BWW Interview: Nathan Sharp: YouTube Star and his New Album, SANDCASTLE KINGDOMS
Nathan Sharp started his career desiring to pursue Top 40 music. Along the way, he took some detours that lead him to create his own YouTube channel, natewantstobattle. As his popularity soared, so did his creativity and originality. His YouTube channel has over 1.2 million subscribers who enjoy his music and creativity. Nathan's newest album is "Sandcastle Kingdoms." The music is a departure from his usual covers and nods to video games. As Sharp chatted with BWW, he discussed how he ended up creating his own YouTube channel and how his fans have come along for the ride.
What inspired you to create your own YouTube channel and what inspired you to create songs based on video games?
With the music starting with video games, at the time, that was kind of a side project. I had a lot of interest in pursuing a lot of top 40 stuff. I was doing covers like Maroon 5, Andy Grammer, a lot of stuff along those lines along side of it. Then one day I was in the car and "Payphone" by Maroon 5 was on the radio. And I just got a silly idea. Well, what if were about a video game? I kind of thought of lyrics and I posted it on what, at the time was my side channel, which was natewantstobattle because I didn't deem that as, quote unquote serious music. I was like, "Oh, this is just for fun. This is a goofy little idea." That ended up getting a lot of attention. A lot of people seemed to enjoy it. I had a great time doing it. So, I'm like, "OK, I can keep doing this." And that's a longer story short, that's how everything led up to this.
A lot of the songs that you've written are actually about video games but one of the things that I noticed is that a lot of the songs have a different meaning to me. They may be about video games in particular, but they don't necessarily have to be games one I familiar with. The song "Unaligned" comes to mind. Had you considered the idea that people listen to the music who may not be familiar with the games? What are your thoughts on that?
That was something that was very intentional down the road. I started writing original music about certain games that, yes, they were video games but at least, to me, the held a deeper meaning. A lot of them were very emotional games or scarier video games so they had a lot to do with feelings. I felt that again, even though this is a game, I don't need to get too specific but, at the same time, it does have a message. Like you said, "Unaligned," it is definitely one of those songs that resonates as well as one particular song I have called, "Nightmare." A lot of kids relate to (it). This relates to the game but it's about kids who are lost. They felt that their souls are in a rough place. That's something that resonated with me when I ran into a lot of the games. That's something that a lot of people relate to. That was definitely something that I wanted to convey regardless if you played the game or not. It's something you can still find some meaning in.
Let's talk about your new album now, "Sandcastle Kingdoms." It's your first full-length album of original songs. How did your fans react to this new album? They aren't really all based on video games are they?
No they're not. At most, a couple of them may have a few nods to video games, but everything was less about gaming and more just about real life events. Things I felt worthy of a song that weren't in any other form of entertainment. The fans were very supportive which I was a little bit scared about before I released the album because you build up a huge following doing one thing and a lot of times you see when an artist is like, "OK, I'm going to do something else." People will turn away from that. People might resent it. They are, "I like you for this thing so that's all I want from you." But, I was fortunate enough to have very supportive fans at either were A - all in favor or completely supportive of it or B - "I'll just go past this album but I'll keep listening to other stuff you do." So, they've been very supportive. It's been an amazing ride with this album. I'm very happy with how everyone's receiving it.
There is one song on there I particularly enjoyed called, "StopRewind." I've listened to it a lot and watched the video as well. It has an interesting meaning to me, but I wondered what that song is about for you?
"StopRewind" initially was in a part of my creative career where I had a lot of self-doubt. It was kind of about the process of making the album that it's on. I wasn't really sure like how's this gonna be received? Is this really that good? Every kind of creative person has those lows and that was kind of about how I would just get stuck in mental ruts and I would be like, "I don't think this is good. I don't think this is good. I don't think this is going to work." Then I'd come to and I'm like, "No, I'm happy with it." But, I would fall back into it again. It was literally like me stopping and just going back to the beginning and doubt myself and feeling kind of in this cycle. But, all at the same time, having people that do support me and do believe in me. Sometimes you need to rely on those people when you're doubting yourself. You need people who do believe in you and sometimes listen to them over yourself.
Now you are releasing a video for "Heroes Never Die" with a nod to "Overwatch." What can fans expect from this video?
The song, "Heroes Never Die" like you said has its nods to "Overwatch" and overall, it's a song that as far as meaning goes, it's not that it's shallow but it definitely doesn't have the deepest meaning. Everything is on the surface. It was really written with the intent of playing it live, bringing it to the live show, getting everyone excited, getting everybody pumped. It's just a fun party-feel good song. We wanted to convey that as well as having nods to "Overwatch." So, with the video, we actually were lucky enough for a day to clear out a laser tag arena. A lot of us, me and some friends and my band, we went in. We got to perform in a laser tag arena which was crazy. It's something I never thought I'd do as well as film a bunch of action scenes with these laser guns. To me, it was a ton of fun. It was a good time with good friends. My amazing director, I love working with, Mike Lauder, he makes a lot of cool stuff happen. He's the reason we were able to get the location. It's especially meaningful to me because my first job was actually at a laser tag arena. For it to come full-circle like that from where I literally had my beginnings and where it's led up to now, it's really cool to look back. There was actually one employee that was working there, they happened to also be a fan which completely wasn't planned. Got to talking with her a little bit and I was like, "Oh, what do you do? What are your duties around here?" Everything she was saying was like, "That's what I did." It was cool to reflect on that.
And touring is in your future too.
At the moment, we only (had) a couple of tour dates officially booked. For now, we have the Cool and Good Tour which is my headlining with Mandopony and Amalee who are also YouTube based musicians who are all trying to get out there into the real world. We're going to have way more tour dates scattered throughout the year. They'll do a month long run back-to-back. A couple of us have other jobs we work on where we need to be in the area where we can't be away from our home projects too long so we're doing weekend runs throughout the year. We definitely want to get to as much of the U.S. as we can.
Nathan Sharp can be seen and heard on his YouTube Channel natewantstobattle. Also, check out his website Nathan Sharp Online. Keep up with his latest news and see when the video from "Heroes Never Die" is released.