erasing clouds

100 Musicians Answer the Same 10 Questions

Part Seventy-Five: Nathan Amundson of Rivulets

instigated by dave heaton

As Rivulets, singer/songwriter Nathan Amundson creates dark, fragile, minimalist music that sounds like no other. Sad, haunting, unmistakable. His two albums on Chairkickers (Debridement and Rivulets), and multiple EPs, are about to be followed up with a brand-new third album. You Are My Home comes out on November 28, on Important Records. For more information, check out the Rivulets website and MySpace.


What aspect of making music excites you the most right now?

Trying to write songs in a classic pop structure that still push the envelope somehow.

What aspect of making music gets you the most discouraged?

Making music isn't the problem. That's always fun. It's what happens after it's on tape. Labels can hold you hostage for years, or totally save you. But after that, kids don't value it. They don't think it's worth paying for. It's also frustrating to see dance and theatre always in the press under 'Arts', but music is just 'Entertainment'. It's not taken seriously in this country, it's just candy.

What are you up to right now, music-wise? (Current or upcoming recordings, tours, extravaganzas, experiments, top-secret projects, etc).

The 3rd rivs album "you are my home" comes out November 28 on Important records. Then hopefully going out on a US tour to support it, though I don't buy into that way of thinking. Touring and recording are completely disparate things. This album has been finished and fighting for release for over a year, but if saying we're out to "support" it helps book a tour, so be it. Other than that, I'm working on collaborations with Jessica Bailiff, Jamie Stewart from Xiu Xiu, and Michael Anderson from Drekka and Turn Pale.

What's the most unusual place you've ever played a show or made a recording? How did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

It's all unusual. I mean, getting on stage under the pretense that what you're about to do is going to be worth your average bar or club-goer's time is pretty mystifying to begin with. Recording-wise, I've done a lot of comp tracks in bedrooms and bathrooms, but that's not too unusual these days.

In what ways does the place where you live (or places where you have lived), affect the music you create, or your taste in music?

I think taste in music is pretty personal and not specific to any location, but the places I live definitely affect my general outlook and the kind of music I create while I'm there.

When was the last time you wrote a song? What can you tell us about it?

A couple days ago. It's a song for the project with Jamie. It's half about a childhood friend who died of cancer and half about realizing I'm no more grown up emotionally now than I was then.

As you create more music, do you find yourself getting more or less interested in seeking out and listening to new music made by other people...and why do you think that is?

I think I'm as interested as always, but my interest has turned more towards stuff from the past. I have basically zero interest in whatever is new or hyped nowadays, unless it's recommended to me by a friend. Everything seems to be referencing the past, so why not just listen to the past? I'm totally complicit in this too, I'm under no illusions that my music is anything new. There are very few popular atists I'm aware of who are actually creating "new" music; Xiu Xiu comes to mind.

Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener? (Old or new music? Music like yours or different from yours?)

Lately, it's older, different... The Kinks, the Zombies, always Big Star. I love listening to this tightly constructed pop stuff and trying to figure out what makes it so great. It's my own personal education in songwriting I guess. But I also love the self-titled Jesu record. No-one does heavy/beautiful like Justin Broadrick. I've been listening to him since Godflesh days in high school.

Name a musician or band, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What's one of your all-time favorite recordings by this musician/band?

Mark Hollis. He was the singer in Talk Talk, but after that he made one self-titled solo record that is probably overall the most gorgeous record I've ever heard. He sings like Billie did, like a jazz instrument. I don't know, the arrangements are so open but counter-intuitive. For such a quiet album, it's pretty thrilling. It's probably out of print but it's worth whatever you have to pay for it. Yeah, "Mark Hollis" by Mark Hollis.

What's the saddest song you've ever heard?

"Don't Explain" by Billie Holiday. He's cheating, but she loves him so much she doesn't care.

Photo by Laurent Orseau.

To check out the rest of the Q&As, click here.

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