RouteNote Interviews: Nate Maingard

Photography credit: Sam Garrett

Nate Maingard is a modern troubadour originally from South Africa who tells tales through his music. A man of the globe taking inspiration from the earth through his own eyes and channeling that into his voice and guitar.
With a new album coming later this year we managed to get the nomadic singer-songwriter to talk to us a bit about his life as a musician and traveller.

How did you first get into music?

I come from a very musical family. My dad was trained in music from the age of 4, his mom was a concert pianist and my ancient ancestor was Aimeric De Peguilhan, one of the great French troubadours of the 13th century!

Growing up, my dad and mom listened to great music from many genres, with a definite focus on the singer-songwriters and incredible bands of the 60’s and 70’s.

What really grabbed me was the lyrics, the stories being told in just a few words. Songs like Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (Beatles), Sad Lisa (Cat Stevens), Black Dog (Led Zeppelin), Suzanne (Leonard Cohen), etc., really spoke to something deep in me.

Surprisingly, I only picked up a guitar when I was 14, thanks to my best friend Heyn starting lessons at school (especially surprising as my dad Marc Maingard, is one of the top guitar makes in the world). I immediately began songwriting and the rest, as they say, is historical.

You’ve travelled quite a bit over your life, are there any experiences or countries that stood out the most for you?

Arriving in San Francisco at midnight on a Sunday with $100 to my name and meeting some wandering monks on the quiet harbour-side is definitely an experience I will always remember and treasure.

Nate Maingard
Photography credit: Virginia Vivi Vitalone

Your latest album ‘The Wild Land’ is great. Was there any particular inspiration for it and how was recording the album?

That’s actually my first album, I just didn’t have it up online – hah!

I recorded it in 2011 in a friend of a friend of a friends underground home studio. Each track was one full take, no remixing, no cuts, just each song played all the way through until I got it right. The title track, The Wild Land, was actually recorded with the studio door open, and it was just the first test to make sure we had the sound right. It turned out being such a passionate take that we went with it as the final version for the album!

I was, and still am, inspired by the experience of being human. Falling in love, searching for meaning in life, feeling confused, feeling inspired, breaking hearts, being heartbroken… you know, all those archetypal things we all go through.

Being a troubadour sounds like a fascinating and rich lifestyle, how did you get into it?

Like I said, it’s in my blood. The idea of being a nomad, storyteller and musician has always appealed to me (probably fuelled by my dad’s stories of his nomadic youth).  I’m fascinated by the power of language (a limited tool with which we attempt to describe the impossible, miraculous reality in which we find ourselves), and so being a storyteller, a traveller and a songwriter gives me the opportunity to dive deeper into the experience of living.

It just came naturally, is what I’m trying to say, hah!

If you could collaborate with any musician, past or present, who would you choose?

The Universe, which made the sound of Aum (the same sound we chant with while meditating) when it first came into existence. I’d be pretty stoked to harmonise on that note, ya know!?

If you weren’t playing music what do you imagine you would be doing, do you think you’d still be travelling nomadically?

I’d still be a nomadic storyteller, almost certainly. I tell people that I am not a musician, I’m a storyteller who happens to tell some stories through song.

Nate Maingard
Photography credit: Tom Jeavons

Do you have a personal favourite track out of the songs you’ve written?

They all have moments where they’re my favourites. A current favourite (it really does change, sometimes daily) is Lovers In The Morning Light, which is a gentle romance celebrating the vulnerable and sensual lovemaking shared between the sheets in the early morning (as I guess the name implies, hah).

What are your plans for the next year?

Show in the UK, travels around the USA, a conference or two, touring and festivals in South Africa later this year, recording my next album/EP.

What advice would you give to any aspiring musicians and artists?

Realise that as soon as you ask someone to pay for your music, a show, some merch or anything else, you are running a business. Either you educate and empower yourself about what that means and how to make use of it, or you don’t and you run your business badly (and then bitch about how no-one is buying your music).

Educate yourself, take action, remain humble, have fun and keep going!


Listen to Nate’s newest track ‘It’s the Little Things’ and his two albums on Spotify here:

Nate Maingard

Facebook – www.facebook.com/natemaingard

SoundCloud – soundcloud.com/natemaingard

YouTube – youtube.com/natemaingard

Twitter – twitter.com/natemaingard

If you want to support Nate you can head to his Patreon page here: patreon.com/natemaingard

Writing about music, listening to music, and occasionally playing music.

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