Who Is: Nate Henricks

4 Apr

“Who Is:” is an ongoing interview series highlighting cool people.

Photo by: Angie Schoenherr

Nate Henricks is a bit of a myth in the Midwest: Many people have heard of him, been fortunate to see him play music or just hang with him at the local Pizza Hut. A Nate Henricks sighting, however, is a rare thing to some and should be taken with gratitude.

Nate is a unique musician, the kind that seems to always be cranking out solid tunes made in his bedroom or parents’ house or whatever shelter he’s inhabiting these days.

His newest album, “NTH MERIDIAN,” came out at the start of this year.

What got you started in playing music?

My parents started me on piano lessons in kindergarten, then I played drums in band and started recording songs in early high school.  My hometown, Peoria, IL, had a really awesome community of punks/ musicians that were a big inspiration to me.

Did you set any goals for yourself?

To make music that my friends might like.

Your new album, NTH MERIDIAN, came out at the start of the year. How was the writing process for this album shaped?

I wrote and recorded the songs of NTH MERIDIAN in the order that they appear on the album.  I wrote the songs as I tracked them, usually starting out with guitar or banjo as a skeleton.

How long had you been working on the songs?

NTH MERIDIAN took me about 2 months to complete.

Would you say there is a theme to it?

Yeah, a couple at least I think; placelessness, relativity, virtuous dis-attachment, trying to make sense of situations that don’t make sense

Each of your albums changes in sound and structure—NTH is certainly different from 2007’s We Make Low Art!  Are there any particulars that make an album what it is, or does the music reflect what you’re going through at certain times?

Chance plays a big role: I never really know how the songs are going to end up, or how they are going to fit together. Also, my moods, music that I’m listening too, noises that I hear, ideas from books…

Most of your tunes are bedroom recordings. Do you track things bit by bit over a long period of time, or do you knock an entire album out in a weekend?

It depends on my work schedule. Right now I work 30 hours a week at a café, and get to record on my days off.  Some days I get to track all day long- other days just hours at a time, or none at all.

I view you as a bit of a traveler, hanging out in the mountains or popping up in some city or, in general, just a bit off the radar. Then, all of a sudden, you release a new album. Is your traveling and songwriting intertwined? How do you find time for both?

I really like to see new places.  Similarly, one of my goals as an artist is to produce new sounds and images.  So maybe there is a deep connection there.  Wow, I’ve never thought of that before!…Time usually works itself out, I’m not much of a planner, but still find myself getting stuff done…

Where are you at these days, and what are you up to?

I’m currently living in Five Points, Denver, where I live with my partner, Angie, and five other friends in an old house.  I’m working and hanging and keeping it creative in my free time.

Since we first met in 2007 or so, the music scene has changed both in sound and attitude. How have you seen things change in IL and CO? Has it changed for better or worse?

I see a lot of self-absorbed attitudes among musicians and artists in Denver.  I guess its part of the competition games that people play.  Fuck that shit!  I prefer encouraging creative communities and people being good to each other.

I think there are a lot of great changes happening too though.  As music and musical equipment become more accessible, and more and more people have the opportunity to create, crazy awesome potentials!  I hope music gets weirder and weirder, and that alternative cultures spread like crazy.

Do you think that change is inevitable—that the music scene is always evolving?

Definitely.  I think as technology evolves it has a big impact on the way we use and relate to media.

Is it possible to get back to “how things were”?

I’m not sure.  Maybe the idea is to work towards what you want the scene to look like…?

You also create some awesome artwork, from those on your tumblr to the trippy/glitchy pieces on Facebook. How is the latter created?

I like to find funny or colorful images in google searches, then cut them up and rearrange them in Microsoft paint.  Its really fun to flip them and connect them and then resize them to make kaleidoscopic images.  Also- you can make magic eye pictures this way!

What role does art have in your songwriting?

For now, I think of my music like collage (in that I’m layering sounds) or studio painting (in that I’m performing in an isolated space-time).  So the forms instruct each other, and it all leads to introspection that provides new thoughts to work with.

Any specific artists shaping your style?

Caleb Engstrom, Ohtis, Berry, Frank Zappa, Paul Goodman, Robert Anton Wilson, Houston McKenzie, Top Grossing Films of 1984, Anne Waldman, Tom Robbins, William S Burroughs, Angie Schoenherr, Acid Mothers Temple, John Cage, Laurie Anderson…

What’s next for Nate Henricks?

Just finished tracking a full-length tape that’s going to be released by Patient Sounds!  Also I hope to move around a lot.

Check out all of Nate’s tunes via Bandcamp.

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