Nathan Down
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Nathan Down

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"Cutting Edge Music Festival"

Nathan Down - CEMF - August 1-3, 2009

Nathan Down
Since the release of his debut album Never Forget, Nathan Down, the solo artist from Toronto, Ontario, has been making a name for himself among critics like Alan Cross and George Stroumboulopoulos. Down tours with a backing band in order to make his songs come to life, but it’s his candid lyrics and the sincerity in his songwriting that drew a crowd at CEMF. Down was plagued with an incredibly early set time in the day, which is no easy slot to fill considering most fans are only there to see headlining acts that don’t appear onstage until well after the sun has set. Ultimately, it was Down’s straight-forward approach to his performance that reached out to the audience because he simply let his music do the talking.

It was easy to see that Down’s audience grew because of the honesty he put forward in his performance, avoiding gimmicks and remaining true to himself onstage. His straightforward approach to playing songs like “Ride Away” and “Justified” let the emotional impact of his songs reveal itself without assistance from pyrotechnics or crazy guitar solos. Down’s music completely spoke for itself and by the end of the set, he found a crowd that was listening to whatever he had to say. Down took some time to chat with Fazer about his debut record Never Forget and his plans for his upcoming tour in a one-on-one interview, so be sure to check that out on our website in the near future. - FAZER MUSIC MAGAZINE


An Interview with Nathan Down

In Person at Cutting Edge Music Festival

by Alex Young

During the wild experience that was the Cutting Edge Music Festival 2009, Fazer Magazine got a chance to chat with one of the festival’s up and coming Canadian singer/songwriters the day prior to his slot on the Budweiser Stage. Nathan Down, originally from Amherst Nova Scotia, migrated to Toronto in order to get his career off the ground. Down sat down to discuss the meaning behind some of his music, playing at CEMF 2009, and where he’s headed in the future.

Alex: Being a solo artist, and music being such an intimate experience for you since you’re doing everything from point A to point B, what is it like to hear people interpret your music in so many different ways, especially when the song might mean something so specific to you?

Nathan: It’s fine because I don’t tend to write in detail too specifically, it’s just a feeling I had at the time. Like the song “Since the Time I Met You” (off Down’s new LP Never Forget), everyone is going to think, “Is this about a girl?”, but it’s not. It’s about this dude that helped get the record going, found the investment money and had full confidence in me. He took me when I had no confidence in myself and almost quitting music for him to shake me and say, “I confide in you”. He’s a total fan, too. He loves the music. That song is all about me getting my confidence back, and this guy is like six foot four (inches), two hundred pounds. Everyone thinks this song is about a girl when really it’s about this guy. But it’s written in a way so that you can have your own experiences, it could be your best friend, or a girl, or whatever. I try to write in a way that allows it to be relatable to anyone and every line is about a specific thing I’m thinking about an experience, or a feeling.

Alex: Do you find it to be an inspirational experience to hear someone else talk about how they apply their own experiences? Like, “Wow, I had no idea my song could ever mean something to someone like that in that kind of context”.

Nathan: Oh yeah. I like it a lot. I guess because really, lyrics are the last thing I do, all of the music comes first, all of the guitar progressions, all the melodies and the lyrics is that last thing I do. I’m not a poet, I’m not an artsy guy, I play basketball and sports, but I love music too.

Alex: Well not everyone’s Bob Dylan.

Nathan: Yeah. I have to find lyrics that fit the subject matter that works with the feelings in the song. Coming up with guitar lines and melodies…I can do that for days, I’m really confident in how I do that, but lyrics can be tough. So when people relate to the lyrics in the songs and they sing along, it’s cooler than anything else because the lyrics can be the hardest part thing for me, it’s something that I am the least confident in as far as coming up with melodies and guitar lines. But now that I’m in that next phase of writing songs and lyrics, I’ll probably take more chances and be a little less safe.

Nathan Down at Cutting Edge Music Festival

Alex: Kind of fan yourself out a little bit? Once you initially break the ice, you open yourself up to take a few more risks. What are some of the risks you plan on taking on your next record?

Nathan: I don’t know. Maybe I will get more specific with what I’m talking about. The next phase of songs is going to be tough to find solid subject matter to talk about. I can’t write a bunch of songs that say the same thing with different titles, it’s easier to do and some people can do it, but how many love songs can one person write? But people do it constantly; I’m not trying to recreate the same subject matter. Even it is about a relationship, and usually my stuff is about those kinds of things, a friend relationship, a parent relationship, a girlfriend relationship. But I really try to find certain aspects about any of those kinds of relationships to write about.

Alex: Well to explore the dynamics within those connections.

Nathan: I may start stepping outside the relationship thing and I may start stepping into the social realm, I highly doubt I’ll step into the political realm, I don’t know. Those are some of the things I may do just so I can stop singing about relationships.

[We both laugh for a second]

Alex: More like observational-based stuff rather than an introspective thing.

Nathan: Yeah. I may write about something I haven’t necessarily been through myself.

Alex: What was it like for you starting as a solo artist and coming from that realm of being a solo singer/writer and morph into a full-on touring band?

