whynow is the time to listen to… Nat Slater

With ‘My Candy Rain’ out now, we had a quickfire chat with Nat Slater about her journey into music and her artistic ambitions, as part of our series on emerging artists.

Nat Slater interview

Nat Slater has her first offering of 2023, ‘My Candy Rain’, with a new video to match. It’s a track that blends the sounds of garage and RnB she grew accustomed to from an early age; which she and the song’s chart-topping producer Oren Yoel describe as ‘GnB’. 

With more than a hint of nostalgia – the track uses a hook from the original ‘Candy Rain’ by 90’s New York group Soul for Real – it’s also the product of a burst of creative freedom for the rising star. This a lesson Slater is fast learning: sometimes the best output is created when it’s not overthought, but is the product of simply doing what you love.

With ‘My Candy Rain’ out now, we had a quickfire chat with Nat about her journey into music and her artistic ambitions, as part of our series on emerging artists.

How are you? What have you been up to recently?

I’m good, I’m in L.A. right now, finishing up my first project. I’ve been in the studio pretty much every day, I love it out here… I think just writing in the sun changes the way you write. I probably write happier songs out here.

Obviously ‘My Candy Rain’ is out now, but to get into your story as an artist: what was the moment when you realised you wanted to be an artist?

It was always a thing. I don’t remember a specific moment because I was always surrounded by music. I started playing guitar and piano super young. That’s what got me into writing because I was just making silly little songs in my room, which just naturally what happened. Then I started performing and fell in love with it – but it was always there.

Do you remember your first song?

I do, it was it was something like, “Come on baby, let’s fly away.”

Maybe one day it’ll get a rerelease… It very much is the case you grew up around music because your mum featured on garage classics with the likes of Artful Dodger and Smokin Beats. What influence did that have on you?

That’s what I mean that I was surrounded by it: my mum was in it and was always playing music. She was an inspiration because I could see someone doing it as a career and it made me realise I could do that.

Nat Slater

And specifically her work on garage tracks must have fed into your musical tastes and your output now…

100%. Garage definitely just feels like home; obviously, my mum was so heavily involved in that scene. She’s definitely the plug, I can’t lie. She’s got great music taste; even today, she plays the coolest shit and I don’t know how she finds it.

What’s ‘My Candy Rain’ about?

It came from when we were experimenting in the studio. Obviously, the chorus is [from the track ‘Candy Rain’ by] Soul For Real. I was listening to some old RnB before I came to the studio, and then it just came out. We were having fun with it and ‘My Candy Rain’ is just about that sweet moment when you’re starting things with someone new and everything’s sweet.

When you say ‘we’, I presume you’re talking about working with Oren Yoel, whose credits include Miley Cyrus and XXXTentacion. What’s it been like working with him? What’s he brought out of you as an artist?

I think it’s very rare when you meet people in the studio, and they just let you do your thing. He definitely encouraged me to be myself, and to have fun with it. That’s really just the core of it; if you’re not doing it for fun, why are you doing it? I think we can very easily take ourselves too seriously, but we just had the best time. There were no limits, no boundaries.

Nat Slater

Have you experienced the other way, where you’ve put a lot of pressure on yourself as an artist?

100%, I think everyone’s felt like that. I think it’s very normal to feel like that, but I think you have to remind yourself why you’re doing it. I do it because I love this shit, and that’s the whole reason.

You’ve described ‘My Candy Rain’ as ‘GnB’. What do you mean by that?

GnB is a mix of garage and RnB. I just wanted to blend the two the two worlds because obviously they’re both a part of me.

We’re seeing that blend a bit more broadly; obviously PinkPantheress is probably at the forefront of that. Is that a movement you feel you want to be part of?

There’s definitely some cool shit coming out of the UK right now. We’re always the pioneers, I feel like. I’m not trying to really fit into any bubble, just trying to do my own thing and see how it goes.

Nat Slater

What’s your experience been of playing live so far? I understand you’ve been playing open-mic nights since you were 15…

Yeah, I think I did every open-mic night in London. I love playing live. I always want to keep getting better. I think going to concerts and seeing people that are just amazing, makes you want to do that. I always want to level up, I never want to plateau.

Trickier question: you can listen to one song for the rest of your life, what are you choosing?

Oh my god, that’s a horrible question… I don’t know why, but I have a song that’s coming to mind: ‘End Of The Road’ by Boyz II Men.

It’s heartbreaking song – a significant tune too, historically…

It’s a beautiful song. We used to play that in the car all the time; me and my brother know that song back-to-front.

You answered that well, so well in. But to broaden it a bit: if you could only listen to one artist, who would it be?

Oh my god, for the rest of my life? Hmm… I know: Frank Ocean. Because he has quite a lot of variety so I wouldn’t be stuck listening to the same thing for the rest of my life.

And how would you put your artistic vision across?

That’s cool. I tend to not really look too far into the future, I tend to just go day-by-day, because things can change so quickly. You just don’t know what’s going to happen. But I love to just connect with people. Even when people message me saying a song meant a lot to them, them having their own special moment with the song, that’s so cool.

Obviously, you can have your own emotional connection to the song; all my songs are very personal, but when someone else is having a whole other perspective, they can actually hear the song completely differently to you, it gives the song new life.

Nat Slater is supporting Isaiah Dreads at Brixton’s Hootananny, on 15 March 2023; and Iyamah at Omeara on 7 April 2023.

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