We’ve had our eye on songwriter N. Kerbin for a while, so we were thrilled when he agreed to join us in-studio to perform a few songs for our Movo Session series.
Nate Kerbin is originally from Virginia and is now settled in our neck of the woods: Los Angeles. His songs are rich with intimate guitar work and instrumentation that is full of hidden textures that transport you somewhere familiar yet unfamiliar, something like a radio playing quietly in another room, or the wind in the trees on a late summer night.
His lyrics are a perfect match for these lush, organic soundscapes. They seem to live in that hard-to-reach place in between melancholy, nostalgia, and hopefulness. His 2021 summer singleA Boy and A Man and A Satellite is a great example of his songcraft.
We sat down with Nate to learn a little more about the song, and the man behind the music.
Charles: First of all, want to introduce yourself? How did you come to be writing and performing your own music?
Nate: I’m Nate Kerbin, so obviously the N. Kerbin artist name was the result of alot of creative consideration. In my house growing up in Virginia, there was always music playing. Charlie Parker if my dad had control and The Temptations if my mom did.
Coming from those influences, I started out playing the piano and picked up the trumpet early on. I got a little guitar for my birthday when I was about 12, and that opened the door to songwriting.
It took a long time for me to start feeling like I could take songwriting seriously, but once I did, I haven’t been able to stop. Writing has been a great outlet for me to explore things I have a tough time talking about. And performing has just reinforced that those ideas and feelings aren’t mine alone, which has been a very comforting experience.
Charles: We love the first song you performed for your sessions. Tell us, if you don’t mind, about the inspiration forA Boy and a Man and a Satellite.
Nate: A Boy, and a Man, and a Satellite was one of those songs that just kind of appeared out of thin air. I think it only took a couple hours to come together, from start to finish. I wrote it in the summer of 2020 when the world was fully locked down and nobody had any idea what was going to happen. Like a lot of people, that period of time had me thinking about life and relationships and perspective.
Between that and having to be inside all the time, I was just feeling really nostalgic about being a kid playing catch with my dad. The whole song came out of the feeling of being in the yard as the sun’s going down and begging for just a few more tosses before it was too dark. So it’s basically an ode to fathers and sons built on the memory of a good game of catch.
Charles: Right on. We’ve all been loving the tune as we’ve been putting together your Movo Sessions video. There are some beautiful metaphors in there, and it really resonates with nostalgia and some common experiences from growing up that many of us can connect to. When you write, do you think about how you want the audience to relate to your music, or is it a more personal exercise of expressing something about yourself?
Nate: I try to strike a balance between writing strictly for myself and being relatable. I’ve been guilty of self-absorbed navel-gazing in some of my writing, but at the end of the day, the songs are always very personal. As I’ve grown a bit as a songwriter, I’ve found more ways to express the overlap between the individual and the universal. Finding that sweet spot is definitely a work in progress.
Charles: If you’ll forgive me asking an age-old question: What comes first, music or lyrics, or everything all at once? Does your songwriting process vary from song to song, or do you have a certain approach or formula?
Nate: My songs are almost always music-first. Usually, things start coming together when I’m just noodling on a guitar and something clicks a little. Then I go to my notebook full of random lyric ideas to see if there’s anything that matches the tone of the music. It’s not an intentional order of operations, but that’s how things seem to come together.
Charles: Amen to that. What’s next for N. Kerbin?
I just released a new single called "Still Trying" that can be found anywhere on the internet. I'll have one more single out early next year and then it'll be time to dig in on recording a new album. Other than that, just writing and recording with friends, and playing as much golf as possible of course.
Stay tuned over the next few weeks for more selections for N. Kerbin’s Movo Session performance, and more dispatches from our conversation with Nate about creating, recording, music and more. Thanks for tuning in!
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LA-based songwriter and producer N. Kerbin lets us in on his recording process and the unlikely inspiration behind his single, "Open Concept."