Nathan: We’re just kind of here, we’re at Cutting Edge and I don’t even really have time to process it. Because we’re still in such a promotional and building phase that I hardly even have time to step back and enjoy how far we’re getting. Since we’re so strictly independent right now and we don’t have any big players, there’s people that have heard it (Both Alan Cross and George Stroumboulopoulos have sung Down praise) those are some of the good things that will help guide us to record labels. Just making the band bigger, making the band tighter and really kick ass. Now we’re just getting into the phase so we can put some money into marketing the album and start getting people to really hear it. Since none of that has really happened yet and as far as us playing this festival, we’re here because one of the promoters heard the record and saw us play and offered us a spot. Other than that we really don’t have any business being here.

[We both laugh again]

Alex: That’s awesome, for an unsigned artist that’s got to be huge. Just the fact that you guys aren’t signed to a label blows my mind.

Nathan: We lucked out on the production of the record and we got a great price and it just sounds awesome. Alan Cross from “The Ongoing History of New Music” says it’s prime for radio, and when a guy says something like that other people go and check it out. Right now I’ve got kind of an Epiphone (Gibson Guitar Company) endorsement deal, so they throw me a few guitars, snap a few pictures, toss us in interviews and stuff that gets us points. Plus free guitars.

Alex: Especially being an unsigned artist, that’s got to make touring a lot easier.

Nathan: That’s the stuff we have to go have to go to labels with after we record. I want to build as much value within our camp as much as possible so when we do build a relationship with a label we’ll be able to go down a better path together anyway.

Alex: After spending so much time, not just writing and crafting the album, but making it an album itself, on the flipside to that, how essential is the live performance to how the band functions?

Nathan: It’s everything. The record is one thing, there are layers and layers of stuff on the album, in some spots there’s nine layers of vocals. There are tons of guitars to get a really thick sounding record, but there are three of us on stage. For us, especially me, we have to pick the parts and play the ones that are going to make the songs come across the best possible way with just one guitar.

Alex: Yeah, exactly.

Nathan: So we have to take some stuff out because there are some lead guitar parts and other stuff that we just can’t replicate live. We’re not going to play with backing tracks, I’m an old school rock guy and I can’t do it like that. I love old school Metallica, and they don’t play to a backing track or a click track.

Alex: No way.

Nathan: No, they just go out and play. We use that to keep us in line, but it keeps us really focused on the songs we’re playing. It pretty much breaks it down to me play electric guitar the way I play acoustic guitar and insert bass and drums. When you’ll see the show tomorrow you’ll see that it’s different from the album, but at the same time we don’t have a bunch of other guitar players up there with us.

Alex: It’s got to be a pretty daunting task to re-arrange these well orchestrated songs to make them fit live and come across the same way they do on the album.

Nathan: Yeah.

Alex: But you’re getting a different approach, almost like you’re hearing the songs for the first time all over again for the audience.

Nathan: I used to stress a lot about making the live show sound like the record but then I realized we’d need at least two other guitar players. It sounded cool when we did it the first time, but it’s too much managing the time and everything. So we just strip it down, do it with everything hanging in its teeth, and just do a different approach. It’s nice when we have another guitar in there so I can get more back to my singing but that’s where everything comes from. And when you get both guitars in there it just sounds massive. So we do want to get to that eventually.

Alex: But take it one step at a time like what you were saying earlier.

Nathan: Exactly. We want to keep things simple, open and clean, and that’s how it comes across live right now. In the studio you can throw in layers and other stuff in there and take the time to mix it, but its better sonically to keep it simpler.

Nathan Down

Alex: Compared to playing at a bar or headlining your own tour, what kind of experiences does playing Cutting Edge open you guys up to? Because instead of playing to one specific audience here just to see you, you have guys like Dead & Divine and everything to Mix Master Mike.

Nathan: This is the first time we’ve ever played something this big. Rocking the campground and hearing the Nathan Down record on the PA system and we have our Nathan Down camp section up. We’ve been hanging out with a few of the other bands; we’ve been doing a lot of promotion for the set tomorrow because ninety-nine percent of the people here don’t know who the hell I am. The experiences we have to create are to make sure more and more people here know the name and can connect with it and come see us tomorrow. As far as I can tell, there’s no one the bill that sounds like us so I’m sure we’ll stand out.

Alex: That’s got to make it way easier to be memorable to the audience, especially if they’ve never experienced what you have to offer yet.

Nathan: That’s why we’re here, that’s what we hope. The next twelve hours is just prepping for that. It’s just counting down until tomorrow so we can hammer it as a way to really jump start the next level of the stuff we have to do.

Alex: I can imagine it opening a lot of doors, dissolving a lot of barriers and making you guys more accessible to events like this.

Nathan: Hopefully next year we’re doing an entire festival circuit all summer. I think as far as what we’re doing this year and getting some frosh week stuff going at Universities in September. We’re going to be bouncing back and forth between the East Coast and Southern Ontario until the end of this year and into next year.

Alex: It’s weird because so many bands don’t tour out there.

