So quite often, people will email me about an artist that I “absolutely need to hear”. Some are… well, ok. Some are good. Some are great. And some are special. And if it wasn’t for the fans emailing me, I might have missed out and never heard these tunes.
So that’s the reason why I’m starting a new column today on this blog: “Under The Radar”.
“Under The Radar” is a column for those treasures that might have somehow passed unknown, were it not for the fans and their emails alerting me to their favourite artists. In other words… keep those emails coming!
Today, for the inaugeral column, we’ll be featuring the – quite frankly – fantastic Nathaniel Hoho.
Nathaniel Hoho (Image Credit: Rachel Leah)
Nathaniel Hoho is doing it the old-fashioned way, and paying his dues. Constantly gigging for pretty much two years now – packed in a tiny car with suitcases on the road – he’s spreading the good word about his tunes to anyone who will listen; and it’s obviously working, as evidenced by this post.
The first thing I noticed when I was exposed to Nathaniel’s music is the sheer versatility; not only as a songwriter, but also as a performer. As Nathaniel himself said:
“I’ve been playing music since I’ve been about 10 years old. As a musician I can always recreate who I am and how the world perceives me.”
Nathaniel has the type of voice that seems to be comfortable with whatever you can throw at it. Sometimes soft and tender; sometimes manic and desperate; there really is a strength to his voice that pulls you in and holds you. The songs themselves have a habit of sinking deep under your skin… the more you listen to them, the more they connect, slowly but surely becoming “must-haves” on your playlists.
I had some major troubles trying to decide on which songs of his to showcase in this post, as pretty much all of the ones I heard, I fell in love with. So eventually, I decided to settle on three songs; each very different in terms of style and feel, but with one common factor… they absolutely kickass. After getting in touch with Nathaniel, I asked him for a bit of a background on each of the songs…
Listen. Love. Support.
Nathaniel Hoho – Nightmares
The first song is Nathaniel’s “Nightmares”. Written in 2005, “Nightmares” has possibly my favourite progression of any of Nathaniel Hoho’s music that I’ve heard to date. I defy you to listen to this song and then not be humming that chorus later in the day. It truly is an infectious tune. In Nathaniel’s words:
Nightmares was written in 2005 . I lived with a photographer, screen writer and another musician at the time. People were always creating and the air was filled with inspiration and art. I couldn’t sleep so I rolled out of bed and started playing the progression on my guitar. I wrote down the first two verses and a chorus and went back to sleep. When I woke up i saw my note book lying beside me with the song written. I finished the song that day and it’s been a favorite of mine since […] That night I played it for a party of people. A cop showed up because the window was open. Everyone who was underage split. I was standing in the back letting the owner of the house resolve the issue… the officer said he wanted to talk to the kid that was playing the guitar… I walked out nervously. He
shook my hand and told me to keep up the good work that i had a great voice. Then he walked out the door and left. Talk about relief.
Listen: Nathaniel Hoho – Nightmares
Nathaniel Hoho & Rachel Leah – What’s On Your Mind?
Nathaniel Hoho and Rachel Leah
The second song, “What’s On Your Mind?”, is a duet with Rachel Leah. A sultry song that hearkens back to smoky jazz clubs – the kind where the barman knows your name and choice of poison – there is a chemistry in this song that is impossible to ignore.
The first time I heard the tune, I thought to myself that Nathaniel and Rachel must have some history, at least. Chemistry like that you simply can’t fake, no matter how good you are at performing. So it was a pleasant surprise to learn that I was actually right…
Aside from being an amazing songwriter Rachel Leah is also my girlfriend.
I had been playing the progression and humming the melody over and over in my head. I wanted the song to reflect the early 1900’s , I thought it would be cool to base the lyrics off of what could be a scene in Citizen Kane. It was perfect… Rachel and I could each sing and tell a story through hearing our banter, just like a scene in a movie. I told her the idea and she was really excited… a few weeks later we sat down and wrote the song straight through. A few weeks from that point we made a video. The song has yet to be offically released and may just remain a B-side. For now we the song and video are available at both her and my myspace.
I sincerely hope that “What’s On Your Mind” gets an official release one day. A song as hot as this one needs to be heard. Tell me that you aren’t snapping your fingers when you listen to this.
Listen: Nathaniel Hoho – What’s On Your Mind? (with Rachel Leah)
Nathaniel Hoho – Sir William
The third and final song is again completely different to the previous two. “Sir William”, penned in 2006, sounds like a track that would be comfortable on a Fall Out Boy or Panic at the Disco release. An angry song, it’s one that I really connect with. So what was it inspired by?
Sir William was written in the Summer of ’06. I had been playing in a band, and they kicked me out. I was fighting with my girlfriend. That’s where the first two verses came from.
“Alexiandra, Queen of Freedom play me your piano song.
Criminal Cravings Creeping Conniving to get whatever you want.
You’re such a pretty girl.”
… being my girlfriend troubles and then…
“Sell me sir William, you can use us we are all just thieves at heart.
I once was chasing, now you’re trailing me along side of your gentle knights .
You’re such a lazy boy.”
I lived with the guy ( sir william)… I was in the band with him and two other guys. I took the band really seriously and was pretty worked up when they threw me out. It was my way of saying, “You’ll regret this. I’ll show you I’m going to do more with my music.
The rest of the song is a reflection of me feeling like they did something wrong and that what comes around goes around. I kind of masked this with the metaphor of a king and queen who treated their people badly and were then taken over and justice was served. “Freedom is Free”
Listen: Nathaniel Hoho – Sir William
So, what’s the “Under The Radar” wrap-up then? Well…
There are times in this gig when I hear a cat’s music, and I just know he’s going to go places. I get that feeling about Nathaniel Hoho. There’s a sincerity to his tunes that you don’t often hear these days. While it’s still early days for him – and I have no doubt that he’ll only continue to grow – I have a feeling that there’s still potential unleashed here. I’m not sure that he’s quite reached “that point” yet… but he’s certainly well on his way.
So I have no doubt that his songs will be given major releases one day. Major releases. Until that time, however, I’m happy to keep spreading the word about him one-by-one, the old-fashioned way.
After all, that’s the way it should be. Nathaniel Hoho is paying his dues. And, let’s be honest…. One day I’m going to be able to look back at this post, and say, “I told you so”.
Nathaniel’s debut EP, “Wait Until The Story Ends” is now available (check out the link for a list of retailers, and don’t forget to hear and download more of his songs at his Myspace page), and he’s currently working on his full-length debut album. Needless to say, I’m definitely going to be waiting for that with much anticipation.