Naél is a Minneapolis artist originally known from the local band, smalltalk. I had the pleasure of seeing them perform last year at Dear Gaza in South Minneapolis. So needless to say, I was super hype to hear that Naél was dropping his self titled EP. Naél is a six track EP that instantly drifts you into another climate.
Right of the back, Face the first track is light and poppy. Your body automatically starts to groove with the instrumentals. For me, personally it’s a reminder of 80’s Dance wave but mixed with some chill alternative R&B. His vocals are soft, almost gleeful as he sings “I don’t want to see your face again.” Another favourite is She’s Crazy feat. Michu. Michu and Naél compliment each other well. This song is chill and the soulful sounds and calming vocals carry you away. Naél’s vocals are distinct and mesmerize you at first sound. He will definitely put you in your feels, like in his track Empath, he makes you feel like he’s singing directly to you all smooth, “Tell me something about you, I don’t want to go, I’m ready to stay.” The overall sound of the EP is euphoric and Naél’s guitar skills will have you wanting more.
TP: So why self-title?
NF: So officially I started working on this project in November of 2017. The working title of it was actually "Feng Shui" because I was really drawn towards the idea of flow and energy in a space or in this case in a musical project. Hopefully those ideas shine through in the music. By the time the EP was mastered and done in December of 2018. I had already lived with those song for what seemed like forever that I felt that the name "Feng Shui" didn’t characterize how I personally saw this music anymore, even though the idea is the driving force of the sound. I also decided on my artist name around the same time (Naél short for Nathnael) and felt really positive about the way it sounded stylistically. With that I thought that this project would represent for me, my musical introduction to the world.
TP: Will you only be focusing on solo work or will you still be working with bands like smalltalk?
NF: I'm a person who is going to make music no matter who it is with. I especially love making music with my friends and have been doing it for 10+ years now. I definitely plan on continuing to do so for as long as I can. As for my solo music, we'll just have to wait and see.
TP: How long has CLICKBAIT your label been around and what made them the best decision for you?
NF: CLICKBAIT is comprised of 5 of my best friends and myself. We actually started the group as an artist collective in 2016 and since then have unofficially released music and videos on YouTube, SoundCloud and social media. We are registered as an LLC and have been operating to support our event planning/DJ work as well. I chose to release under CLICKBAIT because CLICKBAIT is an extension of myself.
TP: What artist are your biggest influences?
I have sooooo many influences musically. Growing up many people knew me as the black kid that listened to screamo and punk music and played drums too loud. But I've also grown a large affinity towards R&B and hip-hop since my teenage years. Foundationally my guitar influences stem from the band Paramore, first and foremost and branches off to other artists like Mac Demarco and Toro y Moi. My friend and collaborator Michu has also influenced a decent amount of my guitar style by teaching me the "7 chords" that’s what gives the sound more of a beachy/whimsical vibe. This project specifically was influenced by the artists Gus Dapperton, J-Dilla, Joji, Clairo, and Ducktails.
TP: What should we look forward to in the future for you?
I have a few shows that I've committed to in the few weeks but I’m not sure what comes next after that. Unfortunately, orchestrating a project like this and overseeing collaborative efforts for the art that goes along with it can be very energy draining especially when trying to balance a full-time job as a software engineer in the daytime. I see myself laying low for the most part and focusing on some of my other hobbies like photography and technology. I'll always be making music though!
Shout out to Naél for taking time out for this interview and make sure you listen to his EP, streaming on all platforms.