ARTIST ON THE WATCH: NATHANIEL W. JAMES

Updated: Aug 10

Nathaniel, tell us some more about how you got started in music.

I technically started out in music when I was about 3 years old and my father would take me from church to church and play hymns as a special selection.


I stopped and didn’t pick it up again until I was in high school.

I would track beats by recording the instrumental sections of songs back and forth between two boomboxes until I had a long enough loop for my friends to record on top of.

I was in the school band so I spent all my time in the band room playing the instruments and showing other students my recorded music.


Throughout my teens I was playing my piano everyday after school and playing for church services and concerts on the weekend.


There was no clubbing or house parties for me coming up as a Seventh-day Adventist.


In my early 20’s, I started playing for industry artists and by the time I was in my mid 20’s I was sharing the stage with world renowned artists like The Weeknd, Keshia Chante, Omarion, and countless others.

More recently, I’ve worked with Kelela, Kaya Stewart, and I’m currently the band leader for Queen Naija.


We were supposed to be on the road with Jhene Aiko, but because of Covid it has been postponed.


We’ve performed at events like Roots Picnic, Bet Experience, Tidal X, Wildin Out, and many others while touring.


I also had the pleasure of producing her hit song “War Cry”.

How would you describe your style/sound of music?

Over the years of playing in church and lifting pianists like Oscar Peterson, and Bill Evans, my style and sound have become RnB, Jazz, Gospel, Nat King Cole meets Steve Wonder meets D’angelo.

I’m also a composer and recently worked on an award winning Short Film that was running in several film festivals in the UK.


So, when it comes to emotional music I tend to write and play very theatrically.

Tell us some more about NWJ Living Room Sessions?

In 2018, I was impressed to showcase some of the local artists I had been working with over the years.


So, I came up with the idea to record the sessions in my living room.

Since then, it has grown with artists, musicians and viewers expressing their anticipation for more sessions.


Because of this, and my prior endeavor to help my peers, I have now started my own Label named UndrGrnd Records.

It's soul purpose is to empower the artists and give them opportunities to express their music and visions the way they receive them and to get the highest payouts from their projects as possible.


This is a very unconventional approach to artist management but it is long past due to reform the music industry.


So, I’m going to do my part to fight for the musicians and artists that sacrifice their lives and sometimes their families for music that these labels treat like a bruised apple at the grocery store. (sorry for the talent, very frustrated about that particular subject).

The event side of the Living Room Sessions will be a live concert called City UndrGrnd where the artists that were showcased on the the Living Room Sessions will have a night perform the upcoming and newly released music for their peers.


City UndrGrnd will be held in various cities across the US and Canada.

Do you have anything new or upcoming we can expect to see from you?

I just recorded my most recent LRS this month and I began its weekly releases on August 16th, 2020.


It will premiere on Youtube.

I’m also a recording artist myself and I am currently finishing my upcoming project that will be released on New Years Eve.


The record will have various musicians and artists from both Los Angeles and my native home town Toronto.


I also have a lot of merch that will be available early August. Living Room Sessions event "City UndrGrnd" will also be happening on August 22nd.


Make sure to follow @cityundrgrnd for more details.

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