East of Eli has received critical acclaim with American Songwriter noting West as an artist on the rise as well as being featured in such high-profile outlets as People Magazine, Hollywood Life, New York Post, Hallmark’s “Home and Family,” and more. East of Eli has also found success selling out top venues in the US including Los Angeles's Troubadour and New York's Knitting Factory as well headlining a sold out European tour in such cities as Paris, London, Berlin, Copenhagen and more including a special performance at Liverpool's famed Cavern Club where they received their ceremonial brick and future residency. Touring with his devoted wife and featured singer Chyler Leigh (Supergirl, Grey’s Anatomy), East of Eli has established a dedicated and fervent fan base worldwide.
We spoke to Nathan and began by asking him about his recent birthday and how he celebrated.
I had an amazing time with a bunch of our fans out in Las Vegas. We played a show there just over a week ago and it was fantastic. People from all over the world came along and celebrated it with me, which is always the best thing when you have people who love you around. It was a great time!
Your new single is called ‘Childsplay’. How would you describe it?
We actually have a couple out. ‘Childsplay’ is about young love. It’s remembering back to the days when I had first started dating. I have a son now who has started to move into that arena and has his first girlfriend, so I thought I’d write him a song about the experience and what it’s like. It’s kind of what the song is about; it’s about young, puppy love. Then we have a song out called ‘Glow’.
Do you have a preference over those songs?
I love both! I feel like they are two completely different songs. As an artist I like to cross genres a lot. Today, more than ever, we get a chance to do that. When people ask what ‘Childsplay’ I say it’s like if you took a bit of Maroon 5 and Weezer and put them together. ‘Glow’ is of its own accord right now. It’s got a bit of a ska rhythm in it, but it’s also quite electronic and it’s got some trip-hop in it too. We’re exploring here!
What was the inspiration behind ‘Glow’?
This whole album for me, which comes out in February or so next year, I kind of took a lot from my personal experience, with my family and stuff. I wrote songs for everybody, including myself, and felt the message behind it translated very well with the fans. In one sense it’s a very personal album [but] on the other side it’s for everyone out there. The fans have really connected to it. ‘Glow’ is something that I actually wrote for my daughter. Sometimes she feels very insecure about who she is; she feels she’s a bit different and we try to celebrate that in our house. I felt like writing a song for her, to encourage her, and so many others. You are unique for a reason and it’s important to allow that person to come out as the world needs that. Once you discover that you discover the missing puzzle piece that makes the greater picture. Instead of hiding it, let it glow, let it shine!
That’s the idea behind it; then you put in a bit of that trip-hop and the electronic behind it and it comes alive really quickly.
Is it important to you as an artist to blend different genres and do different things with your music?
Absolutely! I fight that every day with my team. Everybody wants me to home in on one particular genre or a type of sound but I feel like Van Morrison. He kind of found the same genre but if you listen to [him] there’s a lot of difference even in the tonality of the vocals. It’s like he was always expanding and growing and changing and I feel like music is in a place where we, as artists, have the upper hand to really explore our creativity and our artistry and push the limits. I try to find a through-line when I write, even with melody. It’s a blank canvas for me when I step out into the studio these days. I just love exploring what else I can bring to the table.
We have another song coming out called ‘Nine to Five’. Working with Rocky [he said] ‘I think he’s just crossed like thirteen different genres in one song!’. The idea is not to get as many different genres in as you can, it’s just where the music leans into. We might take the bassline from a funk background; in the chorus we have gospel going on, and in the background vocal. It’s fun. Music’s in a good place right now.
You’ve been in the studio recently; what have you been working on?
I’m trying to finish this album that I’ve been working on for almost two years now. It’s changed hands; I’ve worked with a few different producers on it. I feel the evolution of ‘East of Eli’ started as a band, and ended up being a solo thing for myself. It’s obviously still a band but it lives and dies with me as the artist. For several years we’ve been putting that together but we’re now in the home stretch with three songs left, two of which are pretty much done. We have one last one; we’ll go in and get everything mixed down and it’ll be released in early 2018.
Is it quite a varied album in style?
Yes it is [but] there is a through-line. You can connect to it; you can definitely tell it’s ‘East of Eli’. But at the same time I always live outside the box. For me I wanted to bring something fresh and exciting. We don’t really buy albums any more. We create playlists, and all that playlist are singles. I’m looking at my album like I’m putting together twelve singles rather than one album. There’s continuity because it’s me, I’m ultimately the artist behind it, so there’s that connectivity, but at the same time why not cross genres and explore a bit; as an artist that’s what I’m supposed to do right?
You’ve performed live lots including at Liverpool’s famous ‘Cavern Club’. How would you describe your live show?
The fans like to call it an EOE experience. It’s definitely that; it’s an experience through and through! A lot of time people come out to discover something new. At the end of the show I talk to the fans and the thing I hear the most is how they came to hear me for the first time, or came with a friend to check me out, and now “I’m in!” We have people who fly in from all over the world. People as far as Japan, Brazil, all over Canada, UK, Germany, all flying in for a concert in the Roxy which we sold out. It’s incredible! We have the best following, and I feel the fans make it what it is. We have the best fans in the world so I’m really thankful for that!
Finally what are your ambitions for the next six months?
It’s just really important for me, right now, to get back and get out there and finish this album. It’s been a long time coming. I’ve toured a bit but not as much as I’d like to. In 2018 we’re going to get ourselves back around the world; definitely get over to the UK and Europe, and then push onto Brazil, Australia and a few other places, to try and expand our reach!