Nate Young Q&A

Photo by Alivia Zivich ©2018

Welcome to Magazine Sixty, Nate. Let’s start with your new album: Volume One: Dilemmas of Identity. Can you tell us about the meaning behind the title and the story about how the music found its way onto this album?

Dilemmas of Identity consists of a lot of compulsively made jams. These jams helped me chill and forget about my personal problems for a moment…so I could laugh. After the loss of my brother in 2015, I found myself suffering from severe grief and depression. I was struggling to see the point of being an artist, struggling to see the point of my career, ironically, I found myself retreating into my music more than ever. The distraction helped me cope with my grief and I found myself furiously making music. Many of the songs are ridiculous and out of character for me, but these songs help me remember the growth that can come from loss.


You have recently done a series of live shows as both Wolf Eyes and as a solo artist. How did you transfer the music from studio recordings to playing it live? Can you tell us about the instruments you use and what performing music in a live setting means for you as opposed to recorded sound?

I have always been interested in making use of whatever is around me. When I started making music and instruments it was out of necessity. I am an uneducated, unemployed, bohemian-esque stoner, raised by free thinking LSD crazed hippies in the Ozarks via Michigan. When I approach sound, I try to take all of this into account. I do not have a master’s degree in music or any formal education. I am not a record collector either, my music influences and ideas come from my weird experiences. And like a lot of artists I just feel around in the dark until I find the light switch.

What words best describe the emotions and atmospheres you seek to achieve with your music?

I’ve been drugged and lost in this week/I took a day to break for each blink

What was your first introduction to electronic sound? And who are your biggest influences?

I got my start with electronics in my late teens. The first thing I made/modified was a payphone speed dialler. This was sold in the 80’s-90’s as a speed dialler for land lines. If you replaced a component inside it (I think it was a crystal diode) you could hold it up to the telephone receiver and make free phone calls. It would make the same tone as a quarter being inserted into the coin slot. I booked my first tour with this. Since the late 90’s the phone companies caught on and it stopped working. I remember the operator would come on and yell at me saying the cops were on the way. HA! Funny stuff. Around this time I started making music with friends and bought a guitar. It got stepped on in the first week. Instead of getting it fixed I removed the pick-ups and attached them to some bed springs and an ironing board. Under the ironing board I attached a metal detector. This was my first electronic instrument. Sort of sounded like an oscillator with an envelope follower. It’s funny to think about this now because ever since then percussive whines have been a fixture in my work. Booommmmm weeeeeeee Booommmmm weeeeee

Tell us about the concept behind Trip Metal Fest and your plans for it?

Trip Metal aims to capitalize on confusion as a means of connection rather than a threat to authenticity. The fest was a way for us to continue supporting people we admire. We plan to give away all our money to artists and tickets cost nothing. Trip Metal is free.

The Wolf Eyes website also displays a collection of sound and artworks. Can you tell us about those and what the paintings represent for you?

Painting is the same thing as playing music to me. We have always made images to go with our sound. We have close to 300 different record and tape covers. This new “painting with unique audio composition” is really just a release that’s limited to 1 of 1. The image influences the sound and the sound influences the image.

Talk us through how you conceived of and then produced the albums opening track: ‘In The Shadow Of’?

This song was originally made to accompany a film called Naves Ena (from 1971) The film is about a group of fishermen who are set adrift on an iceberg facing death from hunger and exposure. This was a commission for a music festival in Riga, Latvia Skanu Mezs. I composed the track but never recorded it until years later.

Outside of the world of electronic music who do you like to read/ watch/ listen to?

I read a lot of comics, anything by Grant Morrison, Saga, Doom Patrol. I am just finishing City by Clifford D. Simak. I also read a lot of gear manuals. Watching…hmmm well the last thing that was cracking me up was People Just Do Nothing.

How do you feel about nostalgia and its place in contemporary music?

Its fine, that’s how we process what is relatable.

You setup your own label Lower Floor Music with John Olson and Warp Records. How have you found running your own label and what are the benefits in doing so?

We’ve been running our own tape labels for years. Lower Floor is a slightly bigger idea, but basically the same thing as American tapes or AA Records. We want to release more music by our friends. This year we are trying to release an Art Ensemble of Chicago live at Trip Metal Fest. So…bigger ideas are coming.

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