Neil Nathan’s ability to touch the soul comes from spinning together the nostalgia of classic rock, inspired by the likes of Cat Stevens and George Harrison, with influences from bands in the newer wave of indie-folk, such as Band of Horses and Wild Pink.
With the recent Ukrainian-Russian conflict, Neil wrote an anti-war anthem, ‘The Folly of War’, as well as releasing a video which utilised footage and graphics from previous wars. The message of the song is that love can unite us all, and the song and video were created partly to raise money for World Central Kitchen to provide meals for displaced Ukrainians. He’s also made some fundraising t-shirts for The Folly Of War, and they’re available here.
Lisa spoke to Neil about ‘The Folly Of War’, and how to fight the good fight.
Your new single and video ‘The Folly Of War’ is an anti-war anthem, much like that of the anti-war protest songs of the 1960s. How important a part do you feel musicians have to play in speaking out on social injustice, and why do you think more artists don’t raise their voices against such things?
Bringing three chords and your truth with that magical emotional power only music has, is a tried and true tradition at this point. I’m just dipping my toes in well tread waters. Plenty of folks use their platform to spotlight injustice. It’s hard to say, but maybe more don’t because they fear they might lose fans and negatively impact their income. I was advised by a trusted colleague in the biz not to release my 2020 protest song Election Day for just that reason. But one has to do whatever they think is right for them.
What inspired you to stand up and be counted, and how can we encourage others (musical artists and others alike) to do likewise?
I’m not gonna tell someone what to do with their art, with their voice. I create what I’m compelled to create, and do my best to be true to who I am as an artist. That’s quite a task all by itself. If I’m doing it well, it’ll impact others.
How has the pandemic affected you, and what lessons have you learned from the past two years, that you’ll take with you into the “new normal”?
My wife and I were very conservative during the lockdown, we just wanted to see her 90 year old gramma as soon as we could and that was tough. What a joy it was when after two years, we did! I did and still do find it incredibly disheartening so many people don’t trust science. People live in informational bubbles and it’s making it real hard to communicate. I’m not feeling great about humankind’s lesser angels at the moment. And a minority of folks feeling like they should have the power to make decisions for the majority. But I’m appreciating my wife and our friends and our quality time together more than ever.
Who or what have been your greatest inspirations in music? What about life in general?
I’m eternally inspired to grow as a songwriter, singer, recording artist, and producer. That journey is my practice. And it occupies a lot of my time and energy. It’s my bliss. All these crafts are my means of exploring my own experience and doing my best to communicate what I uncover through the magic of music.
Who came up with the concept for the video for ‘The Folly of War’?
I wanted to bring some of the hopeful and ethereal feel of the song to the video and collaborated with graphic designer and animator Daniela Saavedra on the concept of weapons of war dropping flowers, peace, and love, rather than destruction. And then brought in Artemis Visuals, who I worked with on last Summer’s “You’re My Lady” and “All Together” videos, to unearth the vintage war footage and weave it together with the gifs. It was one of the most organic and smooth production experiences I’ve had! Huge thanks to both artists for bringing their creativity and heart to the project.
And finally, what question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does? And what’s the answer to that question?
How old are you?
I’m older than the sands of time and as young as my next breath.