The music industry is an everchanging force, with new artists popping up and powerful legends lost, all the while a tempo being kept by those masterminds behind the scenes. Nathaniel James is one of the prominent tempokeepers of modern music, and his deep and soulful relationship to music is as dynamic as the industry itself.
At the ripe age of 3, James’ father put him at the piano keys, not much later seeing this young prodigy playing “On the Hill Far Away” at the local church. Like most brilliant minds, an obstacle got in the way — and for Nathaniel James the hurdles were the struggles of adolescence. James’ passion for music never left, and was powerfully reignited when he was 16 years old and a friend invited him to play at a church. It was back at the church that James’ passion was sparked, and stayed aflame.
“It’s what I am,” says Nathaniel James, who has since worked with notable artists including touring as the keyboardist for The Weeknd, and playing alongside powerhouses like Kaya Stewart & YouTube sensation Leroy Sanchez. James acts as the coarranger and musical director for many of the artists he works alongside, bringing a vast knowledge of both traditional and contemporary musical styles to the table, which allows him to share a rare versatility. James prides himself on fostering a warm and comfortable working environment where the collaborators are able to flow and organically create together.
The Weeknd’s acclaimed drummer, Ricky Lewis, raves about the young and hungry talent. “I initially met Nate on a gig we did together when we were much younger and then reconnected in our twenties through some mutual musician friends. The next time we would get the chance to play together was for The Weeknd’s European and American tour in 2012. He had just over a week to learn the set with our arrangements, different transitions and recreate all the patches before our headlining show for the Primavera Festival in Barcelona, and he killed it.”
As a pianist, composer, keyboardist, and bassist, Nathaniel James has managed to travel throughout his native country of Canada, and throughout the United States, France, Germany, Barcelona, England, and Amsterdam. As a freelancer, he is not tied down to any single artist, and is constantly excited about fostering new relationships. So much so that he’s recently launched his very own hosted show entitled “Living Room Session,” where he facilitates filmed sessions with artists performing cover songs. This YouTube series is proof of James’ proactive nature. The young and passionate musician saw a need for a platform allowing artists to put a face to their music, and for the audience to meet their favorite singer/band through a lowkey performance and video segment.
“One of the greatest guys I know, even outside of being an amazing musician,” raves Ledaris Jones (The Weeknd’s keyboardist/bassist). “Something to for sure appreciate! You can count on him showing up knowing the material and carrying himself in a respectable manner. He’s also a good hang, which is super important when you’re spending months at a time with the same people on the road.”
James recently started his own production company, providing music for all facets of music, from instudio recordings to live performances. And some upcoming gigs including playing alongside artist Snoh Aalegra, as well as performing in Maui, Big Bear, and New York, among many other locations abroad, alongside a some high profile production companies.
Nathaniel James carries a heart filled with desire, and an extensive catalogue of compositions — including commercial music from jingles, to film cues, to radio theme arrangements. As for the future, James is beyond excited to grow his YouTube series and continue fostering relationships with top artists worldwide. He aspires to great heights — writing hit songs with superstars, and one day planning to open his own music institution whereby he can equip musicians with degrees and diplomas — the tools he feels are necessary for working musicians to attain. “Sometimes you have to sacrifice going on a tour to pursue education. I want to help students study music a s they play, and gear the institution towards working musicians, giving them education as a backup, as a supplement. This will ultimately allow musicians to continue working past just touring or working gig to gig.”
“When you watch Nate play you can see how much he truly loves music. His discipline and respect for his craft not only make him easy to work with, they make him reliable as well,” Ricky Lewis adds warmly.
Nathaniel James is a young and multitalented musician with a solid resume, but an even sturdier purpose. With his heart in the right place, it is only a matter of time before all of James’ dreams come true.
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