Critically acclaimed British artist Nathan Ball is known for his poetic storytelling, as well as his folk and house inspired sound.
His latest single, “Blindside” explores the narrative of a relationship falling apart at the seams and pulls inspiration from the rundown Cornwall farmhouse it was recorded in.
We chatted with Ball about “Blindside,” recording his upcoming debut album ‘Under the Mackerel Sky,’ and more!
What inspired your latest single “Blindside”?
Blindside was one of those songs that just poured out of me. I was sat at an old piano and started playing the chords and the melody just kind of formed immediately. The lyrics delve into a relationship that has fallen apart and losing sight of one another but craving that connection back.
You recorded the single in an old chapel. What was it like recording in that environment and did it inspire elements of the song?
It was an amazing experience. I was down there with Max who produced the record; it was the middle of winter and we were tucked away from this storm that was hammering on the windows. We were there for a week and just wrote all day every day, there was a really special atmosphere in the air. Being in there hidden from the storm certainly inspired the production in the song, hearing those howling winds and wild rains made us want to replicate that feeling which you can certainly hear in the choruses of the track.
Where did the concept for your album artwork come from and what was it like to create it with artist Leif Podhajsky?
We’d started discussing the artwork once we’d got all the masters back and were all sending each other inspirations and turns out like 5 of the artworks we had sent were all done by the same person! So, we got in touch with Leif and played him the record and he was on board! The album for me is a real reflection of time at home in Cornwall, and a love letter of sorts to the place. When the whole world was put on hold, it made me really appreciate taking some time out and enjoying so many things that may often just pass me by when the wheels are in motion. I wanted this to come across in the artwork, so I took a load of pictures on my film camera and sent them over the Leif. He worked his magic on them, layering multiple images over each other and created this beautiful scene which I feel sums up the record perfectly. That burnt orange colour scheme reflects the sunset we are so often spoilt with here living in the south west, and the pinks in the single artworks reflect the mackerel sky which inspired the record.
If you could set fans up in the perfect environment to listen to “Blindside,” what do you imagine it looking like?
To be honest I’d take them back to the exact space it was written in, in the old chapel just outside of Bath. Immediately, when I listen to it, I’m transported back to that space, sheltering from the mad storms and making music by candlelight. It’s also got this footpath that leads from the door of the chapel through stunning fields, right to the door of the pub, so that’s an added bonus!
What can fans expect from your upcoming debut album ‘Under the Mackerel Sky’ due out later this year?
The record for me is the epitome of the sound I’ve been searching for, for a while. I’m a huge house music fan and have been fortunate enough to work with a lot of DJ’s recently, and I really wanted a nod to this electronic music, whilst also combining that raw singer-songwriter style, so I wanted to sit in the space where those two worlds could meet. It’s a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, there are moments that tug on the heartstrings and anthemic moments that make me want to smash things up! As I mentioned earlier it’s a real reflection of the space it was created in and I really feel that comes across throughout the songs. The album title ‘Under The Mackerel Sky’ refers to the skies we very often see down here, a kind of patchwork across the horizon that to sea folk means a change is coming, usually in relation to the weather. The record was written at a time of wild uncertainty and unknown and I liked the idea that perhaps a change was coming in the world; globally, nationally and personally.
How has writing and living in Cornwall influenced the album?
We’re very fortunate to live in such an inspiring place, surrounded by so many creative people and incredible scenery. Days were spent in the water, walking the coast path and writing and recording music. It was amazing to step off the hamster wheel of touring and just switch off for a while. This sparked so much creativity in me and the songs just poured out. The environment down here is a constant thread throughout the record, whether that be the sea reflected in crashing drums or a night sky depicted in a guitar line. You can hear slight creeks of the floorboards of the old farmhouse we recorded it in and until the final mix a strange crow which sadly we got rid of in the end.
What can fans look forward to next?
Touring when the world opens up again! I’ve gone from playing 82 shows in a year in 2019 to 1 in the last 15 months, so it’s going to be amazing to take these new songs on the road and give them a new lease of life in a live space.
Your first show after the release of your debut album is at London’s Omeara in September. What can fans expect from one of your live performances?
Yeh I can’t wait for that show! I think it’s been rescheduled like 3 times now, so it’ll be amazing to get back to London and play for our fans up there. The live show I’m going to give a bit more of a nod to that electronic space again, with more synths and a focus on the atmosphere with lights and soundscapes.
What is one quote you have heard or that you go by that you want to ECHO out to the world?
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson