We Come in Pieces is out now!
Image: Amber Day.
Last week, British musician Nathan Day unveiled his hotly anticipated debut solo EP, We Come in Pieces. We caught up with the former Darlia frontman to chat about the release, taking full creative control, his dream to work with Grimes and so much more!
Could you tell us a bit about how you began your musical journey, and your background in music?
I’ve just always been obsessed with it like nothing else. It started like the equivalent of drawing on tables at school, anything that can make a noise, I will make a noise out of it.
And then I got obsessed with songs. So I’ve been making them and hoarding them like a magpie ever since.
I started a band when I was about 17, and we toured loads of places that I’d never get the chance to go otherwise, which was beautiful. I actually had to get a passport and ID because we were booked in Australia.
Congratulations on your debut solo EP We Come in Pieces! The EP documents your own mental health, exploring the concepts of imaginary friends. What prompted you to use this collection of songs to document these themes?
Thanks! It really just happened by itself, at the time all I knew was I literally just needed to get out of everything. Like I wanted to delete my entire existence and start again. And I’d just stopped drinking for the first time so I was confused and annoyed for no reason, and all these things were popping up into my head from different angles. It was like everything I was avoiding in my head just knocked at my door and said “Hi, now it’s time to deal with it”. I knew that I had about 6 days to record as much as possible before I had to find somewhere else to live so I thought I’d go to town and make an actual body of work.
The EP is so personal and emotive, showcasing your own life and thoughts to the world. Were there any moments throughout creating the songs you found to be particularly difficult, or did you find creating the EP to be more cathartic?
Everything at the time was like whackamole but with actual problems. I’m not exaggerating, I literally had a bed and a Mac and less than a week and no idea what would happen next. I loved it but I was terrified. Because I think if you break, you weren’t built for it. But I was already broken, so I was just smiling and carrying on like Jim Carrey. The most cathartic and liberating thing was just carrying on. No matter what was going wrong, I just carried on. And I cannot emphasise this enough. So fucking much was going wrong.
The visuals further help to expand the world created on the EP. Talk us through your process when it comes to conceptualising the music videos and imagery, and how involved you are with the development of the visuals for We Come in Pieces...
For all of it, when I was recording or writing it, the visuals were just there. I could see every single scene down to a T of the music videos, while I was either writing / recording or listening back to each song. So from there, the next chapter immediately becomes “How do I get this from my head onto the screen in front of me?”
It’s like an entire campaign of GTA 5 side missions to accomplish this, and I love it. I have done single handedly the most truly random things in my life to get these videos done. And so has my brother who helped me, like a champion. He’d be getting escorted into an electric closing gated alleyway to pick up a mannequin from a complete stranger 20 miles away, while I was holding my phone next to Google Translate audio playback button having full conversations with a German company trying to get them to rent me their shops only rabbit mascot.
I’ve rambled BUT for example with She Came Down From The Stars, I decided the camera I wanted to use, I searched online for someone who was selling or renting theirs out nearby - and I just emailed him to ask if he can just film a music video. And then I just sent about 6000 emails trying to get ahold of all the props I needed, and drove around at night with my brother to find roads and locations that matched what was in my head.
I only learnt how to use Premiere Pro in order to make the SCDFTS music video. And then I learnt Davinci Resolve for the Friends music video. So I just do whatever has to be done to get it in front of me.
Could you run us through your creative process when writing and recording this collection of songs?
For these songs, as mentioned previously, my life was like a bargain bucket version of Donnie Darko. Rather than a jet engine coming through my roof, my roof was coming through my roof. So my approach was different. I just had to do it all as fast as possible. But I liked it, because I didn’t spend 6 months fine tuning the frequencies of a synth. I literally just did things until I liked it and then moved onto the next one. And also, Garage Band is spectacular. I’m used to Logic Pro X, but you can spend 45 minutes trying to EQ out the sound of a fly from 6 miles away, whereas Garage Band just holds your hand a bit. Which is what I needed. Thanks Garage Band, I love you.
