Acclaimed singer-songwriter Nagase sits down with us for a chat! Incredible vocal performance and pop/dance melodies intertwine to create this hazy vibe, showing without telling. “That Body” comes with its gorgeous music video with thousands of plays already and proves just how acute Nagase is to his talent. “That body has my mind, my heart, my soul/ That body and my days I can’t control/ That body and now yes I feel alone/ I’m feeling that body, that body/ Thinking bout that body,” sings Nagase in the lyrics bringing out his inner insecurities and wounds out in the open.
Check out “That Body” down below, and in the meantime, enjoy the read!
Congrats on the new gorgeous music video “That Body”! Tell us a bit more about how this song came together and what inspired it?
I began writing “That Body” while envisioning myself at the beach, ironically, when I was living in gloomy Seattle, tucked in a cold, gray apartment, far away from such visions. It was a call that I was craving not only the physical, but a change in lifestyle. I began to feel intense crushes every time I travelled to a beach, obsessed by anyone who was frolicking. I started to wonder how far I was from a life like this and the more I thought about it, the sadder I got. Very fittingly, I finished writing the song once I forced myself to move out to Santa Monica, in Los Angeles.
Your LP Block Party of One is fascinating! What is the main theme and what is the most important take-way for listeners in your opinion?
At its core, it’s a collection of introspective songs, showcasing different sides of me and my life experiences. In order to do that, I had to crossover a few different genres, sometimes in the song itself. I can’t help it. I love a variety of songs out there, all from different styles, from The Weeknd to Björk, from Bad Bunny to System of a Down, from Doja Cat to Tori Amos. On top of that, I have a multicultural background (Brazilian, Mexican, Japanese), so I also tried to reflect that into the album. We’re all multi-faceted with many tastes, complex heroes and villains, and I hope listeners can resonate with that message musically.
What is music to you personally? What does it mean to you?
Like many songwriters, music to me is a type of journaling. There is something naturally cathartic that emits when I compose or play. It’s the easiest way for me to tap into “the zone” (if you watched the movie Soul, you’ll get the reference). While most people would reach it by going out to the clubs and bars, I could only do so with a keyboard. It was my form of dancing.
Tell us a bit about how you began singing, performing and writing music. What sparked your interest in music and why did you decide to step into the industry officially?
I wrote my first song when I was 10, pretending I was writing a soundtrack for an animated movie concept. I used to be fascinated with Disney movies as a kid, so I would invent these stories, draw out certain key scenes, and then I would think, “I think I need a song here.” I continued writing these vicarious songs until I heard Alanis Morrissette’s Jagged Little Pill when I was 13 and realized that they didn’t have to be all fictitious. I could actually write about myself and be viscerally honest with what I was feeling. It was a game changer from there.
So now, I’m at a point in my life where I can safely feel vulnerable in opening up, including in the music industry. Life has finally squared away things that used to worry me, like money, insecurities, loneliness. I had always wanted to share my music, but I couldn’t without these items crossed off. One moment you have enough money to pay a producer, and then in another life makes you move cities or make you feel like a joke. It’s been a gradual self-developing process, which suits the theme of the album.
Who is your number one fan/supporter?
Myself, really. I needed to believe in myself first before anything could happen. It was much more than just being confident about my songwriting or my voice. I needed to learn that it was okay to fail, be disliked, seen as unattractive, judged. Once I was happy with who I was, I was able to improve my musical skills and ultimately understand other people’s opinions, whether they were valid or not.
What is the most exciting collab you’ve had so far? Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
I haven’t collaborated with other artists yet, but I am definitely open to the idea. I always wondered what would happen if I got paired with someone who has a completely different musical style than mine. I remember hearing Linkin Park collab with Jay-Z and I thought that was brilliant. I would love the challenge to combine opposite genres and see what we could weave out.
What is your one piece of advice to someone who is just starting out as a singer-songwriter?
It really comes down to knowing yourself. Are you someone who likes to tell people what you feel, more focused on melodies, or grab people’s attention? What are you looking for in life? What would truly make you happy? These are actually tougher to answer than you might think. Once you do, you’ll start realizing that not every songwriter should have gotten in the industry, and not every songwriter should be quiet.