Nate B. Wants to See You Naked
Experimental, invigorating, there's a tangible sense of exploration that shapes Nate's distinctive, stimulating sound. You can feel the soul in his music, with mellow grooves and hazy vocals— his tracks transport you somehwere blissful, blinding. Before you know it they're deep inside, and you're humming his melodies all day.
As fans of his work— which spans from photography, to his pursuits in music— we were happy to have the opportunity to chat with the brooklyn-based creative. We sat down with Nate in his bedroom, and spoke about self acceptance, falling in love, and the beauty of simplicity.
So you make photographs as well right? Did you go to school for that?
Yeah, I’m a photographer as well. I went to Montclair State University.
How was that?
It was kind of the same as all art programs, a lot of people care about it but I think a lot of the time when people go to school for art they’re there for so long that when they graduate they go “well what do I do now?” A lot of people just can’t make work without assignments.
Wait, I heard you just shot a Fader cover! Congrats!
Thanks! I’m so stoked! This has been one of my dreams since I was 14 years old.
That’s sick. How long have you been making music?
For about a year and a half. I learned how to play guitar when I was around 13 from my uncles and dad, at parties they would always whip out the guitar. So I figured why not try it? I played music for a really long time but I never made my own. I got really good at playing because in high school some of my friends were apart of this church band and they were crazy musicians so I would play with them and learn a lot
I didn’t really think about music too much after that because I started photographing but it has always been in the back of my head.
Another reason I started to make music was because of this rapper named Moruf, I was and am a huge fan. We met a while ago and I shot photos of him and we just became really good friends. If I had to name five major things that made me start to make music it would have to be my roommate, some of my soundcloud friends in Toronto, my friend Moruf, and the homies Charlotte and James Tillman.
I think it interesting how you can jump between two mediums and be amazing at both of them. Is your creative process for the both of them similar?
Thank you! For me I think it’s just important that I’m always doing something creative. So if I’m not doing one of them then I’m doing the other. It’s a completely different process just because when I’m photographing I know what I want things to look like and technically I know what to do. But when it comes to music I don’t really know how to do a lot of things and it’s really fun not knowing how things are going to turn out. I’m still learning so much and sometimes I’ll try to achieve a certain sound only to end up making something completely different but I’ll be like oh shit this sounds amazing too. So with music a lot of it is experimenting and it’s not that I’m done experimenting with photography, I just know too much about what I want.
You just have complete control when it comes to photography so it becomes a little difficult when you get stuck in your ways.
My roommate is a musician and actually taught me everything I know when it comes to music programs like Ableton. He's super supportive as well, he always wants to listen to whatever new thing I’m making and will help my out when I need to come up with lyrics. I also photograph a lot of musicians and it’s interesting when I tell them that I make music because it opens up a greater conversation. I tend to learn a lot about music through them and just speaking to them about their process. Also, shooting musicians has made me realize that a lot of the artists that I adore are just regular people.
I started making beats like three years ago and songs a year ago.
Do you usually make all of your music in your room?
Yeah, I would like to start going to studios though.
I like that about your sound though - It has this lo-fi feeling to it. I actually don’t even know where to put you sonically. What genre would you put yourself in?
It’s definitely rooted in R&B because I grew up listening to that. As cliché as it sounds I try to listen to as much music as I can. I’m always so blown away on how talented people are. Some of my heroes are Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and Little Beaver. Pharrell, J Dilla, are some influences as well, Common as well…actually if I could have any rap feature it’ll probably be Common because he pretty much sounds good on anything. Lyrically, I love Frank Ocean but mostly because I don’t think I’m too great of a songwriter.
I’m always so blown away on how poetic people can be with words. My words and concepts are so simple right now
But there’s beauty in simplicity
Yeah, so true! I just listen to guys like Frank and Sampha and am completely mesmerized on how they even came up with some of the things that they say. My lyrics are just a little more direct.
I think you just have to give some time! You shouldn’t pressure it just have fun. I feel like when things become forced they tend to lose their joy and become mundane.
I put out a small project like a year ago and quickly deleted it because it wasn’t really what I wanted. So I’ve been working on this new project for about a year and a half now, it’s going to be a 10-song project and a lot of the songs are about 70% done. For a while I just wanted to be the star of every track but then I started to think-what if I had songs that I produced and I was just in the background and had someone else take the reins.
With your music, there’s something about the way it feels - it evokes certain emotions. For example when you split a song in half and the second half of the song will change my entire mood.
You seem to make a lot of music on love. Are you in a relationship?
Yeah, I’m a simp [chuckles]. I have a girl – she’s my sunflower. I’ve actually never been single for too long. I started dating my current girlfriend two years ago she’s cool as fuck.
Love is just such a universal feeling and I really like songs that I can relate to. Not to say that I treat love like a factory thing where I can just pump out love songs but there’s something about it that makes it easy to write about for me. Another thing that I write about is self-acceptance because I’m not the most confident person in the world. Sometimes I just write and make songs about anything like I made a song about my favorite Polo Hat. My family is usually the subject matter of a lot of my photography, so with music I just get them to draw all of my cover art. My brother and sister have drawn the covers of my singles.
When are you going to release this new project?
I have no clue yet but I’m not going to rush it. But it ties into self-acceptance because I’m trying to get to that point where I’m okay with everything; everyone is always his or her own worst critic. I’m coming out with music videos too! I just don’t want to box myself in with things that I can do. I also want to just represent people that look like me; you don’t see too many Asian American guys making R&B
I heard your song in that illegal civilization thing as well! How did that even happen?
Mikey just stared following me on Instagram, which I was stoked on. Then he just hit me up and just asked me to use my music.
I’m just always grateful for anyone that takes the time out to listen to my music. When someone shows some curiosity in your work, it’s an awesome feeling. I preformed my first show in August at this gallery and the amount of people that showed up was unexpected. It just made me want to make more music for everyone.