While enjoying our time at ACL Festival, AMBY had the pleasure of speaking with hip-hop artist NF. Dive into our exclusive interview as we discuss the influence of Eminem, authentic vibes, and how music is therapy.
AMBY: So everybody has a story on how they began their music career, so how did you get started in music?
NF: I started rapping when I was 12. I was horrible but I love making music and the effect it had on me. I became a huge Eminem fan so that’s when the passion of music started for me at the young age of 12.
AMBY: In what ways has Eminem influenced you?
NF: He just influences me on a massive level. I was a late bloomer on Eminem most people already heard his first record Marshall Mathers LP, but when I heard “The Way I Am,” “Cleaning Out My Closet,” all those songs even if I didn’t relate to everything it was authentic, it felt real. Sometimes I think you can tell when someone’s singing a song like its been written for them for radio and you can tell when someone sat down at a piano and just let it all out there. Even if it’s not their story, they feel what they’re saying and that’s what inspired me about Eminem. I also think he’s the best writer like the way he can rhyme words. I think that’s just incredible. To be able to write the rhyme patterns and the things that he does as a writer it’s inspiring because it’s not easy for people to do. It made me a way better writer on this next record and it’s going to make me even better of a writer.
AMBY: Therapy Session reached the Top 10 on iTunes. How was it seeing your name in the top 10 in the midst of Beyoncé’s Lemonade and death of Prince?
NF: It was awesome, obviously horrible prince passed away, but it was encouraging seeing my album up there. Number 6 overall, number 1 in hip-hop for almost a week, still in the top 20. That’s encouraging to me because it means people are discovering it, it’s not just the same fans buying it, it’s fans showing other people and starting a movement basically.
AMBY: Was this the kind of support you thought you’d have when releasing the album?
NF: I never know what to expect. I’m a really negative person, so I always plan for the worst. I say it over and over again, if you’re true to yourself and you just do what you think is right and put out the music you think is good. I don’t really cater to certain people; I just kind of do what I do. People either love it or hate it, so when I put that album out it wasn’t like I always have an expectation for myself but I don’t expect anything. I expect things for myself and have an expectation for me and what I want to reach. So seeing what happened wasn’t expected but it was incredible.
AMBY: Why the name “Therapy Sessions?”
NF: Music is a therapy for me. The cover is basically me facing myself on the front and I talk to myself through music all the time. A lot of times I get done with writing a record or done recording, I’ll sit down and listen to music and discover things about myself that I didn’t even realize about myself. That’s what the point of the cover is, 2 versions of myself facing each other and talking and realizing things about myself that I didn’t even know until I put out this record.
AMBY: What it your lyrical writing processes like?
NF: I like to be in the studio, create the beat with the producer and sometimes I’ll write the song in the studio or I’ll take the beat home and write it, then come back in.
It’s very beat instrumental driven. Music just pulls a certain emotion out of me and it helps me write, it motivates me to write a lot more than just writing without a track. I wrote one on the tour bus and one in the basement of my friend’s house, because of the flow, the way it was and it was easier to write that way, that’s how I pretty much write.
AMBY: Where do you draw your inspiration from when you write lyrics?
NF: I pretty much draw all my inspiration from life experiences. Up to this point it’s basically my life experiences. I think as I grow as a person and mature even more in my writing, I’ll start branching out.
AMBY: When you get further in your career will you continue writing songs that have a specific meaning to you?
NF: It doesn’t matter whom I’m ever signed to, I’ll just quit music if someone tries to force me to do something. That’s just not how I operate and the position I’m in is not that way. Everything that people are hearing I approved and said I love this and I want to put this out. As far as the last two records before that, I think all my music sucked and it was because I didn’t have the funds and opportunity to do what I needed to do, to get it mixed the right way and get in the studio. Mansion and Therapy Session are a representation of NF. I don’t look back at that as good music. I look at it as a person who was trying to find himself and writing about things he experienced.
AMBY: Did you imagine yourself coming this far when you started your musical career?
NF: Like I said before I’m a negative person I never know what to expect. I think negatively but I know what I’m working for. A lot of things are different than what people think. The industry doesn’t work the way people think. I don’t expect anything; I’m just going to keep being myself. I’m thankful for the fans, they’re basically the ones that keep your career going. A lot of artists say that, but being out on the road and having a lot of sold out shows and selling records is what allows an artist like me to make a next record and have a label that’ll fund a next record and it makes me more creative. I have more of a budget; I can put on a better show for fans.
AMBY: What’s the connection between you and your fans?
NF: I think it’s the authentic vibe. I think when people show up to an NF show or when they buy an NF record, they don’t feel like they’re just buying music. They feel like they’re buying and showing up to something that’s super real to them. They don’t feel like “oh I want to buy this, drive down the road and listen to it.” It’s more than just music for me and I think it’s more than just music for the fans. When they’re buying an NF hoodie I think the fans are proud to wear it. I think they feel like this is important to me, this is important to Nate. It’s just more than music for them just like it is for me and that’s important because for me it’s way more than music it’s my life. It’s my life put out in an instrumental for people. So when people are like I really relate to that or your music really helps me, that’s encouraging to me because it’s awesome.
AMBY: What do you want your fans to take away from your music?
NF: I just want my fans to take away from the music whatever they want to take away from it. Whatever they relate to, everybody can translate music differently. Some person might listen to the song about my mom dying and they might think about their dad dying. I just want people to be able to take their scenarios and just relate to it. