Getting to Know Nathan Samuelson and His Latest Release, “City Lights Ahead”

Hey Nathan Samuelson, welcome to BuzzMusic! We’re in love with your soothing jazz instrumentation on your leading title track “City Lights Ahead”. Can you share your creative process behind “City Lights Ahead”, and how you went about laying down the instrumentals? I am so happy that you enjoy my music! Most of the inspiration for my album has come from traveling. The title track “City Lights Ahead” was written while I was on a cruise ship. We docked on an island off the coast of Portugal called Madeira. It was very late at night and I wasn’t able to sleep. I left my cabin and went to the highest level of the ship to get a view of the island. I saw the whole island, lit by a gorgeous array of city lights reflecting off the ocean shore. It made me think of home. It made me think of how beautiful downtown Edmonton is at night; the downtown lights reflecting off the North Saskatchewan River. It was a radiant sight. I had this beautiful melody in my ear that I felt captured what I saw and felt at the time. Missing home and my love for adventure all came together in a melody. I kept building on this melody for quite a number of days until it became a full-length song. I originally was going to keep it as an instrumental song, but I later decided to add lyrics to paint more of visual and relatable experience. Once I returned home from the cruise and had a few more songs written, I booked studio time to track these songs. The tracking process took roughly 2 days with the full band along with many overdubbing sessions. Once I had the general framework with the full band tracked, I was able to put together all the instrumental harmonies, sounds, effects, etc.

Your lyrics on “City Lights Ahead” also serve another soothing aspect, making the song that much more relatable and easily listenable. Where did Nathan Samuelson find initial inspiration for the song lyrics, as well as the song's overall melodic vibe? I originally was going to keep “City Lights Ahead” as an instrumental song, but I later decided to add lyrics to paint more of visual and relatable experience. I really wanted to capture how much I had been missing home while on the road. This was sort of a leap for me to sing the opening track. I had never really sung professionally or in public before. I had debated for a while if I wanted to hire someone else to sing it or not. After careful thought, I realized that singing it myself would give off the best pure, raw effect of such a personal tune. I had to take some serious vocal lessons over the course of a few months to acquire the chops to sing it. I am very happy I was able to do it. Most concerts that I perform now have a cross between vocal and instrumental.

We’ve heard that you were born into a musical family, from your trumpet playing father to your flutist/pianist mother. How did Nathan Samuelson take the leap into the Jazz genre, was it through family or experimental self-discovery? I remember my dad introducing me to Chuck Mangione at the age of 5 years old. He gave me the record to Feels So Good. I fell in love with his beautiful tone and melodicism on the song Feels So Good. I used to listen to that record for hours. Everything sort of clicked for me after that moment. I didn’t necessarily think of the big picture is a solo artist and headliner on cruise ships. All I really thought about was playing beautiful music for everyone to enjoy. My parents could see that I was extremely passionate about music. They nurtured my creative path for many years by enrolling me in lessons and different groups to play in. The trumpet, in particular, has always fascinated me. It's not like a guitar or Keyboard where electronics can take over. The trumpet is honest and raw. Its an extension of the voice. Its pure air and physics. It always really intrigued me that no matter who plays say a middle C on guitar or piano it will sound basically the same. With trumpet, a middle C sounds completely different with each player.

Now that you’ve started your journey as an artist with your debut album “City Lights Ahead”, is there anything you’d like to say to our readers about Nathan Samuelson’s music and how you intend to use your platform? I want to share warmth, passion, and approachability in my music. My intent is to share through music a very human experience —of happiness, sorrow, and most importantly, love.

What can we expect to see from you throughout 2020? I am in the process of writing and arranging new music at the moment. I am building towards another album similar to the vibe of “City Lights Ahead” but with a more experimental approach. I would like to incorporate more electronics and samples in the next album. I am also writing some new arrangements for my cruise ship show as a headliner. I am looking forward to releasing some new music soon for you all to enjoy!

You can find "City Lights Ahead" here.