Interview: Nathan Ball

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Tucked away on a farm (as its name suggests) in Gloucestershire is the intimate, folk-orientated festival Barn On The Farm. Now in its sixth year, the festival has gained a reputation for discovering new talent about to make it big – with past acts including Ed Sheeran, Bastille, Ben Howard and George Ezra, to name a few.

Ahead of this year’s festival, SCAN spoke to Nathan Ball, who will be returning to play there this July.

Could you just introduce yourself and describe your musical style, for anyone who hasn’t heard of your music?

Hey! I’m Nathan Ball, I’m a singer-songwriter, and I play alt-folk.

You’ve been writing songs for over ten years now, yet it was only within recent years that you seem to have found your ‘niche’ in the musical world. How do you feel your writing has progressed over this time?

Yeh, I think that was mostly just not taking it seriously and not actually trying to get anywhere with it, just purely playing for the enjoyment. That was awesome fun! I guess now I just take it a little more seriously which has helped me find my place in the music world a little bit. The principles of the writing are fundamentally the same really, I’ve always written on my own just tucked away in the bedroom, then take the lyrics somewhere inspiring to be written. I have a band on board now which is great to run ideas past and take the songs in the directions I feel they deserve to go.

Where do you get your musical influences and inspiration?

It’s my surroundings to be honest. I love being surrounded by overwhelming nature, like watching a stormy sea on a mad winters day, or being up in the mountains. I’ve grown up snowboarding and surfing so have been lucky enough to be immersed in this scenery my whole life. This is where I tend to write the lyrics, it’s the place I find words just flow the most and the mind is open. Music wise I listen to a load of different music, but weirdly not loads of other people doing similar things to us! I listen to more techno than most things to be honest. There’s a label called Innervisions in Berlin who can’t put a foot wrong in my mind, and they tend to be the most influential for me.

To me, your music feels like it creates a very atmospheric mental picture; would you say that you try to make your music feel like an overall experience as whole?

Yeh I guess so. I’ve always found it really interesting listening to records that you can just close your eyes and listen to and they take you off somewhere else. I love listening to songs that you pick out subtle parts with every listen, and I think that’s something we’ve tried to create with the first two EP’s, and something we’ve brought increasingly into the live show.

How have you found the experience of playing with a full band rather than playing solo, like you had done previously?

I love playing with the band, it was always the intention when I wrote the songs, and to be honest found it pretty frustrating just playing the acoustic on my own. I always I had a vision of where I wanted the songs to be, but there was only so much I could do with the whole ‘one man and his guitar’ thing. I do still like stripping it back and having that option to play the odd show on my own, but it’s definitely a lot more fun having a few beers with the whole gang after!

How does it feel to be asked back to be part of the Barn on the Farm family again this year?

Yeh it’s rad! We played 11 festivals last summer and it was our first summer on the festival circuit really, and Barn on the Farm stood out by a mile. The line up is always so ahead of it’s time and it’s a real honour to be on that poster amongst so many amazing artists that are really going places. The vibe at the festival is like nowhere else aswell. All the artists just wander around chatting to everyone and checking out the other bands, there’s certainly no room for egos on the farm! The crowd are amazing too, it’s full of genuine music lovers, which the bands feed off and makes for an incredible atmosphere.

Is there anything new we can expect to hear from you and the band this summer?

Ha! That’s in discussions at the moment! I think we might sneak out a cheeky single with a B-side on at some point. There’ll certainly be some new songs we’ve been working on in the sets, and we’re off to the Netherlands to play a few shows and a festival, so we’re looking forward to that for sure.

We’re looking forward to seeing you at the festival this summer, and can’t wait to see what else you have in store with future releases! 

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