By Jake Paterson, Music Editor
Nate Brazier's sound rises from murky and dark depths – think dimly-lit basements and cityscapes – towards a progressive space where the stylistic intersection of r&b and electronica allows him to muse deftly on identity. His tracks feel hand-crafted and true, whilst centring on a collaborative process that makes them feel less DIY and more turntable ready.
Dropping his debut single ‘Patterns’ whilst studying English here at Bristol, he caught a wave and blew up in underground circles almost overnight. His debut EP, YSK, was a thought-piece on adolescence, where beat-up car radios and houseparties were the spaces the tracks inhabited. The atmosphere was of something covert and in-the-know transposed with melodic phrases that wouldn't be amiss on a pop record. It continues to defy categorisation, and has had many fans suggesting that they haven't been as excited for a new artist since James Blake dropped his CYMK EP.
Nothing Sacred, his latest project, tilts towards both refinement and expansion. As an artist he seems more at home in himself and his songwriting, and has his sights set on larger crowds. There’s a clear rejection of an inherited moral compass, and instead a progression towards reinvention and fluidity.
"We’re taught from a young age to follow the precedent or status quo, whether in our life choices or how we show up in society, even if that means masking our truth or not finding it in the first place," Nate tells me when we discuss his new track ‘Putting On Airs’. "Often, the staying true to myself comes from not shying away from those ambitions and being unashamedly myself in my career."
"I’ve always been inspired by the way that Janet Mock says ‘we need to make ourselves,’ and I think finding our tribe is a huge part of that. I’ve always been a fan of coming-of-age music like Lorde’s Pure Heroin or Princess Nokia’s 1992, where the theme of chosen family is central."
"Hold it down around the grounds of foes / When all the hounds of hell in my head are home / Fought our ground and found our cornerstones", Nate sings on the EP's standout track 'Episode'. With a strange and haunting quality, the track is suggests that testing boundaries allows your artistic development to thrive.
Nate had been sitting on many of the tracks for his debut YSK, such as the title track featuring Louis Culture, for years before they came out. Making the first step towards releasing them wasn't necessarily an easy process. "I know how hard it can be to take the leap and start putting music out into the world, because in a way that confines the music to reality and limits all the potential of what it could become," he said. "I always used to wish I was more in-the-know with industry people, but it’s been crazy to learn that once certain songs gain momentum, everything falls into place. My A&R at Parlophone was into my first song ‘Patterns’ and everything snowballed from there."
"But, without sounding super cliche, you have to start somewhere. So whether that’s with snippets on Tiktok or Instagram or Soundcloud or somewhere else, start dropping the tunes! It’s so frustrating that as small artists we have to simultaneously be influencers, but just try to make notes from what other people are doing then make it your own."
James Blake recently responded to one of Nate's TikToks suggesting that writing one song that connects with the widest audience is usually the one that resonates the most emotionally with you, and not the one you put together because your label suggests you need to have a big song. "I had been using that TikTok hook mainly to get some traction on the algorithm and then when he responded to the video I was like ‘damn… I’m coming off mad shallow'," Nate jokes.
"But he was very gracious and I obviously share his view that music needs to be created without too much thought to reception."
The visual world of Nate's music is an essential part of the atmosphere and communication of his tracks. Working with Arran Ashan to create a film accompaniment for YSK went deep into the spaces that inspired the EP. A nostalgic glow embeds itself into nightlife scenes where there is as much life in an off-licence and dive bar as there is in a nightclub.
Nate cites Veneda Carter, Always Do What You Should Do, Mowalola and Heaven as his current fashion inspirations, and used inspo from A$AP Ferg's 'Floor Seats' video alongside Sampha's 'Process' film to shoot the video for his single 'Teasing the Thread' in an old church in East London. The visual product is almost as rewarding as the sonic one, and Nate brandishes his collaborators and inspirations with pride at every given opportunity.
To create Nothing Sacred, Nate worked with producers Tev'n and Maverick Sabre to push his sound into new territories. "I’ve worked with Tev’n a lot over the years - he’s always great at pulling ideas out of me and pushing them as far as they can go. I’d started working with Mav more recently, he’s a seasoned pro at toplining and definitely helped me move out of my melodic comfort circle."
In another move out of his comfort space, Nate has also announced his first ever live show. After testing the waters with a 'house party' in London for the drop of YSK, he is set to take his tracks into a live environment in October this year.
"We’re getting really creative with how we communicate the mood of the music. Although a lot of the music is quite electronic, we’ve put together a live band so that we can play as much of it live in the room as possible. The YSK house party was a cool experience getting to see people who liked the music irl, and I’m just excited to do that again."
Given that Nate hosted a hip-hop show on BURST radio last year I close with a simple question: soundtrack to a perfect night out and a night in. "For a night out it would have to be ‘home’ by Two Shell and for a night in, ‘Send It On’ by D’Angelo."
Nothing Sacred is out now.
Nate Brazier plays the Pickle Factory, London, October 17.
Featured Image: 'Nothing Sacred' Cover, Parlophone
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