Nate, in her own words
A drifter with the big P word – passion. Music is inevitably work and interest, and I have taken a step further by pursuing electronic music in DJ-ing and production. I am also now a social documentary filmmaker, when the opportunity arises.
Managing artists and Redkite
It all started when Iris Judotter, my singer-songwriter friend approached me to be her manager. I had no clue about the music scene, but slowly picked things up from experience and opportunities. Redkite started after I decided to pursue my own business after ending partnership with Iris. During then, maybe even now, there is a lack of a household name for a place to go to hire live musicians. I wanted to fill that void. I wasn’t someone who knew the music industry well, and I am not a professional musician, so it was harder to build trust and I didn’t have prior knowledge that could help me. It probably took longer than someone who was already in the scene and decided to become and agent, but I eventually got around as the community in Singapore is small and the first musicians I met were very accommodating and helpful.
When asked about her other job, teaching English
I don’t think being an English teacher per se helped me in this area of music in anyway, but I did use these jobs to help me survive until I was relatively stable in my business, as the latter is a volatile trade that doesn’t give you a regular income monthly.
I enjoy music on many levels, and I still like playing the guitar and singing. I still do that on my own for fun, but I did form bands to perform at some charity shows sometimes. At the moment I am concentrating on my journey with electronic music – something I never had the chance to do until time in Berlin – I DJ-ed at parties and a bar there, and I would love to do some gigs here in Singapore too. I like letting people listen what I enjoy myself, and I gain a lot of satisfaction when I mix two tracks well and seamlessly.
From the ashes
Honestly I just wanted to take a break from work, after my accident. I was severely injured from a car accident – severe because the doctor told my family there was a 10% chance of survival – I broke my spine after all. I was burnt out by Redkite at that point and needed to go away and come back with a new perspective on things. And of course, the world didn’t stop, the events I had, the musicians I managed at that time had to continue their work, and I was suddenly off radar, which made many people very curious to why responses were slow, “where’s nate?” “what happened?” etc. My family, especially my brother Ewen who was holding on to my phone, was not in the mental state to react to my work, and so even my staff Ruby was quite befuddled at what was going on. You see, my family did not want to tell anyone the situation because they did not know if I was going to survive. Thanks to my friends and brother, they kept Redkite going. They just made sure that my musicians still showed up at the events scheduled (which nearly didn’t happen) and everything went well. It must have been so hard for them to handle this from knowing nothing at all. And I thought the best way is to study. The accident definitely acted as an impetus. God granted me an entry to this course in Berlin, which I wanted – Visual and Media Anthropology. It deals with seeing life and culture through visuals – film and photography. So it’s very close to documentary-making. I have always been interested in this since my undergraduate days. One thing I knew for sure was that work is not worth “drowning” yourself over. It was a huge step to leave Redkite behind, my family and life behind for 2 years, but it’s the most enriching thing I have ever done. I found time to do my own music (DJ-ing and production) and opened a door to film-making and made valuable lifetime friends from all over the world – Berlin is so much a part of me now, I always want to go back and I will visit when I can.
Up until today I am a jack of all trades and master of none, so I can’t say I know what talent I have to put to good use, so I am still waiting for God to show me His plan.
I had only been to Berlin for 2 nights, but I feel in love with it. Somehow I felt the vibe, the freedom of expression – merely through the graffiti on the streets and derelict buildings that are left to stand and not “cleaned up” for commercial use, gave me a feel of what to expect there. I was right about this gut feel. This discipline is something that I have been intrigued in since my university days. And when I saw they offered this course in a city that I would want to live in, I was sold. My environment in Berlin were mostly internationals, which is a characteristic of people living in Berlin, so I won’t say Germans, but they are definitely more receptive and open to difference. Singaporeans tend to prefer doing the safe route – not a bad thing, as there is security, but they would not receive alternative routes well. I think it’s about which stage of life you are at to experience what, and I think it was timely for me, to have grown up in Singapore, spent a few years of my adulthood in Berlin, and then back to stability in Singapore.
Managing music in Berlin
The scene there is entirely different. Yes there are agents, but there is no market for cover music, not like in Singapore. Therefore, there are more agents or managers that look after a band or singer’s career entirely. The scene is also not lucrative there, because people jump at opportunities to play for free and they are willing to, just to express themselves.
I am not sure if it’s a good thing to pursue so many different channels in life, but I definitely feel more fulfilled doing that. I see my friends change paths at my age too, and I don’t think it’s ever too late to learn new stuff.
Everyone needs to start somewhere. And it is never too late.
The next steps
If opportunities allow, I will want to make more documentaries for the less spoken for people in life. With film I can give a voice that is unheard, debunking stereotypes of people, that includes musicians. My thesis film is on this web community called The Suicide Girls – they are actually a community of tattooed, alternative-looking ladies. Being a tattooed girl myself, I feel that sometimes we get judged by our physical outlook, just because we look deviant. There is just so much more to visuals of a person, their personality, their interests, life stories. This is one. Of course the other I relate a lot to is being part of the LGBT community. There are definitely stereotypes about these personas in society, and people need to know, we are just like everyone else. Oh, and I also want to explore doing more DJ gigs!
I am inspired and motivated to be like Grimes. She writes her songs and plays her set electronically by herself. I usually get inspired by the music people do though, not really through themselves. At the moment I really like Yotto’s work.
Find Nate’s work
For my mixes, please go to https://www.mixcloud.com/schonseven/
I will work on having a public vimeo site soon!
Thank you Nate for your generous and honest sharing.
If you find Nate’s story encouraging and inspiring in anyway, drop me a note and tell me about it. Also, share this article freely with your friends, and peers!