“My songs are my signposts along a road of self discovery,” shares the Cape Town, South Africa-based modern troubadour Nathan Maingard. “They’ve given me the courage to speak my truth and not let fear drive me.”
This shamanistic storyteller is lighting the way for others to seek their truth with his emotionally intimate folk music medicine. Nathan’s uplifting vibe traverses Radiohead thoughtfulness, the literate tradition of 1960s and 1970s folk icons like John Lennon, Cat Stevens and Bob Dylan, and the modern movement of plant medicine music, all with a unique lyrical and melodic style. He’s been featured in magazines, blogs, newspapers, and podcasts around the world. In addition, Nathan has established a rich global profile through international touring, livestreaming, public speaking, and fostering meaningful dialogue through online discussions.
“If spring had a theme tune it would probably be one of Nathan’s songs.”ThisYearIn
Nathan has several albums in his catalogue and he’s has recently released the raw and heartfelt album ‘Wild & Free’, recorded live in the loft of the farm cottage he shared with his beloved Carly, their four dogs and eight chickens. Select highlights in his journey include playing over 100 shows around South Africa, ranging from intimate house concerts to big festivals, as well as shows Germany, Mexico, Lithuania and the UK. In 2012, he was honoured with a Standard Bank Ovation Award at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival.
The realm of community-supported creation has become a seismic force in Nathan’s artistic journey. He has a community of nearly two hundred patrons on Patreon, lovingly known as the ‘Nateives’. Many of these Nateives have travelled the heights and depths with him for many years, sharing lives unfolding to the soundtrack of Nathan’s music.
This troubadour’s earliest memories are of being naked and barefoot, celebrating the raw wilds of nature in Cape Town, on the tip of Africa. His family life in many ways reflected these idyllic free-spirited surroundings. His mother was consumed with poetry and prose. His father was a luthier, an acoustic guitar maker, and a fan of a broad and deep range of music. As a teen, Nathan and his father built the guitar he plays to this day (incidentally, people often remark how the instrument’s resonance perfectly complements Nathan’s singing voice—after all, the two grew up together).
As with all things, there is also the shadow. The violence in his male lineage left its mark, and the trauma of his mother’s branch of the family set the stage for a wandering which sometimes could just as easily be called running away. This led to a constant internal wrestling, from the light of wonder, joy and celebration in the miracle of Now, to the depths of darkness with depression and anxiety, wanting desperately to fit in but never quite being able to fit the mould. It was only through the gift of plant medicine and supportive mentors that Nathan began his journey to equilibrium, a journey he still chronicles today in his songs.
Over the years many layers of societal and cultural expectations distanced Nathan from his core roots, and he lost sense of his emotional authenticity. “I struggled trying to fit into a mould of what being a man was by outside standards,” he confides. “I found myself looking in the mirror at someone who wasn’t me, and I made the conscious decision to be vulnerable and share myself honestly with the world.”
“Nathan is one of the loveliest and most inspiring artists of our time. It’s obvious that he writes and sings from a painfully real place, and the way he puts himself out there to the world is like sunshine. He brings light and life and my world is that much better for having heard and known of him.”Wade
In 2010, Nathan had a transformative moment while on a trip to California visiting a friend. While cutting potatoes for a meal his friend was preparing, he has a profound realisation. “I wasn’t cutting them to her liking, and I felt this overpowering fear overtake me,” Nathan says, still marvelling over the scene. “I went outside and wept, realising that I was so terrified of making mistakes that I didn’t take any meaningful action in my life.” Combine this with a visit to a psychic who said that Nathan should pursue a career in music and, mere months later, Nathan embraced his destiny as a full-time troubadour.
Nathan’s catalog of songs glows with life-journey enlightenment and breezy folk-pop song-craft. Standouts on his previous releases include the sun-kissed “Little Brother” (from 2013’s the In The Shadows EP) which boasts golden vocal harmonies; the invigorating Zen-like “It’s The Little Things” (a 2016 single); and the intimately rustic “Barefoot Romance” (from the 2012 sophomore album Home).
His latest album, Wild & Free, is a raw and sincere offering. Sonically the album features a rich simplicity of sound, just a man and his guitar pouring his heart songs into golden cups for all who thirst. This is music medicine in it’s purest form. “These songs come from an eagle eye’s view of my subconscious, away from obsessions and end-goals. This music is about existing right now, in the moment as it is,” Nathan shares. The infectiously catchy title track playfully challenges society’s ideals of what life is really all about. “We’re born to be wild and free, free to breathe, to give and to receive,” Nathan joyfully sings in this song filled with the jester’s joy in wordplay and wisdom wrapped in laughter.
It’s been years and miles since Nathan came home to himself as a courageously vulnerable being. Looking back on his path he says: “My journey has taught me to be comfortable with myself. I hope by sharing the gifts of this self-discovery adventure, I can inspire others to embrace what’s real in their hearts. That’s my job in this world—that’s who I am.”
“Take George Harrison and Elliott Smith, put them in a blender with a shot of individuality, and you get Nathan Maingard“Pop Matters