There is an enchanting elegance to the dark, delicate compositions that Nathan Amundson weaves together as singer/songwriter of Rivulets. His most recent record, You Are My Home (Important), which was recorded in Chicago by Bob Weston (Shellac, Mission of Burma) features a plethora of guest collaborators and is the perfect soundtrack for a winter "L" ride around the loop or a midnight walk down the street where your ex resides. Nathan experiments with a gamut of emotions in both lyric and orchestration from the drifting melacholy stemming from the torment of a broken heart to the subtle, uplifting instrumentation that is almost filmic in its arrangement. We had a chance to catch up with Nathan before he heads up to Chicago for a headlining spot at SubT on Thursday, February 22nd, as a part of Bandwidth.
So, Rivulets is basically your solo creations with guest artists, who are you playing with these days? What will be your upcoming setup on the 22nd?
It varies on where we're playing or what kind of record I want to make, but on the 22nd it will be me on vocals and acoustic guitar, Michael Anderson (Drekka, Turn Pale) on electric guitar, and Nathan Vollmar (Vollmar, Half-Handed Cloud) on drums.
You've worked with many different people in the past, have there been any collaborations that you found especially fruitful?
I know it sounds corny, but all of them. I choose collaborators because I already have an admiration and respect for what they're doing, so getting to work with them and learn from how they approach my songs is fruitful.
How do you spend the better half of your days when you are not playing music?
I watch a lot of movies. I walk a few miles a day.
You Are My Home is wonderful collection of moving and somber compositions for the forlorn. Did any thing inpsire you in making this album?
Yes. It's all in the songs. (Listen to samples from You Are My Home)
On the record, I enjoy hearing the sound of your fingers sliding on the strings between chords, especially prevalent on the opening track "Glass Houses", was it's presence intentional?
I really don't know how people mic acoustic guitars without getting that sound. I guess they don't, they have a pickup installed and plug it in. That's just how it sounds when someone plays a guitar. Maybe other people would try to clean it up, but it never seemed to me like a sound to be avoided.
I think that's why it stood out me, the fact that some artists try to clean it up or use a pick up, when playing acoustic. Hearing it on your recording added another dimension for me, it felt visceral and appropriate to your sound. How was it recording with Bob Weston?
Recording with Bob was one of the best weeks of my life. He's just a great guy, and he knows his stuff. He would continually come up with these parts "Oh yeah, last night after you left I put down this bass line..." that would be exactly what I had in mind, but he'd be there before I ever said it.
How do you approach the songwriting process?
I don't really think I approach it. It just sort of jumps on me and needs to be done.
Who influences you musically and otherwise?
Man, everybody and everything... There's no way to answer this question.
What's in store for rivulets this year?
We're touring Europe in May and I'm hoping to gain entry without hassle. That's pretty much my main worry at this point. Not being detained in customs again.
What can the Bandwidth audience expect from your set on Thursday?
Some rivulets songs. We'll be happy to be there.
You've spent some quality time in Chicago. What is you favorite part about Chicago? Anything you miss?
There are so many vegetarian food options. I miss Rogers Park, where it was quieter but still the city. Actually, the area around the Subterranean too, I lived there while recording You Are My Home and it's crazy but was a good distraction at the time.
Finally, who are you listening to these days?
The Complete Verve Studio Master Takes by Billie Holiday. It's the later years. I like her voice best then, and they were giving her good songs to sing. It's 6 CDs of the best singer singing the best songs with the best musicians. It's flawless.
I have that box set as well, it is perfection. Thanks for your time, Nathan!
Also, be sure to tune into a special radio preview of Rivulets when they hit the WNUR studio for a live on-air "Airplay" Session on 2/22 at 4PM! Tune into 89.3FM or listen on the web at www.wnur.org!!
DOWNLOAD: Rivulets - "Cutter" (Debridement LP)