Nathan Cavaleri was playing guitar on Hey, Hey It’s Saturday at just age 8 and before long was signed his first record deal, touring with Barnes and Diesel. At age 12 the young artist was basically a veteran; after a world tour, he befriended blues legend B.B King and one year later, signed with Jackson’s MJJ Records, who released his first US album.
What is the worse advice you’ve ever been given?
To give up guitar, throw it away, it’s never going to be back in fashion. This advice was given to me by my mentor in 2001 when grunge was well and truly gone, when rock was pop. That was definitely the worse advice I’ve ever been given. I actually took it in, it’s amazing what the subconscious does, it tripped me up for a while.
When on tour, what are some things that you do to prevent and alleviate anxiety?
I like to set myself anchors points, I find that the worse time to try and work out what to do is in the heat of the moment. I like to ponder, sit in silence and allow the dust to settle. And what I mean by anchor points, I mean thoughts or rather reminders of the fundamentals of what I’m doing and why. Self awareness is an incredible thing; catch yourself, breath and re-align. I also keep a folder in Evernote of all my accomplishments, it’s really handy to draw some inspiration from when I need it. So when I am swept, I can go to this list and it’s like “oh man this doesn’t even compare to what I did 2 weeks ago, what am I stressing about?”
From your experiences, how much work is too much work? At what point do you realise enough is enough?
I’ve got a really strong work ethic, so it takes me a lot to topple but in moments when I feel like I’m paddling up stream and everything is against me - is when I take a step back and figure out what’s going wrong. I did the complete opposite for years, it was the one thing that contributed to my burn out. I ignored all logic and warning signs that I was travelling in the wrong direction.
How do you break up your time?
As a result of burning out, I’ve become really strict with my time. Maybe too strict, I’ve only started to be more relaxed as I gain a little more trust in my body and in my mind. No phone time in the morning’s, I have breakfast with my family, go for a walk along the water and meditate (if I can). Come 9am is when I start checking emails and get working in the studio. I try to set little breaks but the curse is, when you get to do what you love to do for a living, you forget to take breaks. So I have a little timer on my laptop that reminds me to take these breaks - take a quick walk around the block, get the body moving. At night, I don’t check emails after 6pm, especially with two kids. They will let you know when you’re not paying any attention, in fact they will rip you apart.
And how old are the kids?
4 and 14 months.
Wow, you’re definitely losing some sleep.
Yeah! Well the upside to having years of insomnia was that I learnt how to function on little sleep, so it wasn’t much of a shock.
How do you find your tribe?
You have to project what you want out of life and the people compatible to you, will naturally gravitate towards you. There’s almost a cosmic way in the way that it happens, if I look at the team that I have at the moment, they only really came together after being specific in what I needed in the beginning.
Why have you chosen to go solo?
Nat Coleman and the Kings ended because I burnt out, when this happened I couldn’t stop thinking about what Ash Grunwald said to me. He said, “I don’t think you realise the weight of your name and the power it has. It’ll take years as a band to get that.”
At that point, I didn’t think I could play music again but when I did, I enjoyed the solitude and not having to run through anything with anybody. I also like the idea that you can’t “break up with yourself”, I can do this until the day I die.
What is the meaning behind demons?
Demons was written retrospectively when I was in a dark place, reflecting my past self; physical and mental. All this time, the qualities that I had taken for granted, I needed to appreciate to move on. It’s carved me a path and allowed me to set goals.
How do you stand out in today’s saturated market of Spotify/Instagram artists?
There’s always a place for good music that reflects the true human experience. As long as people have feelings and replicate those feelings into stories, there’ll always be a place for it. But the market is saturated, to be a musician these days - you can’t just be a musician, you need to know how to record yourself, how to take good photos of yourself, how to be your own PR - all these things you gotta do and very little of it has to do with playing the music. But I definitely like this direct approach without the middle man. When I was burnt out I could play music online to my fans, without the approval from anyone, and bit by bit it gave me more motivation. For an artist, it’s a great time to be true to you - that’s why we see artists who are thinking outside the box and producing great work.