One of my many Scarborough blessings is sharing a beautiful home with the Maingards – who have begun to feel like family and to whom I’m truly appreciative of for their gentle wisdom and encyclopedic musical knowledge. For me, who loves indie/folk singer-songwriters, it’s a rare privilege to find myself living with two!
And after another fabulous winter gig at Pincushion Cottage (we’re just not going to mention the red wine war I waged later), I’d like to introduce you to Nate. He pretty much grew up with music in his blood: his dad, Marc, renowned singer-songwriter and master luthier whose magnificent guitars have been played by the likes of Stephen Stills (he of Crosby Stills & Nash fame). Nate began playing guitar when he was 14 years old (which proves high school music lessons can be constructive for something other than child torture – my relationship with the recorder and/or triangle was not a happy one). Sitting at break one day, his best friend Heyn Andrag began strumming a tune and Nate thought: “Hey! I’ve got a poem that would go with that…” So they tried it, and it worked! He and Heyn were inseparable: writing, playing and collaborating in every spare moment. Soon Nate was opening for his dad (at big time festivals such as Up The Creek and Barleycorn) but he didn’t think it was something which he could turn into a career. At the time, it was just a way to have fun, feel better, fit in: like most teenagers he thought playing music would make him ‘cool’. But the themes of his songs were (and still are) of a deeper, questioning nature, revealing the path of a passionate seeker.
Nate admits it’s required much internal work to take the proverbial leap of faith and follow his dream: like many of us, he is wary of fame, suspicious of success and mistrustful of leading a life in the public eye. However, the tipping point was reached when he realized that “the music is not about ‘me’ but a platform from which to share my truth with a wider audience.” His song ‘Slow It Down’ encapsulates this message beautifully where he begins by reminding us that ‘the world has spun too fast, left us all behind on this ship without a mast’ and begs someone to ‘please, slow it down…’
True to this sentiment and powered by his love of music and innate generosity, the vision for Pincushion Cottage was born. This intimate space, located in his father’s home in Scarborough is a magical venue where musicians can spread their wings. After running a successful open mic at inSpiral Lounge, London, Nate came home with the desire to assist other musicians find their voice in a warm, gentle, more ‘slow’ environment. Here, where the line between audience and performer is blurred, strangers feel like friends and the whole evening is an altogether more ‘authentic’ experience. Having attended all three concerts this season (one of the many perks of living on the property), I can attest to its success and highly recommend coming through for this unique music event. If you get here early enough, you can stroll on the breathtaking beach before your heart is captured beneath a skyful of stars.
At the same time as he’s been creating opportunities for other musicians, he’s also managed to record a solo album (and this, ladies and gentleman, has all happened within the last month I’ve been living here: whew!). The story is quite magical. Nate knew he’d only manage to create an album if he committed to music – which meant taking a step into the unknown, quitting his job and letting go the gilded trappings of security: a company car, desk and dependable salary. Which he did. And, as often happens when one steps out in faith, a path began to emerge… Close friend Hanli Prinsloo passed a few rough tracks to Iain Evans (of theBOMBsurf) who offered to arrange a series of gigs for Nate in Durban. Iain then introduced him to Gumby and next thing Nate was on his way to Eastwind Studios in Cape St Francis to record an EP. Fortuitously, the synergy of the studio space, flow and dynamic between Nate and Gumby resulted in several songs being recorded in single takes. And voilà(!): they had a full album! Gumby then arranged for Darren Peens to do the mixing and mastering – and Nate was introduced to lovely muso duo, DieselVanilla (Darren and Rouchelle Hubsch - who played to a full house here on Friday). Darren added Rouchelle’s enchanting voice as backing vocals to ‘Slow It Down’ and with that, Nate’s album developed another evanescent angle.
Even the cover art evolved organically: friend Tasmin Lutge visited one day and was doodling on a piece of paper. Nate said: “Wow that’s awesome! If I record an album one day, I’d love you to design a cover for me.” So when he decided to record the EP, he asked Tasmin if she would design something using the concept of negative space and incorporating various meaningful symbols. Only too happy to help her friend, she created the enchanting cover and back insert. Friends are incredibly important to Nate (you can see why) and he celebrates this love in the track ‘Untitled Humming’ (and his love for surfing. C’mon, you would’ve guessed he’s a surfer, dude…)
‘The Wild Land’ is the haunting title track from this magical first album set to be released in Cape Town at the end of June, after Nate’s Durban tour. Watch this space for details! To listen to this track (and order the album – I have!), click here. For those back in my old home town, I urge you to check out this rising South African star at the following venues:
Thurs 02/06: Wholefood Night Market at the Point (5-10pm)
Fri 03/06: Bean Green Coffee Roastery, 147 Helen Joseph (Davenport) Rd (7pm)
Sat 04/06: i heart market, DLI Hall, 5 DLI Avenue (8.30am – 2pm)
Sun 05/06: Jilera, 101 Innes Rd, Morningside, Durban. Open Mic, (4 – 8pm)
Mon 06/06: La Bella, 199 Essenwood Road, Musgrave.
Thurs 09/06: Cake or Death at Unit 11, off 190 Stamford Hill Rd (From 7pm)
Fri 10/06: Amsterdam, 143 Helen Joseph (Davenport) Road, Glenwood. 8pm.
For the Cape Town crew, you can see Nate next on June 12th at The Alma Cafe where he’ll be opening for his dad. To book call 021 685-7377. And he’ll also open for local group, Andrew James at the Pincushion Cottage on June 12th. Email Nate to book. See you there!
image: Fiona Hare
Visit her blog the nu-folk scene