He’s the man behind Beautiful You, the #1 most requested song on Foxtel channel MAX, the video, perfectly directed and edited by Josef J.Weber…. join with me in this very special interview with Nathan Leigh Jones!
I’m a singer/songwriter/piano player who spends far too much time writing music. I love producing, I love co-writing, and I love travelling… luckily I’m doing all three at the moment. If you’re in Australia, you’ve probably unknowingly heard my voice on TV — I’m currently the promo voice for Nickelodeon and Eleven — but behind the scenes I love jamming it out on the keys and singing up a storm. Nice to meet you!
How would people best describe you and your music?
Think John Mayer meets Savage Garden, with a hint of Beatles pizazz. Lyrically it’s less “baby baby you’re so sexy” and more “I’m gonna make it though this, dammit!”. I tend to write my music in some of my darkest moments, and it always manages to bring me hope and inspiration. So it’s positive piano-powered pop. And apparently it’s brought to you by the letter P.
What got you first interested in music?
Well, my first memories of music weren’t always pleasant. My older brother and sister were forced to attend piano lessons on Saturday mornings, and I was dragged along as a little kid to join in the fun too. It was in a cranky old lady’s house and was boring as hell. I’ve since found out that I only went along because she had some kind of “buy two, get one free” deal going on with my folks. Anyway, I’m glad I had an early kickstart, because that knowledge pushed me into songwriting throughout my teenage years. Since then I’ve been addicted.
Tell us your experience about starting out on the music scene and getting your music noticed…
I cut a rough demo while I was still living in my hometown of Adelaide back in 2004, and entered it into a national music competition. In the end I won the ‘Artist Of The Year’ award, which gave me a great leg up in the local industry. Looking back it’s odd that I won over fellow finalists Bliss n Eso — not sure if that makes any sense whatsoever — but it resulted in the recording of my first record ’10 Letters’ and my first music video. In 2008 I relocated to NYC for a year and learnt a lot more about co-writing and producing, which inspired me to work on my latest record without relying solely on a manager or label. I’m still on the journey and having a blast.
No official tours planned at this stage — I’m taking a little breather as we head into 2012 — but ready to jump back in when the next single arrives. In 2011 I released my album Sooner Or Later and beat my personal best of “most shows in a year”! I owe myself a medal or something. The official launch was at New York City’s iconic live music venue Joe’s Pub, with other shows that followed at Rockwood Music Hall and Duane Park. Back here in Australia I’ve headlined some of my favourite Sydney venues like Slide, The Basement and The Vanguard, along with The Promethean in Adelaide. It’s been a hugely productive year on the live front and I’m looking forward to playing just as many shows in 2012.
What are some of your biggest career goals that you hope to accomplish as an artist?
Hmm. My answer for this is continually changing. Several years ago it would have been to go double platinum with an album and to see my billboard illuminated above the Virgin Megastore in Times Square. Well, that would still be nice, but I’m not sure it’s my goal anymore. That, and the Virgin Megastore in Times Square no longer exists… ha ha. With the advent of all things social media, my greatest satisfaction comes from my music connecting with listeners from around the globe. My latest single Beautiful You has been used for over 15 weddings and civil unions this year, at least that I know of. It’s those kind of numbers that resonate with me on a personal level and inspire me to push my music as far as it can go.
This track is perhaps the most simple and understated song on the album, but it’s probably why people are drawn to it. We all wish we had the right sentiments to explain that weird fuzzy sense of gratitude, and Beautiful You is an effort to communicate that emotion in a song. When recording this track with the live string section in the studio, I definitely got goosebumps and knew there was something special going on. An amazing Christmas present for me was seeing the Beautiful You music video featured on MAX and having it currently stand as the #1 most requested song on the channel. Super excited!
So are there any other singles to be lifted from Sooner Or Later?
I hope so! The album itself has an organic flow where all the tracks really compliment each other in the context of the record, but there are definitely a few singles waiting to have their moment. I love She’s Into You — it was the first track I recorded with Dan Warner (co-writer of Mika’s Grace Kelly) and Lee Levin (drummer for Pink, Kelly Clarkson and Backstreet Boys), and can imagine hearing that one on the radio. Also Who The Hell I Am, Bubblewrap and Sooner Or Later seem to resonate with people online. I have some decisions to make. Help.
Anything else fans can expect from you in the coming months?
Aside from another music video, they can expect whispers of new songs and new recordings! I’ve been writing like a mofo lately. Inspiration is weird, it comes in odd places and at less-than-convenient times. I’m currently trying to move house, have overseas guests staying with me and my poor piano is breaking down, yet exciting new songs are free flowing and begging to be recorded. I want to do a few web concerts in 2012 to showcase these new tracks and get some feedback… sign up to my mailing list and I’ll keep you posted!
Who inspires or influences you to make great music?
Great music inspires me to make great music! A mate put on Kelly Clarkson’s new record in the car yesterday and I was like — yeah, there’s some amazing writing on this! I got home and started jamming straight away. There are also some indie artists making killer music on a limited budget, and that inspires the hell out of me. Brooklyn based popstar Sean Cooney has released an insanely addictive world class record, one of my favourite releases of 2011, and my mates from The Sundance Kids in Adelaide also know how to write a great hit. Nothing like inspiration from friends to keep the creative vibes flowing.
Are there any current musical stars that you highly rate in the industry?
Obsessed with the work of Sara Bareilles. She had the #1 record in America earlier this year and is a judge on one of NBC’s biggest shows, yet a lot of people still have no idea of who she is. If you’ve somehow forgotten her hit “Love Song”, think quirky but slick piano pop with deliciously passionate vocals. A true artist in every sense. I also love Ben Folds, OneRepublic and Mika. And remember Hanson? Discover their latest stuff. Seriously, there’s a whole lot less mmm-bopping these days!
Success, what is the secret?
Do what you love. Don’t do what you don’t love. And do it as well as you can. I think that’s it!
Thanks so much for the interview!
Thank you for being lovers of music! There’s sometimes an assumption that music artists are living some kind of glam existence in their private jets, but in reality it’s a super tough gig that relies on your support — whether you’re with a major label or not. These holidays, get out to a show, stay for the act afterwards, buy their merch and connect with other fans. Music builds happiness, community and love. Kudos to you for being a part of it!
2 thoughts on “Exclusive Interview: Nathan Leigh Jones”
Nathan is without a doubt one of the most gifted human beings alive! I hope everyone listens to Beautiful You. They'll LOVE it AND him within seconds.
A truly down-to-earth, inspiring musician who is looking to make the world better rather than simply collect hot air to pump up an ego. He's a keeper! His amazing attitude comes out in his creations too. That 'Beautiful You' is stunning. Stay true Nathan Leigh Jones, the world needs more of you.