Interview: Natural Self
12th June 2013
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Nathaniel Pearn aka Natural Self recently dropped his brilliant and genre-defying latest album Neon Hurts My Eyes earlier this year. The National Student sat down with the producer, vocalist and DJ to discuss where his eclectic sound comes from... Here's a scenario, people don’t know who you are, how would you describe what your music sounds like? Well, really I would try not to. I know that’s not the answer you’re looking for. So you would just let the music speak for itself? Well, ideally, yeah. I don’t think it fits neatly into a genre, if it did at least that gets you off on some kind of start to describing what its like. If you tell someone ‘it’s not club music, its more downbeat, its vocal, its got synthesizers’ that could mean a hundred different things so I don’t even know how useful that is. I struggle when people ask me because, obviously when you meet people socially, they ask what you do and go ‘oh really, what kind of music do you make?’ and I’m like ‘ahh, actually, I don’t know, it’s difficult to describe’ so yeah, that’s a kind of non-answer. Your sound is very experimental; did you have a particular sound in mind when you first started making music? Did you know what you wanted to sound like? When I first started, I guess I did. I knew the way I wanted to make it, so I was really interested in sample based stuff and I was also interested in polyrhythmic music, so I wanted to do something beat and drum heavy and sample based. I didn’t want to do stuff with synths or live musicians when I first started. This is for the very first productions I did. I knew I would want to do those things later but I kinda wanted to encourage these restrictions on myself to form a discipline. Otherwise when you’re starting out the choices of all the different things that you could do, particualrly if you don’t want to work within an already established genre, it can be baffling. I kinda wanted to narrow what I might do in order to come up with something a bit stronger; then as I started it was my intention to gradually let go of those things and let other influences in and then just carry on from there, which is what I’ve been doing ever since. I try now to not be too self prescriptive of what I want to do. I do what I feel like doing and hopefully go with my instincts, and do what feels right, and what I think is good and hopefully that will come out. Do you prefer to do collaborations to solo work? Or are they just completely different? Well they’re different things so I guess the stats speak for themselves, 80% of what I’ve ever done has been on a solo basis so I guess I prefer working on my own, but that said, I’ve collaborated in various ways over time, sometimes with instrumentalists who come in and play on something I’ve been doing or it’s with a vocalist or it’s been whole producer, equal collaboration, or it’s been with me singing on someone elses stuff and I love all of that. I love working with people, I love that process and I love the new things that brings. It isn’t always easy. You have to have the right sort of chemistry with that person and that chemistry doesn’t always last forever. But yeah, I do like collaborating and I kind of intend to always intend to do a bit of that. You’ve been in the music industry for a long time since you started in 2000, do you have a favourite moment of your career? Erm, well, I dunno, there’s little things here and there. The first time I got back a finished copy of my first record, with it’s label and everything, that was a really good moment. Seeing it in reality and feeling that hopefully this is the start of something, that was good!
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