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  • David Coppin Lanegan

Nathaniel Arango and I Talk on My Bedroom Floor

​​I sat down with my roommate, bandmate, and friend of five years, Nathaniel Arango. He is an accomplished lyricist, and an occasional poet. Here’s what we talked about.

What’s the first song lyrics that meant something to you, that you connected with emotionally?

Definitely something by the Beatles because they were all I listened to until I was like thirteen. Probably something off Meet The Beatles. I would say You Really Got A Hold On Me.

Did you know that tune was written by Smokey Robinson?

I knew it was a cover, but I didn’t know who by.

Have you heard his new song? (Here I put on ‘Gasms’ by Smokey Robinson)

We both break down laughing.

What was the first lyric you wrote that you really connected with, or felt was really good?

Shadowboxers, probably. (this song isn’t on any albums). The line that goes ‘those who fight their own shadows, worship golden light.’ I’m really proud of that.

Okay, moving on. How does the mood of our music influence the lyrics you write?

I would say more that the mood of the lyrics influence the music. I always know what the song is going to be about before I write it. So, I try and guide the music that way.

What inspired the lyrics to our last record, (croatia), and what music or writing influenced them?

The first relationship I ever had, which lasted from March To November of 2022, is what (croatia) is about. The brunt of the album came from the end of the relationship and the turmoil. Some of it came viewing the joy in the relationship as, now, darkly sarcastic.

As for influences, I think Black Country New Road, and Elliot Smith. Given the sheer amount of time I’ve spent listening to the Beatles, I’m sure they had a butterfly effect on how the lyrics turned out. 

What are your favorite books?

Bro, I don’t read. Just kidding. Invisible Cities, by Italo Calvino, A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving, and the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead by Tom Stoppard.

You write a little poetry. Does that process feel different from lyric writing?

Very much so. When writing poems I deliberately have no rhythm or rhyme scheme. Not even internal rhymes, except maybe some assonance or consonance to give it a bit of cohesion. Mostly when writing poems I try to create a landscape that stands in spite of a lack of rhythm. 

You told me once writing a poem was like walking down a path. Is that true of lyric writing?

With lyric writing it’s much more like… it’s something between construction and discovery. I would say it’s closer to construction. You could call it exploration. Imagine Lewis and Clark fording the Mississippi. They have their destination, the Pacific, but no fucking clue how they’re gonna get there. That’s lyrics.

With poetry, I’m just walking around in a city I’m not familiar with, finding little nooks and crannies. 

Okay, so if (croatia) was your last great work, what's next? With our next record, what do you want to change about your writing?

The thing I love with (croatia) was how carefully constructed the lyrics were. I would either stumble on an idea, and rigorously pursue it to get it to ring perfectly in your ear, or I would force an idea until it came, and then continue to force it to where I want. I really enjoyed this and it created my favorite lyrics to date. 

With this new project I want it to be confessional. The last record was, but it was manicured. Right now I’m influenced by, like, Car Seat Headrest, Mt. Eerie, and LCD Soundsystem, I want to be more blunt, and straightforward. I guess vulnerable? As honest as I tried to be on (croatia), I think my carefulness showed fear. I want to conquer that fear.

What do you have to confess?

To being a real baller

Okay. To wrap up, who are your favorite lyricists and why?

Elliot Smith for his poeticism, Will Toledo (Car Seat Headrest) for his ability to self reflect within a narrative, and Phil Elverum (Mt. Eerie) for his ability to write completely raw lyrics that still read, somehow, like poetry. 

Nathaniel’s band is called Wavesons. you find their new album, (croatia), on Spotify and Apple Music. You can find his electronic ambient album Everything As Viewed From The Inside Looking Out, under the name Listen With Your Eyes Shut, also on Spotify and Apple Music.

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