To coincide with the release of his latest album Hello My Name Is… Nel Nason – we caught an interview with eclectic songwriter and artist Nel Nason, to find out more about the music, what drives him, what his goals are, and plenty more. Here’s the conversation in full.
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Hi Nel – thanks so much for your time, loving the new album! For those new to your music, how would you define the sound of Nel Nelson?
Thank you so much for interviewing me and checking out the new album! I would consider the sound of Nel Nason to be raw and laced in emotion. I would also consider my sound to be a bit chaotic and versatile, since I tend to experiment with many different genres.
Where did you grow up, what first inspired you musically, and do you come from a musical family?
I grew up in Indiana and am currently based in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was first inspired musically by the band All-American Rejects. They have really amazing bridges in their songs, which is why I love creating bridges to this day.
I grew up listening to my mother sing and I used to always watch my brother make music and write. He was in a lot of bands growing up – I always wanted to do that but didn’t have the confidence until recently to take that step.
Tell me about the new album – What does this collection represent, and why did you choose to remaster these songs?
I’ve released a lot of songs over the last year. It was really hard narrowing down a tracklist for this album. I chose these songs because I felt like it gave a good idea of the lyrics I write and the subject matter I tend to explore. I wanted to create something that could introduce listeners to my music in the most cohesive way possible.
How did Mastermind come to be, and why did you choose this as the opener?
Mastermind is a track that is unlike any other from my discography. I tend to write songs that are on the sadder side and address serious topics. I was feeling angry on the day I wrote Mastermind and I used that inspiration to switch things up both lyrically and with my sound. I had a lot of fun making that song, though I know the lyrics are quite in your face.
I chose it as the opening to make a point that my music can be fun and not so serious, especially since the rest of the album addresses a lot heavier topics afterwards. I also ordered the track list by emotion the song is trying to get across and it made the most sense to put Mastermind first.
What’s a writing session like for you – unplugged and acoustic, pen and paper, or full studio production approach from the start?
When I first started, it was a more full studio production approach. This year I’ve been working more from pen and paper, create a little melody on a voice memo, and then submitting that to my producers to work off of. I usually write songs pretty quickly and can only write a song if I am feeling truly inspired. Often times a producer’s work is what is able to inspire me.
What does the song Sliced Bread seek to explore?
Sliced Bread is my debut track. I released it last year after a terrible relationship. I also drew inspiration from a former boss who was just awful to work under. They were both narcissists and I wanted to make a song about those kind of people that think they’re the “best thing since sliced bread.” It’s a reminder to me that I don’t have to settle for those kinds of people.
Is live performance a big part of your plans?
I have had one live performance and discovered that I have debilitating performance anxiety. I have been working to get that addressed so I can be more successful and comfortable performing live. I recently started working with an artist development firm who is being super helpful at connecting me with coaches and other professionals. I do have a live performance scheduled on new years that I’ll be announcing soon. It has been super fun planning the show and developing the staging.
Given the multi-genre sound of the project, how do you decide which direction to take a new track?
I am inspired by all sorts of sounds and allow my inspiration to take the steering wheel. I listen to so many different artists and types of music and when I hear an interesting sound, it makes me want to try to do something different. I don’t have a strict process when it comes to songwriting, my producers and I decide somewhat impulsively what to do next. This is something we’re working to figure out so I can get into a niche that makes sense for me.
What have you been listening to lately that has impressed or connected with you in a big way?
Portals by Melanie Martinez has been on repeat since the album came out. It is so unique and I am amazed by the production. The writing on it is also super interesting and different- I love how she isn’t afraid to think outside the box.
I have also been listening to Zach Bryan lately. I love his raw and authentic sound. His lyrics have also been inspiring to me as a songwriter.
Another album that has been on repeat is REVAMPED by Demi Lovato. I love that she remade some of her old music into a rock style. It is inspiring me to listen to more rock music and explore that genre more.
You close the album with You’re Not A Bird, You’re A Guy – a piano-led ballad of deeply revealing personal sentiments. Tell me about your headspace when you wrote this, and what it feels like to listen back to it now?
When I wrote this song, I was in a head-space of grappling with my own vices and on the edge of relapse. Listening back to it now, it’s a reminder of the journey towards recovery and the strength it takes to overcome those obstacles. I worked very hard to make an honest song about addiction, not something that glamorizes it.
What’s next for you?
I have a nightcore album coming out in 2023 with both remixed tracks and original nightcore songs. I have found an audience within that space, so I am very excited to connect with them again! I am also working on a new album of original music which will come out at the end of the year. I also have a big show planned on new years which I’ll be announcing soon. I am very excited about what the rest of the year has in store!