Photo Credit Gabriella Hernandez
It’s hard as can be to pick oneself up after a lone bad occurrence let alone a what appears to be a neverending stream. While Nate Salman, otherwise known as Waterstrider, faced nature as well as heartache both figuratively and literally, he didn’t let throw his entire existence to the wind. Even though it was possibly the worst part of his tale, out of it came a new record rightfully titled Way Out. Waterstrider was nice enough to take some time to talk to us about the new music, hip hop and more.
Kendra: A few years ago when one negative situation after the next was going on, were you working on music at the time?
Waterstrider: I was indeed. I never really stop working on music, even when it’s been a long time since I finished (or released) a project. I actually had been working on another full length that was a bit more electro R&B and pop-influenced, but it didn’t feel as natural as I had hoped it would. It didn’t feel honest enough. It felt like I was dressing them up in cool clothes and trying to make them fit in. Some of that might see daylight someday, but for now, it’s going to stay hidden until I can find the right skin for those songs to live in. Something a little stranger and unapologetic.
Kendra: I’m curious as to if you were heading in one direction musically and lyrically but then after the continuous storm headed elsewhere with everything?
Waterstrider: You guessed it. I had been making a much poppier record and decided to scrap that year of work. It felt very bleak at the time, as I was essentially broke and desperately scrambling to find work to pay off some crazy medical bills. I was sleep deprived and bouncing around several jobs, writing and demoing new songs in the couple of hours I had in between shifts. I was just processing emotions, but I also felt that I had let down the label and the team I was working with at the time so the pressure felt real.
The songs became much more personal and I stopped restricting myself from writing about my reality. That being said, however, you interpret these songs is valid. Meanings have already shifted for me over the course of recording them and just reflecting as I live my life. I find so much power in being allowed to derive meaning for oneself in someone else’s creation. I think that’s why art and creativity are so important: we get to show each other how it feels to be us and know that we’re not alone.
Kendra: In the end, how do you feel Nowhere Now compares to Way Out on a personal level?
Waterstrider: Nowhere Now and Way Out are exactly what they were supposed to be for me at the times that I made them. That’s all I can ask for. If I can look back and know that those creations were serving the purpose of expressing who I was and how I felt at that time, then I feel like I’ve done a proper job. The next batch of songs I release should feel like a natural progression as well, at least from my perspective. Just trying to figure out what it means to be a human in this endless, expansive universe.
Kendra: With a very experimental meets indie dipped in pop sound, I was surprised when I was just reading the lyrics before hitting play to the title track of your upcoming release, “Way Out.” To me, it read as if I could place a beat on it and turn it into a hip hop track. Were you influenced by anyone in that genre growing up or currently?
Waterstrider: I’ve listened to a lot of MF Doom over the years (especially the record he did with Madlib, Madvillainy). I love Kendrick Lamar’s records as well. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about hip hop, but it’s definitely music that I appreciate. I actually just recently listened to Childish Gambino’s Because the Internet for the first time and really dug it. The low end in a lot of hip hop is something that I strive to emulate. There’s a lot of slightly experimental R&B and electronic stuff that was a big influence as well: Jai Paul, Arca, Fever Ray, Hundred Waters, Bjork, FKA Twigs, NAO. There’s also a ton of stuff outside of that that I always go back to Joni Mitchell, Jose Gonzalez, Paul Simon, Nick Drake, Neil Young.
Kendra: How is the Oakland scene at this present moment?
Waterstrider: I haven’t been living there for the last couple of years so I can’t answer from a truly informed place. However, all of my friends there seem to be making tons of beautiful music, so it feels like it’s an inspiring scene up there. Just to name a handful of brilliant bay area musicians: Alycia Lang, Firemaid, Madeline Kenney, Meernaa, Bells Atlas, Makeunder, The Seshen, Perhapsy, LakeCube, Foxtails Brigade, Kid Trails, Astronauts, Etc., Brijean and Toro Y Moi are all driving the Oakland scene. All of them make brilliant paintings of sound.
Kendra: Will you be touring or playing locally after Way Out drops on June 28?
Waterstrider: I will be playing my first show in the bay in two years the day after Way Out is released. Really looking forward to reuniting with the bay vibrations. Outside of that show, nothing is booked as of yet but there will most likely be some more dates in California and the West Coast soon.