“A painter paints his picture on a canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. We provide the music, and you provide the silence.”
My phone vibrates in my pocket, alerting me to a received text. I open it to find it’s a video message from Nathanael. The freeze frame that appears before I push Play looks like something out of The Blair Witch Project.
He’s outside in the dark wearing Bose headphones, holding a boom pole, and I notice his own little sound station set up behind him.
Why am I not surprised?
Because this is his process. His mind works differently when it comes to music production; as if he see’s sound in every object and the combinations they make. Like a red haired cross between Batman and Daredevil.
I push play and the video starts out simple enough:
“Basically I needed some footsteps on wettish grass, and they’re kind of faster footsteps, so rather than find a sound file online, it was easier for me to record it myself.”
Cool, sounds good (Pun intended). It’s effective and you get to be creative in the process. Win, Win.
“So my setup tonight is, I’m outside, I got my computer and interface set up, but then I also have a microphone ready to go with some pre-wetted grass.”
And I’m bare foot to get the sound what I want.”
The camera pans down and now I’m a little disturbed.
“I also have a hose here if I need a wetter sound, but I have to be careful because I don’t want it to sound like I’m going through a puddle. I’ll have to match it up with the right consistency of wetness and what’s on the video. So, that’s what I’m gonna try to do now!”
I don’t get how he’s going to get this right, but that’s the cool thing about Nathanael. You’re confused while he works, and then the final product sounds awesome.
Put together an album of all his music and it would be called:
Musical MacGyver: Bet You Didn’t Hear That Coming
For the “Gresham is…” campaign, he approached it as a sound designer, not a musician. He didn’t strum the strings, he hit them like freaking August Rush! Covering the sound hole on his guitar, he played it like a drum, hitting it on different areas to create varied, rich sounds.
It’s like an album coming out that you aren’t sure you’ll enjoy, only to find yourself humming it. He’s more than happy to tell you how he did it, and even teach you in the process.
But sometimes, it’s better to just listen.