Normally I’ll do vocal and guitar takes bordering on thousands of times because I’m actually an ultra perfectionist. But with these it was essentially just the first take, or I’d press record not really knowing what I was about to play.
You wrote, produced and recorded the EP entirely yourself. What do you find are the advantages of having that control over your own music?
The advantages are you’re not butting heads with someone else for no reason. I’m always completely 100% up for trying anything, and I welcome it. But if I feel like someone’s suggestion is just out of ego, I can’t be bothered. I’ll still try it but we’ll be wasting time. And since I have minus ego, I know I’m just gonna try and make it sound good.
What’s the most important thing you learned about producing your own music whilst making this record?
Definitely that you should just DO it. It’s so so so easy to say, I know, but it reminded me that crawling forwards is still moving forwards. And it’s better than sitting back and wishing you were further. Obviously there is a balance, and I will hopefully find it.
How do you find it differs writing and recording in a band environment with Darlia vs solo?
To be honest, it’s not that different. With a band set up, you have limitations. But they can be glorious. Because if you want more sounds than guitar bass and drums, you either have 89 members on stage playing intricate parts on random instruments and thousands of cables, or a backing track playing those random sounds. With this, I’m just not worrying about anything. I’m still writing the theme tune, and singing the theme tune. I want to find a balance though.
What messages do you hope listeners take away from We Come in Pieces?
I’ve laced the entire thing. I promise you that if you look, you will probably find it.
If We Come in Pieces was a piece of pre-existing visual art (painting, sculpture, photograph etc), which artwork would it be and why?
The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch. Because there’s loads going on, some is dark, and there’s a couple holes in it.
Which song off We Come in Pieces would you pick to play to someone who had never heard your music, to make them an instant fan?
Hmm I’d probably pick Run On Empty. I really like the guitar lines in the verses.
What’s one line from the EP you find at times could be stuck in your head? Or a line that you come back to?
There’s a break in Ghost Town which I keep finding myself singing along to in my head while I’m getting changed.
Will fans be able to catch you on stage anytime soon, and what can audiences expect from a Nathan Day live show?
YES. I don’t know when but it’d be rude not to. You can expect me stood on stage wondering what’s going on and probably a lot of GTA side mission vibes
Hopefully we’ll see you perform on Australian stages soon!
I genuinely still think about what happened the first time..
Elon Musk. Actually PLEASE tag Grimes in this interview when it’s posted. Genuinely. Grimes I have a song for us <3
Album that has had the most impact on you?
Jolene by Dolly Parton
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Best song of 2021 so far?
Miley Cyrus’ cover of Zombie. So good it transcended from 2020 into this year.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
Donnie Darko 3
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
What was the first song you loved to sing?
Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver
A song you would love to cover on tour?
Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Never for Ever by Kate Bush. I only know a few songs though.
First concert you went to?
My own. I’m sorry but it’s true.
Best concert you have been to?
I saw Brian Jonestown Massacre when we played Reading & Leads. It was golden.
First album you ever bought?
2 for 1 closing sale at HMV - Oasis Definitely Maybe & The Libertines self titled album: The Libertines
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?
Oh my god I love you so much. SPICE BOY.
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your spice nickname be?
I actually love you. SCAREDY SPICE X LAIDLEYS WALK = SCAREDY WALK. Which is actually what I do down Laidleys Walk.
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Not just saying this, but Splendour In The Grass in Australia. I have a video about it on my Instagram if you feel like cringing. And my voice is weird because I have headphones on which just adds to it.
Guilty music pleasure?
Seagulls at 6am. (Laidleys Walk)
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
I’m gonna say Grimes again to try and get you to tag her so she sees what I said before.
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
Don’t Stop Believin’ by Journey
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
When I literally hit an acoustic guitar and heard “Joy to the world, the teachers dead” by Nelson from The Simpsons.