IT has been a while since I have featured any artists with…
Mexican heritage. Nath Bravo is, perhaps, the second musician to hail from that nation (I have featured). She talks to me about her time in London and whether residency is a long-term possibility; if her hometown has/had a great music scene; which new artists are striking her heart – and whether we can see her tour over here.
She discusses her current single, Shadowman, and whether more material is due; what her fondest memories in music are; the three albums that mean the most to her – some useful advice for artists coming through at the moment.
Hi, Nath. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! I’m fine, thanks. It’s been all good.
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
Well. My name is Nath Bravo. I’m twenty-one-year-old and I make music. I’m originally from Mexico but I just moved to London a couple of months ago to promote and perform my music - which is basically the result of a bunch of influences I’ve got; from genres such as Jazz, Blues; Rock and Alternative.
Talk to me about Shadowman (released last November). What is the inspiration behind the song?
Well. For this song; I did have a particular subject in my mind to be portrayed: fear. It was mainly based on the way I was feeling while going through some scary times in my life - in which I just couldn't find a scape. I kind of just faced it the only way I knew: making music. It’s a tribute, I think, because I know we’ve all gone through that specific state of feeling trapped in some sort of mindset. I brought fear to life as a character I named ‘Shadowman’ - and I’m just trying to describe the way I see/feel/experience fear most of the times.
Will there be any new material coming this year?
Hopefully, yes. I do have new songs and I’m constantly writing. So; if everything works out the way I’d like to…yes, that’d be fantastic.
You were born in a small town in Mexico. What was it like growing up there? Was there any sense of a music scene at all?
It was quiet. I didn’t have many friends as a kid. I think I was a bit scared of people…
But; I do have a really loving family, so we’d spend all of our holidays together - sometimes at home, traveling somewhere or just hanging out with all of my cousins and relatives. There wasn’t a lot to do - but enough for me to collect many beautiful memories that still make me happy. My parents are photographers so I’ve always been related to art. My mom also loved singing when she was a young woman - but I think I got into music by myself. There isn’t a lot of a ‘music scene’ in my city: only small contests I always joined (and choirs etc.)…but not a lot.
Mexico has so much to offer and a lot of beautiful music - but finding the right places for you as an artist is sometimes hard if you live in a small town.
Do you spend a lot of time in Mexico? What is the music culture like in the country?
Yes. That’s where my home is; the place I always go to after traveling. The music culture is really different. I think there are many great artists in my country, and our ‘classics’ have turned into some sort of anthem for us. It’s diverse, rich; colorful, interesting. I love boleros and mariachi whenever I listen to them…I just go back in time.
There’s also Rock, Pop; Jazz and more international things as well - it’s diverse if you know how to find it.
It seems like music came into your life early. What made you take up performance and songwriting? Which artists inspired you to write your own material?
As soon as my parents realized I could sing; they’d always encourage me to do it - so I just started loving it more than anything else. I took some piano lessons for a few years but then quit because that training wasn’t for me. When I was thirteen; I started to take my singing as a serious thing: I self-taught (myself) to play the piano and, eventually, started writing my own songs.
I have to say that one of the main reasons I started to write music was: Jazz. Nina Simone was the first approach I had to songwriting as something beyond my own singing. It was all about having that fire in your stomach that comes when you are completely lost in music. I just fell in love with it…the process; the beauty of free expression, freedom itself… it’s all pure magic.
She’s one of my biggest inspirations of all time.
How have you found the audiences in London? What has it been like performing in the capital?
Wonderful. I’ve loved it.
This is my second time in the capital and I have to say that there’s something so great about audiences in London: they listen. They accept new ideas, sound and projects.
Do you think you’ll stay in the U.K.? Is it somewhere you feel connected to?
I wish I could: I’d love to stay. I’ve felt really connected to Camden, here in London. I just love its diversity, the vibe and how cool it feels to be around in a really vibrating, colorful place.
IN THIS PHOTO: Tash Sultana
If you had the chance to select the three albums that mean the most to you – which would they be and why?
Live at Wembley '86 – Queen
It’s Queen, that’s why. I mean; whenever I feel like I can’t handle music, problems or life in general; this album would just bring my broken-self into one piece again. It’s just the most amazing thing ever. Such an amazing live performance: so energetic, filled with the purest passion…I’m a huge fan. So, this is like liquid-gold for me.
Hozier - Hozier
This man is amazing. I (just) love the sound, his songs. I remember I’d listen to this album over and over again every day for a while. I was sometimes struggling with my own music; so this album helped me to remember that I always have to trust myself and my instinct as a musician. It means a lot; maybe because I listened to it at the right time.
Themes from Calmi Cuori Appassionati (soundtrack) – Enya
My parents are photographers so, when I was a kid, they used to go all around the country and the States to do workshops - and I used to go with then every time I could. They’d make these videos with all of their best photographs - and used Enya’s album as the soundtrack. So; it brings me to a really melancholic memory of my childhood.
Is there any advice you would give to fellow artists coming through right now?
Be patient, be true to yourself; work hard, don’t overthink - and enjoy the ride. There are more people going through the same thing as you - so don’t worry too much and don’t be scared to ask for advice/help.
What other gigs do you have coming up as we head through 2018?
The closest date is on January 17th here in London. The night is called The Round and I’m gonna be talking about my songs, too. Gonna be cool.
More gigs will be announced on my social media, as well.
Looking back; what have been your fondest memories of your time in music?
I have many…
One of them is from two-and-a-half years ago. I was at this big event; it was a national competition for songwriters organized by the University where I was at that moment. I remember being surrounded by so many talented people all playing some great things with a full band - and I was so scared cause I was going to be performing a song I wrote all by myself with only my piano, so…
It was almost time for me to go on stage and I still remember I just took my earphones and went backstage to lie down on the floor. I played Why? (The King of Love Is Dead) by Nina Simone; because it was the only way I could stay calm. I literally didn't take the earphones off until I was seated in front of the piano - with all of those faces staring at me. I was stunned, in shock and I just started playing.
That night, I became the national winner (after being so scared and without even expecting something back from the whole thing). It was surreal, inspiring. I think it was since that day that I decided I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. I’ve met so many amazing people on this journey and have also faced music itself in so many different way…
I wish I could tell you all of them.
Do you have any ambitions of resolutions for this year at all?
I always do but, first of all; I’m gonna keep on promoting my E.P. and, later on; I really want to work on the latest songs I’ve written. I’m gonna keep on working and playing and, hopefully, finding the right places and people to work with.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Excuse Me - Nothing But Thieves...or Sirens – Fleurie
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