Images by Nathan Ball
British artist Nathan Ball is gaining much traction with the release of his new single “Blindside”. This is his first single release from his upcoming new album ‘Under the Mackerel Sky’ that will be released later this year. Throughout Ball’s career, he has received major positive recognition from The Independent, GQ, The Line of Best Fit, and more. He has also gained reoccurring support from radio promoters, Jo Wiley and Huw Stevens. Ball focuses on his captivating storytelling when creating his songs. These stories are often backed with synths and folksy surroundings to create his unique sound.
I had the chance to catch up with Nathan Ball and discuss his sound, musical inspirations, and his new song “Blindside”.
What was the moment you decided you wanted to pursue a career in music?
I can’t really remember a particular moment, I think it was as soon as I noticed people singing along to my songs at the shows, and to be honest people even turning up to shows in the first place! Getting to travel the world playing music is the greatest feeling in the world, so as soon as I got to start playing shows in Europe and further afield, I knew I wanted to keep doing it.
Who is your biggest musical inspiration and why?
The War On Drugs. They’re the greatest band in the world and I have a bit of an obsession with them! I can’t think how many times I’ve listened to their albums and I never tire of them and always find new little guitar lines or synth parts that sneak out with each listen. Their songs tug on the heartstrings whilst also making you want to rock at the same time.
How would you describe the journey to discovering your sound?
To be honest it’s been an ongoing journey that will continue to evolve. I’ve forever been influenced by a real variety of genres which I take little bits from and bring them to my own sound. I’ve always been a big house music fan and have had this vision of a sound that I’ve been trying to create within the space where electronic music and singer-songwriters meet. Blindside was the first example of that sound and a taster of what’s to come in the record.
What was the inspiration behind “Blindside”?
Blindside was written about a couple losing sight of each other within a relationship and chasing that connection that was once there. It was a song that lyrically and melodically poured out and we had a great time recording it. It was in the middle of the UK winter and we were hunkered down in this old chapel outside Bath, and I found the storms hammering on the windows really inspiring and I hear glimpses of that in the track whenever I listen to it.
Check out “Blindside” here:
How would you describe your songwriting process?
Having spoken to a lot of other songwriters it sounds like a pretty similar process to most. It usually just starts sat at a piano or guitar or a synth and I’ll just be playing around with a few chords and just start mumbling some stuff and see what comes out until a vocal melody sticks out. I’ll then just keep playing the loop over and over and record it and listen back to see if any lyrical ideas pop out. Then I’ll go away and write the lyrics whenever I’m feeling most inspired. It’s a strange little process that I find I can’t force; whenever I sit down with the intention of writing a song, nothing comes out, then other times I’ll get the urge to sit down with my guitar and a song will pour out in 10 minutes.
What is the story behind your most-streamed song “Drifting”?
Writing Drifting was the very first thing I did in 2017. I remember it was New Year’s Day and I was sat in Cornwall with the rain going mad outside and I just picked up a guitar and started playing it. I thought it might be another song at first as seemed to be writing itself as I was playing it! It was a really strange feeling, but I felt such an emotional connection to it, I remember having tears in my eyes as I wrote it. I’m really honored that song means so much to so many people around the world; I still get messages every day about it from people saying what it means to them and how it’s helped them get through something in their life and that’s what keeps me writing songs.
Check out “Drifting” here:
How has being based in the U.K. impacted your career and sound?
I get really influenced by the seasons and I love how in the UK we experience the seasons so intensely. I prefer writing in winter when you’re tucked away from the weather in a cozy little space and always find the music takes on a bit of those elements, whether it be a synth pad representing a certain mood or a cymbal reflecting a crashing wave against a cliff. The UK has such a rich culture in music. We’re exposed to so many different genres growing up, that has a huge impact on any artist’s sound. In one city in the same night, you could see drum n bass, an acoustic open mic, reggae, world music; the list goes on. I feel very lucky to be able to experience all these different sounds. Career wise; I feel like British music is a great export and often we’re welcomed with open arms across the channel in Europe which has been a great thing. I’ve always loved playing shows over there.
What can listeners look forward to in the near future?
My debut record! The last 10 months or so I’ve been writing and recording the record down here in Cornwall with my friend and producer Max Rad, and I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. I’m so proud of it and love every song on there, which is a great feeling and therefore felt like the perfect time to collect the songs as a body of work and release it as a record. The tracks are a real emotional rollercoaster, and I can’t wait for you all to listen!
Listen to “Blindside” here.