Nathan: There’s so many cool Universities out there and if you do a University tour out there it’s great. We want to literally split our time between Southern Ontario and out there (the East Coast) half and half.

Alex: Well thanks for taking some time to hang out with us.

Nathan: No problem. - FAZER MUSIC MAGAZINE



Nathan Down - Never Forget
Review by Alex Young

Nathan Down has been making serious waves with the release of his new album Never Forget, and it’s almost impossible good luck or great karma. Down is an independent Canadian singer/songwriter that has George Stroumboulopoulos and Alan Cross singing his praises for his shimmering acoustic songs. Although the world has heard many acoustic singer/songwriters before, the real magic lies in what someone can do with the tools they are given. The majority of the songs are based around Down’s acoustic musings, backed up by heavy chorus, bombastic drums and emotional lead vocals. On top of that, Down gives each song a distinct sound and a unique trademark allowing every track to shine among all of the others.

The synergy between the symphonic string section and Down’s raw, rugged acoustic rock on “Since the Time I Met You” let the listener get the best of both worlds. The tune “Ride Away” is a graceful ballad that shines a spotlight on Down’s vocals as they glide overtop of a gracious piano riff. The sincerity displayed through the insightful lyrics on the song “Justify” have him saying “Baby I / shouldn’t feel I have to justify / who I really am inside”. Although Down’s songs are typically acoustic, the tracks “Not Waiting”, “Locked Inside” and “Pushing Closer” have enough sludge and distortion they could be an Alice In Chains album.

His strength lies in his ability to craft huge choruses and take songs in surprising directions while keeping the arrangements concise. It’s always awesome to hear an artist reveal their passion through their performance without any fear of being themselves and nothing else. Ultimately it’s Down’s straight forward approach to songwriting that let his tunes remain untainted by trends by letting them overflow with honesty. | - FAZER MUSIC MAGAZINE

"Nathan Down Ready to hit Montreal"

Nathan Down ready to hit Montreal 17.12.09 News by Claudia Matteau

This is a true story.

When I first met Nathan Down, a rising Toronto-based musician and songwriter, I was eating some fruits at the buffet of the Three Days Grace World Premiere Album this past September in a secret venue in Toronto. The first few words we shared, I was totally sold. A large smile was covering his face. In his eyes, you could perfectly read the word PASSION. There was something driving him, something exciting in his way to be. Proudly talking about his own music, I could have listened to what he had to say for hours: he talks with such enthusiasm and excitement, it easily gets anyone very curious about his material in a matter of time.

A few hours later, I was back home, googling his name in hopes to find new music to listen to. The connection was made...

Being essentially in the acoustic rock field, Nathan also flirts with Hard Rock and R&B style. You can notice it on the new album titled "Never Forget" (available on Itune, see links at the end). When recording "Never Forget", it was all about trusting himself and staying true to each individual song. Both visions, melted together, resulted of an amazing mix of hard and soft emotions, that takes you from the first song to the very last without wanting to skip any piece out of the 11 tracks that form the album.

Nathan is self-publishing, self-promoting and self-managing. He played shows with bands such as Nickleback, Protest The Hero, The Roots and Bedouin Soundclash, now he is on his way to Montreal...

Get this.
Nathan Down is actually on the road in Ontario and Quebec (Montreal being his ONLY performance in Quebec), setting up after party shows of Three Days Grace, The Used and Default’s Canadian tour. This tour became possible because Three Days Grace’s guitarist Barry Stock approached Nathan to work with him on new material. Barry said "if you haven't checked him out - you NEED to!" We don’t need more convincing. Nathan Down is a must for your Ipod. No arguing.

The afterparty is held at Les Foufounes Electriques in Downtown Montreal, starting at 11PM. The event is free admission with your 3DG ticket stub, 5$ otherwise. Come party, come listen to great music, come chat with the artist, come witness this incredible Canadian talent. One night only: December 21st.

Head over Nathan's Website to get 3 free downloads from the album or simply stream the entire CD.

Connect on Myspace and Facebook

Support our Canadian artist and buy the album on Itunes!
- Live n Loud magazine


Nathan Down - Never Forget, 2008



Nathan Down is not your typical singer/songwriter. Yes, he plays an acoustic guitar, but that's where the similarities start to fade.
Fusing influences from Progressive and Hard Rock to R&B to Traditional Country there is one thing that he maintains - it's all about the song.
Heart, honesty, and personal experiences are the cornerstone of Nathan Down's music. His songs document a unique journey from his small town beginnings in Amherst, N.S. to his current residency in Toronto, ON. No matter how quiet or how heavy his music is at any given moment, the melody and lyrics are delivered with a power and conviction rarely seen in rock today.
His new album, 'Never Forget', was produced and recorded with John Nazario at Iguana Recording Studios. The rule was simple - trust your gut and do what's best for the song. The result is an eclectic and dynamic display of acoustic rock songwriting that takes the listener on a roller coaster of melody and feel.

Whatever your taste in music, there is something in the repertoire of Nathan Down that will become yours.