Interview conducted by our favourite four-to-the-floor expert, The Insider.
Mumbai-based musician, producer, and DJ, Nathan Thomas, aka Nate08, is about to release his brilliant debut album, Furaha. A highly sought-after session bass player, and genre-spanning selector, Nathan has become an irrepressible force in India’s blossoming underground music scene. His elegant, and amazingly mature / accomplished, productions are firmly rooted in dance music’s heritage and history, and blur the groovy boundaries between r&b, house, and funk. Here he talks about his musical journey, his love of the UK scene, and the work that went into this first long player, which lands next month on London label, NeedWant.
It’s great to talk to you Nathan. Where are you today and what are you up to?
Thanks for having me on board. I’m in Mumbai right now, and currently recovering from the weekend.
Were you born in Mumbai?
I was actually born in Bahrain. My parents were working there at the time. We moved back to India when I was 4, so I don’t really remember much from about Bahrain at all.
What was it like as a kid growing up in Mumbai?
I was exposed to a bunch of different music at home. My dad was a musician, so there was a lot of music from the `60s and `70s growing up at home.
What were your first exposures to dance music?
I started playing the bass guitar when I was around 14 with a bunch of different bands, and a few people I played with were also DJs / producers, so I was just subconsciously around electronic music growing up. My first proper experience would be Magnetic Fields, in 2017, where I saw acts like Four Tet, Machinedrum, and Teebs to name just a few.
Who were the artists you listened to in those early days?
I was actually listening to a bunch of boombap style hip hop in my early days, so artists like J Dilla, Madlib, Knxwledge, Mndsgn, etc.
How is the dance music scene in Mumbai?
The dance music scene in Mumbai is really popping right now. There’s everything from house, disco, and funk to leftfield stuff like breakbeats, jungle, and techno. My go to spots for a good party would be Antisocial and Club Pandora.
How did you first get into your current sound?
I was listening to a bunch of hip hop, but I also really enjoyed listening to dance music when I’d go out to parties. I didn’t really force anything musically, and just let it happen organically. I would say I was influenced by the sounds of Dilla, Madlib, Kaytranada, and D’angelo.
Were you into the UK sounds and scenes?
I’ve always loved sounds from the UK, and resonate deeply with the UK music scene. I’ve been following acts like Disclosure, Chaos In The CBD, Bradley Zero, Ross from Friends, Slowthai, etc.
What has your musical path so far been like?
I would say it’s been pretty organic. I haven’t really forced anything to happen in particular and I’m really grateful to have met the right people at the right time to be where I am today.
How did you hook up with NeedWant?
My demos for the album happened to reach them through a friend of a friend of a friend.
How long did the album take you to make?
I spent most of 2020 stuck in my house, during lockdown, making the record. I didn’t have any conscious plans to make an album or anything. I’d just wake up every day and make 2 or 3 rough sketches through the day. By the end of it I had a few good tunes to select from which made it to the album. I think Want You and Sunrise Sunfall were a couple of the early ones.
Did the tracks all fall in to place easily? Did some flow more than others?
I would say everything fell into place pretty easily, and it just felt right. I really didn’t want to force anything musically. So I just went with my gut and what made me feel good at that point.
On the album, you feature a lot of great talent from your scene. Tell us about a few of the people involved.
Everyone featured on the record are really good friends of mine, and I’m lucky to have them on the album. Apart from the vocal features I also have a few of my friends laying down some incredible instrumentation on the tracks. Ron Cha played piano and Rhodes on Bunker. Harsh Gadhvi played guitar on Furaha and Untitled. Siddharth Shankar played guitar on Cold Muse.
Is there a concept / a story to the album?
The album is definitely inspired by Mumbai and the nightlife culture over here in general, and just feels like a soundtrack to a weekend here in Mumbai.
The artwork is exceptional. Do you want to credit the artist here?
Shweta Sharma. Again, an incredibly talented human that I’m grateful to have worked with on this record.
(You can find more marvelous artwork by Shweta Sharma at The Floating Canvas Company).
What else are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently putting together a live set, with music from the album and a few other unreleased tunes.
Are there plans for you to tour?
Yes definitely. I’m super stoked to debut my live set with a full band at Magnetic Fields this year. Apart from that maybe a live tour post that, along with DJ sets as usual.
You seem to have come from nowhere, but your music is that of an older and deeply experienced soul. To what do you attribute this depth and texture?
That really means a lot, thank you, I appreciate it. I guess ever since I was little I would always hang out around people older than me, even musically I always found myself playing with people 10-15 years older than me. Them sharing their experiences and stories has me helped me approach things in a more mature way.
NATE08’s debut album, Furaha, is available to order, direct from NeedWant.