Music industry Masterclass with Nat Powers
Nat Powers is a British music and record producer from Leicester who we had the pleasure of welcoming to BIMM Berlin recently to give our students some hands-on advice about how to successfully navigate their way through the notoriously tough music industry.
Nat began his Masterclass session by discussing his early beginnings in the music industry and explaining how he enrolled in a Music Technology course at college in 2002 and later graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Music. However, it took him ten years of various, often non-music-related jobs until he finally managed to make music his profession.
Nat eventually found his niche primarily working on hip-hop productions, although he stressed that he doesn’t see himself limited to one genre and prefers not to be ‘put in a box’ and labelled as a ‘hip-hop’ producer. After working successfully in the UK, his mum encouraged him to make the move to the US, where he was mentored by rapper Sam Sneed, and doors started to immediately open for him. His US connections have lead to collaborations with a number of hip-hop legends, including Dr Dre, Run DMC, Snoop Dogg, D Double E, and even the Wu-Tang Clan, who he introduced to his mum and drank green tea with!
Nat offered our Berlin students a tonne of advice, encouraging them to try out new things and find their own style:
“Don’t be scared if people tell you that you can’t do something. You can look at the music industry and say ‘Hang on, I can change it. I can manipulate it’. You’ve got to change and break rules, almost every second, because if you don’t, you’ll get left behind. Music changes all the time. The industry changes.”
He also discussed the importance of speaking up for what you believe in:
“The industry is a place where you need to voice your opinions! It is intimidating, but you just need to have the guts to get out there and say what you think. Be real, and be positive.”
Nat then gave some insight into his songwriting process:
“I wanted to be the one-man band that does everything themselves. I tried to find my own signature. When it comes to songwriting, everyone finds their own style. It’s like your fingerprint. When I write, I don’t want to hold back. I have this relationship with the paper when it’s just me and the paper, and I just switch off.”
Nat then went on to play one of his recent drum ‘n’ bass tracks and used it as an example of how important it is to find like-minded people to work with, telling the story of how a rap part was supposed to be the highlight of the song, but he found that he couldn’t work with the singer, so he deleted that part in Logic.
Nat explained that he likes to use samples, but he often samples originals and live recordings, like the trumpets that students could hear in his track. He said when searching for suitable vocalists, he looks for a ‘certain pureness’ in their delivery and approach, and believes it’s important that they feel comfortable both in and outside of the recording booth.
He also stated that taking advice from lecturers and mentors is a good way to become familiar with digital workstations, such as Logic and Cubase.
Students then asked Nat what the strongest influences on his music and artistic development were, and he named Freddie Mercury. He also said that as far as the new generation of musicians goes, he appreciates the work of Kendrick Lamar.
Before heading back to the airport, Nat wished everyone the best of luck with their upcoming projects, and encouraged our students to keep him updated about their music and progress. The Masterclass was such a brilliant session and we’d like to give a huge thanks to Nat for taking time out of his day to visit us.