An Interview With THATS NOKAY
Very rarely do we get a chance to hear an album that has the ability to bend genres to its will and create completely different atmospheres with each new track but still have everything feel confluent and lush.
The new album release from THATS NOKAY is absolutely massive and takes you for a multitude of musical Journeys through beautifully layered and connective textures that balance each other out and build a soundscape that you can drift away with at any point in time.
The Radical Presence album is packed with not only inventive and slightly envelope pushing songwriting approaches, but it also has personality and character laced through it.
You get such a great play on this slightly psychedelic and experimental brand of indie pop that seamlessly floats in and out of a shoegaze feel but still has the ability to get edgy when it needs to.
One of the best things about this album is that you don't really know what to expect next, but you know it's going to be very interesting.
The use of sense and keys across the board is absolutely phenomenal and the way that you can become entranced with the vibes and feels of this release is pretty intense.
The record is engulfing and endlessly intriguing as it boasts this personal allure built with melodies that let you get washed away with everything.
There's almost always this very full-bodied but ambient tonality to the songs and you get the sense of person or character that this artist is portraying throughout it all.
To be able to communicate that in such a unique way is what makes this record so incredibly appealing.
What really gets me is how robust the record can be and how things at times can feel scattered drifting about in spaces of the song that would otherwise be empty but how it all manages to come together like pieces of a puzzle.
The other thing about this album is that you can really get a good feel for the amount of heart that went into it and the absolute pure love for the craft that this artist has for what he does.
THATS NOKAY is Beyond in love with the song writing and the recording process and when you listen to some of these songs you get the feeling of someone sitting up there recording studio doing their thing through the night and still not stopping even when the sun starts coming up.
A wonderful sense of a personal space and inner self definitely comes through and has a way of sticking with you even after the album is done.
This is one to listen to with headphones and all the way through from beginning to end. This is the best way to soak this album in, and this was meant to be soaked in.
With such an element of fantasy embedded in a vast Indie pop and alternative release, we wanted to have a sit down with THATS NOKAY to talk about where this actually came from and what might be coming up next for the artist.
Here's what happened.
Buzz Slayers: Okay, let's start with the Radical Presence album. This had such a cross over set of genres and styles! How did this record come about?
I had been doing the indie rock band thing for quite a long time in various forms, about 20 years. At the same time I had a long held love for hip hop, but had no understanding of how to produce beats. In my mind at that time, as a guitar player, it all seemed completely foreign to me and beyond my expertise. When the pandemic hit, Apple lowered their price of Logic, and I decided it was finally time to take the plunge and see if I could figure it out. Some generous friends gave me pointers and some drum kits to download and I was off and running. Learning to make beats opened up a whole new path to me that was not there before. Soon, I was collaborating and releasing instrumental beat tapes. While I was readying a beat tape for release, the melodies in the instrumentals began to speak another message to me and provoked an emotional response within me. They weren’t meant to be instrumentals but actual songs. I decided it was best to listen to that message and held the tracks back and began the writing to them. A few years later after much trial and error, I had 12 songs written and recorded completely on my own.
Buzz Slayers: How did this all start for you as an artist? When did you really fall in love with music?
There have been a few times over the years. I loved music from an early age. I used to go crazy dancing to “Cover Me” by Bruce Springsteen around 3 years old. I would say I fell in love with it in a deeper way around 6th grade when R.E.M., Nirvana, Weezer, Bush were big on alternative radio. At the same time I loved Warren G, Dr. Dre and Tupac. When I began collecting vinyl around 19, listening to more of the classics and going to small DIY shows seeing artists like The Blood Brothers for the first time, I would say that was another level. Then a few years ago though the process of learning to produce beats, I fell in love with it in a different way yet again. My appreciation for it grew deeper than ever before. And after two years of being unable to perform live or go to shows, I could no longer take it for granted.
Buzz Slayers: What kind of things really inspire songs for you?
The songs on Radical Presence were inspired by so many things it is difficult to articulate. A lot of the songs I would just sing whatever came out of my mouth in the moment and then refine it. However I was feeling that day, that’s in there. In 2020 we experienced a seismic shift that everyone in the world felt to some degree. There was a major paradigm shift and we all had to adjust, grow and learn. A lot of that process of trying to get towards a more even plane to stand on inspired these songs.
Buzz Slayers: This album has some great styles on it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically?
My musical influences run a wide range, I enjoy most genres. On this album I focused on combining the influence I took from my favorite hip hop producers Dr. Dre, Q-Tip, Yasiin Bey amongst many others with a reverb-ed out shoegaze vibe influenced by bands like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine. I took those two disparate ideas and combined that with experimental ideas that Boards of Canada, How To Dress Well, Blood Orange, Shabazz Palaces and others imparted upon me to come up with my own sound.
Buzz Slayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
There is time outside of music? (Lol jk) I animate and work on making videos during the day, I spend time with my best friend Eddie, I love basketball and spending time in nature.
Buzz Slayers: Who's in your headphones right now?
Little Simz “No Thank You”
Caroline Polachek “Desire I Want To Turn Into You”
Young Fathers “Heavy Heavy”
Lil Yachty “Lets Start Here”
Buzz Slayers: Are you doing any live performances right now?
I have a couple of shows planned around the album release. March 2nd I will be at Tony Vs Garage in Everett with Waterpenny and Woodbae & Treestar. Then my album release party is March 3rd at the Central Saloon, and the lineup is truly stacked. Dark Sparkler, Woodbae & Treestar, Evictions and Rap Ghost have all agreed to help me celebrate the release at one of Seattle’s most historic venues, where Nirvana, Sonic Youth and many others once played.
Buzz Slayers: Did you record yourself or hit a big studio for this?
I recorded Radical Presence completely myself, at home and at my practice space. Some of my friends helped out listening to mixes and giving some notes, and it was mastered by Rachel Field at Resonant Audio. Aside from that, it was a completely DIY affair.
Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
Performing as much as I am able, wherever I can to promote this album. Lots of songs percolating in the background at the moment and to be recorded. More experimental music, I want to make ambient music as well. And a really dope collaboration with my friends Woodbae and Treestar dropping pretty soon, in March I believe. They have serious bars on it.
Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
Much love & respect to everyone who has supported this project in any capacity. After a couple of years of not being able to get out there and play gigs, I genuinely appreciate anyone who has come out to a show or checked out a song. That support has kept me going. Also, I hope that this story can serve as a bit of inspiration to anyone out there who is pursuing a dream or goal (that might feel like you have bit off more than you can chew at times) that it can be done, just keep pushing and believing.