Swimming in the Seine, drinking Pastis all day, staying in bed with girls and occasionally making music. Nathan Roche, a young writer/musician from Australia now based in Paris, is living the (French) dream. Sounds good to you? Let's find out what this adopted French Oz is all about!
It seems that Nathan Roche is adjusting well to the Parisian lifestyle; the food is sublime and it's surprisingly cheaper than living in Sydney. Oh and he already knows that the Bar-Tabac is the young Parisian's favourite cheap boozer! But before Paris, Nathan was in Australia playing in dead-beat bands producing the more, shall we say, difficult to listen to records, playing in various pop outfits such as Marf Loth and Nathan Roche & The Wentworth-Avenue Breeze-Out. What a name though, right? The experiences eventually led to Watch It Wharf, Nathan's first solo album.
The first release has ten absolute golden nuggets in what can only be described as an extraordinarily pop and hooks driven record. The voice is like a slower and deeper Lawrence from Felt, but with a great deal more groove. In fact, it’s what Beat Happening sound like on a happy day, or Talking Heads before David Byrne went all Windows 95 (I could go on…Denim or Go Kart Mozart). It’s inspired by the synth of the 80's but avoids the clichés of the era. Watch It Wharf is the perfect and easy introduction to Nathan's work. It is his more contemporary approach to producing a record. Simply put, it’s fresh. A song like Serafina or When I Come Around both demonstrate the 80’s point made earlier, but then other tracks seem to take up from where the 60’s left off. The opener, Nowhere You’ll Know, with moog vibes and bouncing rhythm are probably what the Rolling Stones would sound like today if they were young, full of beans and on a party bender in the French capital too. Nathan does not restrict himself to one particular style or genre, and that's the sign of a good artist. The record ends with the rather spiritual song What Did You Do With All The Roses, a simple song with simple chord progressions and harmonies, but which portrays yet another layer of versatility to the Roche style.
"We commence work first thing in the morning at the desk like knitters in a sweatshop".
Next to Townsville there is a magic place called Magnetic. It's an extremely relaxing island which is perfect for those quiet moments in the sun spent staring at the sea. The island inspired Nathan's second outing, Magnetic Memories. It’s an ambitious record in the way that it utilised more equipment and sees a change of genre towards a more experimental sound, though it still remains very accessible.
Compared to the first record, Magnetic Memories offers a weirder, more drugged choice of tune with standout tracks such as Amedee, Magnetic Memories and Stairs. Furthermore, the latter has a Syd Barrett vibe to it, and that has to be, in our opinion, a rather audacious attempt. Then again, any record which on the one hand is a club scene filled with synth and bounce bass, such as the track Hollywood, which then goes the complete opposite direction with a 2 chord song about Alcoholics Anonymous, it would see, in our books anyway, that the audacity paid off. Though the first record is perhaps more popular, Magnetic Memories might be Nathan's most complex and best work to date.
Nathan is now based in Paris, a city he fell in love with in 2014 when he was touring with one of his earlier projects. He met a crazy kid with whom he discovered Paris' best secret hotspots, and from there had the opportunity to stay. Besides drinking Pastis and swimming in the Seine at night, Nathan has since worked on his third record, Cathedral Made Outta Green Card. There are moments of genius within the album. Take the eponymous opening track, Go Tell The Canal or Breakdown, they are all songs which have progressed within Nathan’s distinct style of music, however the record can be more difficult to listen to, especially without occasionally thinking “whaaaaat the fuck”? Nathan sees the album as a mistake, a mistake you sometimes need to make in order to move on and grow. However in all reality, it’s not a bad effort at all. Call it Strokes’ Angles or Oasis’ Be Here Now.
"Here’s a guy with more talent than the majority put together taking a night time dip in the river Seine. That’s what it’s about".
Nathan represents a new generation of artists who don't necessarily play by the rules. Watch It Wharf and Magnetic Memories could have easily been released on a record label, and Nathan could be tweeting and retweeting all day promoting his music. But he isn’t, and how cool is that? It seems every band in the world is itching to make it famous, and here’s a guy with more talent than the majority of them put together taking a night time dip in the river Seine. That’s what it’s about. Of course it's a tough job at times, and it takes time to make records, and time is the issue. When Nathan released his first record, it was completed extremely quickly and it reached people without a label. And so he carried on. But even Nathan knows it doesn’t always work like that.
There might be thousands of Nathans in the world making music, but this one has certainly learnt the most important lesson whilst living in Paris; that a little 'Je Ne Sais Rock ‘n’ Roll Quoi' makes all the difference. What do you think?
Follow here for the full interview
Nathan Roche 9/10