Nate Harar is the singular force behind Brooklyn band Dalton. What he created is low-fi pop at its best. Here is my interview with Nate concerning his inspirations, how it feels to be the only musician in the band, and the story behind his self-titled EP cover.
Dalton is a solo project where one person plays all the instruments, correct?
Yeah, I played everything on the EP.
What inspired you to create a band? Do you mind being the only contributing member? What are the perks of working alone vs. with other musicians? Is it possible you’ll work with other musicians in the future?
I’ve been in bands all my life, since the 6 th grade. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. When my last band (Sugar, It’s Eli) ended, I took some time off but still wanted to make music. Since I didn’t really have anyone else to play with, I just started recording some songs in my apartment by myself. I started sending a couple of the demos around to some music blogs and got a good response, so I decided to take what I felt were the best ones and put them out as my debut EP.
So the whole “solo artist” thing was more a necessity than a real decision on my behalf. I wanted to make music but didn’t have a band so I had to do it alone. I definitely want to play with other people and love being in a band. I’m actually rehearsing with a couple guys right now, trying to put together a live show. As nice as it is to have the creative control when writing and recording a song, you still miss the camaraderie and creative collaboration of playing with a bunch of guys, in a room, trying to make it work. So I guess I’m just going about it backwards. I made an album and am now trying to start a band.
Who/what are your inspirations, both musically and non-musically?
I have a ton of musical inspirations, but if I had to break it down to the bare essentials they would probably be David Bowie, Nirvana and Blur. Those three artists really have stuck with me the most. Nirvana was the first band I was ever obsessed with. It’s all I would listen to through grade school. And David Bowie is king for me. The way each album has a totally different feel and sound but still remains to sound like David Bowie is incredible. And as someone who doesn’t want to limit myself to one genre, his career is like a blueprint for me.
There are also other bands like Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel and Arcade Fire that I’m really into. Gomez has been one of my favorite bands for a long time. I just love how eclectic their music is.
I like to think I have all these musical influences stored in the back of my mind. And it can be from a band I love to a random song I heard on the radio. I feel everything you hear sticks to you and goes into your unconscious. And when I write I feel like every song that I’ve heard has a little say in what the music sounds like. And so all of these bands and songs that I love come out in my songwriting.
Can you describe your song-writing process?
Songwriting for me is not really a process. I wish I could just sit down and say “I’m going to write a song today” and hammer something out. Whenever I try to do that it never happens and I end up just getting frustrated. It’s much more random than that. I pretty much just mess around on guitar and hope to stumble upon something, like a riff or a chord change that sounds interesting. When that happens you just try to flesh out the idea and play what you naturally think would come next.
I’ve also found that the best songs are the ones written in 10 minutes or less. Those are the ones that come out of you and sound so natural that you think, “I hope nobody’s written this before”. Usually if you’re struggling with a song for a long time, it’s not worth it.
What’s the story behind your EP cover?
The cover is actually of me in around 1991 posing for my first team soccer photo. I found the picture randomly while cleaning out my room so I scanned it to put on my computer, but for some reason it scanned incorrectly and cut off the top of my face just below my eyes. I thought it looked pretty creepy and cool, so I decided to use it as my EP cover
I love the track “Breaker” on your self-titled EP. What inspired you to write that song?When I started to write that song all I had was that opening guitar riff but I didn’t have anything else. So whenever I would play guitar I would mess around with that riff and play it over and over again but could come up with nothing. But I knew the riff was pretty catchy and I didn’t want to just ditch the whole song altogether, so I decided to record the riff over and over again and come up with the rest of the song as I was recording. I’m really impatient like that when it comes to songs. When I think I have a good idea I want to record the song immediately and finish it as fast as possible.
What is the track you’re most proud of so far?
I wrote the song “Shut Up and Listen” way back in high school and that seems to be the song that has survived all this time and the one people really seem to like. Plus the fact that I’ve played it so many times and am still not sick of it helps. The fact that it’s never had a proper release after all these years is why I included it on the EP. I think it still holds up.
Is there a full-length LP in the works?
I hope so. I’m releasing this EP independently in the hopes of recording a full album down the line. This is like my “demo” for all of the indie labels out there. I’m happy with how it’s been received so far. My plan is to focus now on playing shows and getting the word out. Whether it’s on a label or independently there will definitely be a full-length LP sometime in the future.
Awesome, I can’t wait!
For more info on Dalton, click here.