‘Lost & Found’ is the brand new album from Nastee Chapel, a Cheshire-based musical duo and romantic partnership made up of NatalieGrace and Steve. I labelled the record “one of the happiest musical surprises of the year” and I stand firmly behind that statement! A folky and mysterious masterpiece, I really wanted to get to know its creators better!
Luckily, NatalieGrace and Steve decided they were up for an interview, and I couldn’t be happier to introduce you to them! Going in-depth about their latest album, the wide range of influences and inspirations, and what it’s like being a bard, please give a big welcome to our new friends Nastee Chapel!
Welcome aboard NatalieGrace and Steve! It’s great to have you here! It feels like I’ve been speaking to more and more acts in romantic relationships. We’re always intrigued about how that dynamic shapes the music you write and create.
Well, compared to other band setups we’ve been in, it makes rehearsing very easy as we live together so we can practice whenever it feels right. Something that we uphold in our romantic relationship that translates into our music is that we are two individuals choosing to be together. Musically, this means that we allow each other to explore the aspects of music and creation that we are personally most drawn to.
Practically speaking, when one of us has written a song or riff and we want to jam it together, we don’t immediately think up a part for the other person. We allow the other person to find their own inspiration and come up with something that feels right to them and allows them to express their style. This is a great tip for playing with people in general as you will always get the best out of a person if they are comfortable rather than feeling forced to do something that doesn’t feel natural to them.
How did you go from bonding over bands like Tool and System of a Down to creating a folk-inspired sound that’s notably lighter and stands in pretty stark contrast to those bands?
We used to play together in a band that was more similar to those bands and it was a great way to express feelings of frustration at the world. As we grew, we started to implement more gratitude into our lives and found that there was a hole in our creative outlet. We still wanted to talk about important issues and vent heavy feelings, but we also wanted to share a message of hope and gratitude. We talk about some pretty dark things in Nastee Chapel but we balance it with upbeat music and a smile that draws people in. We have so much more of an ability to reach a vast number of people by balancing the dark and light topics, as well as balancing simple 4 chord songs with moments of virtuoso and progressive playing.
Your ‘Lost & Found’ album has been one of the happiest musical surprises of the year for me! I’ve been absolutely loving it! Is there an overarching theme to the record or is each tune meant to stand on its own?
Thank you! Each song was written individually but we curated the album to show a cyclical journey of self-discovery. The album starts and ends with the sound of birdsong, as ultimately we are all but a piece of the tapestry of nature around us.
We travel from the ancient world, (‘Old Wind’) through the divisions we implement: war (‘Rivers Run Dry’, ’50 Soldiers’), the wedge between masculinity and femininity (‘Sisters’), perceived division of different beliefs but also our inner knowledge to stand against this (‘Innocent Burning’), the loss of plant medicine and nature connection leading to a disconnect between our mind and body (‘Codeine and Surrender’). (‘Down by the Rivers’) shows an antidote to this sense of division: ‘For we all stand together or we don’t stand at all’.
Finally, (‘The Lamb’) tells this story of the self-discovery journey. It is along this journey that we may reach toward someone else to tell us what to do or to spend our life searching for the ultimate answer that will allow us to know everything. This deep-rooted desire can leave us vulnerable to manipulation. The travellers are told repeatedly that they are not bad, and that they must consult their inner knowledge.
After a glimpse at an enlightened, connected world, they are brought back to earth where they must once again put on their mask. Reaching a moment of connection and wonder can never last forever and the feeling of isolation can feel even more overwhelming if you’ve glimpsed the alternative. We are reminded to seek peace in the simplest of things, like the green grass and the birds singing in the sky.
I imagine this might be like asking you to pick a favourite child, but which song from the record are you most proud of and why?
‘The Lamb’ is the favorite for both of us. The story, the message, the guitar and flute solos as well as the additional piano played by producer Nigel Stonier all came together perfectly. The latest songs we have written are quite similar to this one.
Who would you put down as some of your biggest musical influences and who would you ultimately credit for helping shape and mould your overall sound?
We have such a wide range of inspiration it’s impossible to express it all, we really listen to music across every genre and time period.
I guess to hit the biggest influences we combine the folk/country sounds of Martin Carthy, Maddy Prior, Dave Swarbrick, Doc Watson, Jean Ritchie, The Chieftans, Townes van Zandt, Johnny Cash & June Carter Cash, Joan Baez, Terry Callier, Billy Strings, and Molly Tuttle with the progressiveness of Jethro Tull, Yes, Rush, and Dream Theatre. Also, throw in the playful heaviness of Tool, System of a Down, and Primus.
What are your thoughts on the music industry as a whole? What changes would you make?
Oo, well isn’t that a big question! We don’t think about changing a whole industry, we live our lives the way that we want to. We do the most active work in the summer months, in the winter months we make plenty of time for rest and hibernation. We don’t box ourselves into a genre or believe that we are too good or too ‘cool’ to play somewhere, we spend a great deal of our time performing at events that nourish our community. We have a big focus on hosting events that bring people together to celebrate traditional festivities like Halloween/Samhain, Yule/Christmas, May Day etc. We prioritize our health and well-being above all.
What, to you, is music’s role in society?
We are both bards. Bards began as an ancient part of society in Ireland and Britain, a role defined by the Druids. Our ancient ancestors recognised how important entertainment is to people. They also recognised the responsibility and opportunity of those who provide the entertainment as the messages shared through art become the foundations of thought for society. Therefore the role of the bard was created to provide training to those who could channel their creativity and pass on wisdom through generations. Creative people throughout history, whether they identified as a bard or not, have passed on wisdom through stories, songs and art allowing us to connect with ancestors over thousands of years.
It is also a very modern idea that music is something to watch people perform. We are very passionate about encouraging people to sing along, dance and clap with us as music is something that we have always shared as a community. It offers a form of communication and connection that transcends spoken language. It allows us a tool with which to process our emotions.
Thank you so much for chatting with us you two! It’s been a real treat! Before we let you go, what comes next for Nastee Chapel?
All our upcoming gigs are listed on www.nasteechapel.com.
As well as live shows we also host livestream events on YouTube to celebrate and learn about the traditions surrounding festive periods like Halloween/Samhain and Yule/Christmas. The next one is October 29th.