definitely don’t have a routine when I’m writing songs; I just like to let it
flow. There are a couple of things that I use, my mother is an actress now so
she taught me a lot; I went to drama school and everything like that. One thing
I learned to do when I’m writing songs is put myself in someone else’s position
and kind of make a movie. Then write a song from a movie standpoint.
Like create a character, create a situation, put yourself in
that situation, put yourself in that character’s shoes and then write a song
about it! It’s very artistic, you find yourself thinking of things and
challenging yourself. So that’s something that I’ve done on quite a few
occasions. A lot of the times I just feel the music and what does it make me
feel, for me that’s the best way to invoke feeling. People like Marvin Gaye and
Michael Jackson were the kings of making people feel what they were saying. So
the music itself has a large part to do with that.
AHHA: I must say I love your track “Cold As Ice”
partially because my nickname is Ice [laughs]. How did you hook up with Rick
Nathan: So I
actually made the original version in London. I flew over to Miami to work with
Salaam Remi on the first album and that was surreal. We were doing the “Cold As
Ice” remix and he was like I want a rapper on here. He asked me what rapper did
I want and I said Rick Ross. He came to the studio, heard the beat and went
crazy. He laid his verse in like five minutes and his verse is dope too!
AHHA: What are you working on currently?
working on the album right now. I’m having fun because this is the second time
I’ve made an album and this time I really know what I want. This time I know
what type of songs I want to make, I know what type of sound I want to go for.
Very international, I want all of my influences to come out. It’s going well,
its really rewarding when you go into the studio with a goal and then you
AHHA: So let’s say you had to assemble a team, you need a
producer, a female singer and a rapper. Who would your team consist of and why?
Nathan: That’s a
dope question! I love people that can play a bunch of instruments, so I
actually think my producer would be Ryan Leslie. I definitely think he’s a
genius; all you have to do is watch him work. The rapper would be Graph, he’s
definitely underrated. I’ve wanted to do a song with Graph for a long time, so
hopefully we can make that happen.
I’m trying to think of someone who might be the new Beyonce,
but really, she just shut that whole spot down. Looking at artists and their
career, she’s the most current template of what I would want to do. Just like,
I was saying about Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson and R. Kelly. If you listen to
the songs off her current album from “If I were A Boy,” “Single Ladies,” Diva,”
to “Ego” look at how different they are and she’s the common thread. Beyoncé’s
definitely winning, so that would be my team!
AHHA: Lastly, where do you see yourself ten years from
Nathan: To me sky’s
the limit and there’s not point in dreaming if you’re not going to dream big. I’ve
always grown up believing that you can do anything that you want to do. In ten
years time, I want to be an established artist. One of the best
singer-songwriters that can just take a break and come back when ever they
want. I’m into fashion, so I want to have a clothing label, I want to set up my
own record company, my own studio, and I definitely want to be in film. That’s
not it because I want to do loads more, but that’s like a summary.