Nathaniel Noton-Freeman
09 Sep. 2014

Nathaniel Noton-Freeman


Bio: I was born in the middle of the Maine woods without electricity or running water. Music was a huge part of my life from infancy, and it only seemed natural that I spent my time in college studying it. I released my first album, “Whorl”, at about the time that I graduated in early 2012, and I’ve released three albums since then. My most recent, “Cloud Machines”, is a reactive piece of music that loosely addresses many of my feelings about climate change and current events.

Genre: Genre is a sort of sticky word with me, actually. I find that I really don’t fit any kind of genre label; I get called post-rock sometimes, but my music isn’t rock, and I get called ambient sometimes, but my music definitely isn’t just ambient. I generally describe my music to people instead of giving it a label: I typically say that I play acoustic and electric guitars, often fingerstyle, through a loop pedal and sometimes a bunch of effects. It’s a mouthful, but it’s generally the best I can do.

Evolution of the initial musical and thematic elements: My sound has changed greatly over the course of my four albums. “Whorl” (2012) was a massive cathartic release, and was generally cheerful and energetic, likely because I’d finally figured out how to record good sounding audio. That album feels extremely unrestrained. “Seabirds” (2013) was effects heavy and quite a bit more exploratory, and “Dream” (2013) was based on solo acoustic guitar pieces that I’d written over the past few years. I find that my songwriting style varies greatly when I write the songs as I record them or write them on a single guitar. “Cloud Machines” (2014) is a massively different piece of music – much more contemplative, atmospheric, and a bit slower. I’ve learned a lot from my previous releases, and this one was a chance to exercise any compositional maturity that I’d gained in the past few years. I think it’s also the first album that I started working on where I had a pretty clear vision of what I wanted to accomplish.

Lyrics, themes and concepts: I think about a lot of things, including but not limited to: Clouds, nature, climate change, insects, and current events. I’m certain that a lot of these themes are related to the circumstances that surround my upbringing in the Maine woods. Their influence on my writing process is a bit more intangible, especially because everything is instrumental. It’s just a general feeling that I have that I hold with me while I write something, or a feeling that I apply to the music after I’ve written it. Song titles are pretty important, because they’re the only thing that really cues the listener into what I was thinking when I wrote the track.

Ideas about the album: I’m very happy with my product. I think there’s always something to improve, and I’m sure I’ll figure exactly what that is when I start recording album #5. Every album seems to be reactionary to my previous releases.

Reception: Awesome. People keep saying incredibly nice things about Cloud Machines, and I never cease to be flattered and amazed.

Preference; live or studio: Oh man, I love both. I really like making products, but I also really love playing in front of people. And you can’t sell CDs without an audience!

Next step; live or studio: I actually have a tour planned that starts today (Aug 22nd) and goes until the last day of the month. I’ve also got a large string of dates in October and a bunch of other stuff coming up. Dates are as follows:

8/22 – Acoustic Java, Worcester MA

8/23 – The Tavern At Chapman Cottage, York ME
8/24 – The Red Door, Portsmouth NH
8/27 – NU Café, Worcester MA
8/28 – The Bee’s Knees in Morrisville, Vermont
8/29 – Bagitos Bagel & Burrito Cafe, Montpelier VT
8/30 – Tea Lounge, Brooklyn NY
8/31 – Nick’s Worcester, Worcester MA

Future plans: Lots of stuff. New projects include beefing up my YouTube channel, way more gigs, and some collaborations with other musician friends. I’ll be remixing a Pray for Sound track for their upcoming vinyl release of Dreamer!

Composers: I do everything myself (album artwork included)! I really like playing with people, but I find that when I’m the only person involved with my writing process, I’m a lot less restrained and can work at my own pace. I like being solely accountable for my music.

Inspirations:I love Boards of Canada, Tycho, Godspeed, Kayo Dot, Com Truise, Bill Frisell, John Adams (composer), Miles Davis, and a million other things. I actually listen to a ton of metal too, like Meshuggah, TDTE, Cryptopsy, and Cattle Decapitation. There obviously isn’t much distortion in my music, but I think I borrow how I think about rhythms from bands like then.

Preference; cater to the audience or music for its own sake: Honestly, to heck with the audience. I’m going to do whatever I want. I see so many bands that try to appeal to a certain group of people and never get anywhere anyway, so I might as well do exactly what I want to do. I’ll put a lot more effort into it that way, too.

Greatest Accomplishment: I’m not sure if there’s any single greatest one. Thus far it’s been a string of small accomplishments that keep improving my quality and enjoyment of life. I think my tour will be a huge accomplishment, though! Even with some help it still took a lot of work to book.

Anything else? Yes! You can follow my music at my site or get my music directly here.

Photography by Sarah Bilotta.

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