Nate Smith: “It’s not about me being the cool country artist.”

3 May 2023 | 11:18 am | Anna Rose

“I’m just hanging out with humans that are amazing and we’re doing this thing called country music and it’s insane.”

(Image: Supplied)

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Such is the magnitude of excitement Nate Smith has about the release of his self-titled debut album, the up-and-coming US country star is itching to get out on the road and take the release to as many corners of the globe as he can – Australia, he says, he’s particularly keen to see. 

“When I come over there, can I please have extra time around all the events so I can meet everybody?” Nate directs his question to his PR, who’s navigating the artist’s chat with Countrytown. The prospect of visiting Tamworth, NSW, has Nate’s interest (and excitement) piqued, and his PR smiling knowingly. 

This impromptu scheming between this trio is, we remind ourselves, is all because of this amazing new album. At its core, Nate’s debut is, of course, a country album, but his command of sonic nuances outside the genre – pop, blues, rock to zone in on just a few – makes for a palatable listen for audiences across the board. A Jack of all trades is certainly the style of musician that Nate considers himself and wants people to perceive him as. 

“We’re in a position now in country music where you’re allowed to fully lean into who you are and where you came from,” he says. In recent times, it’s become more evident that Nashville is giving rise to artists who are more than just country music. Meshing and creating something that isn’t one thing, Nate’s seen a lot of that, too. “You’ve got to think about, ‘what is country, though?’” he muses, “that’s the big question.

“What I take from it is, its honesty, its authenticity, its storytelling, it’s all these things. Who cares if there’s a trap beat behind it or gospel. It’s like, are you telling a story that makes an impact on people?”

As for Nate’s honesty and how we’re hearing it in the album, he’s upfront about the nitty gritty trials and tribulations he’s encountered in his time. “Honestly, I’ve been through a lot of heartbreak and stuff. I’ve experienced love and lived a little bit of life. Things have happened in my life where you can put it in a song.

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“There’s a lot of emotion in my music, so I try to be as honest as I can in songs.”

Close as his songs are to his heart, Nate welcomes reinterpretation by his listeners, hoping they will make them their own. “I actually prefer that,” he admits. “When I’m asked to explain the songs, I always do, I’ll explain my heart and why I wrote it, stuff like that. Sometimes I don’t want to because I want people to interpret it any way they want to.

“That’s the great thing about art, it can be abstract; it can be anything you want. I don’t want it to be one thing – I want to say it’s a love song but someone to go ‘To me, that’s a breakup song.’

“There are songs on the deluxe [album version] that are super summer, like, fun. But when you listen to the lyrics, I’m having a helluva time getting over this person – I’m kind of a sucker for songs like that, that have a sad lyric but like a happy beat behind it, or vice versa.”

“It just feels good!” Nate says of the energising feeling that comes from a dichotomy of intent in his music. “What I find empowering though is when people truly grab a song and make it theirs. Like, Whiskey On You, I’ve got a lot of people that are like, ‘This song’s literally gotten me through a helluva time.’”

Removing those two years of God-knows-what was happening in the world, the rate that Nate has gathered moss to his stone as it were, is incredible. The accolades, recognition, and opportunities he’s afforded from (at the time) having released debut single Whiskey On You, has left Nate with a very deep inward perception. “It’s not black and white,” he muses. “There are so many people that I work with, who come around me and are helping. I’m the mascot of this business, this artist Nate, or whatever you want to call it.” 

Nate is the culmination of teamwork. “I’m coming up for ‘[New Male] Artist of the Year’ for the [Academy Of] Country Music Awards, which is pretty crazy, but like, if I win and I go on stage, I don’t think there’s anything weirder than accepting an award for everybody else who worked their asses off around me.

“I’m just the mascot, but it’s awesome. It’s a win for all of us, we’re so excited and so fired up.”

In talking to Nate, he strikes you as the kind of man who runs with a great sense of humility, staying grounded in part due to his life experiences. “I think that’s part of it,” Nate reasons. “I love people a lot,” he emphasises. “When I first moved to Nashville in 2020, I remember having conversations and realised, I was in the service industry. I’m here to serve people.”

Evidently, Nate carries a one-of-a-kind insight. “What that mindset does is it takes all the attention from me and puts it back on the people. It’s not about me being the cool country artist, I’m just hanging out with humans that are amazing and we’re doing this thing called country music and it’s insane. That’s how I see it.”


Keep up to date with everything Nate Smith on his Facebook page here.