Israel Nash: Glide Visits the Desert Folklorist at His Texas Ranch

Up a shrub-lined windy dirt road just past the small town of Dripping Springs in the Texas Hill Country lies the home of Israel Nash. It’s a modest home with a majestic view of rolling hills – a quintessential Texas landscape. Nash’s home feels like a perch of sorts, and within moments of being on his property you start to understand the inspiration behind his 2014 album Rain Plans and the sound he calls “desert folklore”. The openness is enchanting to say the least, and as he shows me around there’s a feeling of clarity.

“I come here and I get lost,” says Nash as we walk along a dusty road. We come upon a metal Quonset hut that resembles a small airplane hanger. The studio is a work in progress and Nash has been constructing it with his bandmates. When it’s finished it will house a fully functional recording studio and a loft for his band and other musicians to stay in while they cut records on a mostly analogue setup.

Even though there is much work to be done, this is where Nash and his band cut their new album Silver Season, recording songs in front of glass doors overlooking the countryside. The album expands upon the sounds Nash first introduced on Rain Plans, yet it also finds him and his band venturing into new territory. Silver Season is awash in psychedelic sounds and musical textures, and compared to Rain Plans – which mostly stuck to straightforward song structures – there is an emphasis on what Nash describes as the “idea of playing with space”. Songs often start with eerie instrumental segments before erupting into something entirely different. It’s what happens when a group of musicians are locked into a shared consciousness that can only happen with creative growth and a willingness to experiment.

One of the best examples of this can be heard on “Parlour Song”, a solemn reflection on gun violence that is easily one of Silver Season’s most powerful tracks.

“The way we recorded it was we did this thing that was inspired by the Godfather 2 and the flashback where Vito’s dad had the funeral and it’s this ragtag band marching through the hills of Italy. We made this part that sounded kind of like that, then when we mixed it we pumped it through speakers and made it like ears and a head and walked it through, so the whole thing is like a natural pan,” says Nash. Listen to “Parlour Song” with headphones and you’ll hear the trippy effect:

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Nash mentions how he “initially wanted to make one piece of music where it just never stops,” and though he plans to do that one day, Silver Season still found him embracing his background while simultaneously taking the band’s sound in a different direction.

“I’m still very much a songwriter in full aspects of choruses and harmonies, but it’s kind of this idea of, how do you pull these things together in a way that’s accessible, but also give something where it’s a change of sceneries,” says Nash.

Back at the house we post up in Nash’s front yard just in time to catch a pastel array of colors on the horizon as the sun sets over the Hill Country. Crickets chirp as night falls around us and Nash reflects on what brought him to Texas.

“I moved [to Texas] and everything just made sense to me. Everything slowed down, life felt very simple, and I kind of realized that I could do whatever I wanted to do,” says Nash.

This feeling had an immediate effect on his music, which had been more singer-songwriter oriented in the vein of Americana artists like Ryan Adams. After years of trying to make it as a songwriter in New York City, Nash found in Texas a freedom to pursue music at his own pace.

“I think I always had people that were attracted to me, like older people that maybe had advice, like a studio owner or my first producer on New York Town. I feel like they knew that there was something special, but I think maybe I also listened to people too much because I didn’t want to fuck it up,” says Nash.

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Being young and hungry meant playing by the rules he perceived as being necessary to find success as an artist. This worked for Nash as he found himself signed to a Dutch label and touring Europe to increasingly larger crowds. But it also came at a cost, and upon moving to Texas, Nash realized that having 15 acres of land in an idyllic rural setting translated to his own creative space. Desert folklore was born.

“Wandering around on the land, you can just sort of get lost and just be,” says Nash. “So I think I just started operating without those kind of rules, like, oh wait, we can have 7 minute songs, we can have songs that go into other songs, we can make this really awesome and be able to use it live.”

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Silver Season doesn’t operate by any rules and the result is a sonic dance from one of the more exciting artists making music today. The songs are living, breathing creatures as Nash and his band flex their ability to build intriguing soundscapes. This comes from spending the last year touring constantly, and on Silver Season you can feel the band’s awareness in making songs that will be as interesting to see live as they are to listen to on the album.

Talking to Israel Nash in the comfort of his Hill Country home, you get the sense that he is an artist who knows exactly where he wants to be. The landscape around him is both a source of inspiration and a place to be at peace. With Silver Season under his belt, Nash is already looking at how he can keep evolving his music.

“I know that I’m not set on anything because things that are the same are boring to me. I want everything to always be growing and moving forward.”

Silver Season is out now on Loose Music/Thirty Tigers. For more info check out israelnash.com.

Israel Nash also kicks off a fall tour this week. Dates:

10.14 – Little Rock, AK @ Sticky’z

10.15 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement

10.16 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl

10.17 – Wilmington, NC @ Ziggy’s By The Sea

10.18 – Durham, NC @ The Pinhook

10.20 – Washington, DC @ DC9

10.21 – Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts

10.22 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge

10.23 – Allston, MA @ Great Scott

10.24 – Montreal, QC @ Quai des Brumes

10.25 – Toronto @ The Garrison

10.27 – Ann Arbor @ Blind Pig

10.28 – Chicago – Schubas

10.29 – St. Paul @ Turf Club

10.30 – Green Bay, WI @ Backstage at the Meyer

11.03 – St. Louis, MO @ Off Broadway

11.12 – Austin, TX @ Stubb’s Jr.

11.13 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada

12.04 – Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar

12.05 – Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy & Harriet’s

12.08 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo

12.10 – San Francisco, CA @ Brick & Mortar

12.12 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile

12.13 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge

12.14 – Pendleton, OR @ Great Pacific

12.15 – Boise, ID @ Neurolux

12.17 – Denver, CO @ Hi-Dive

 

 

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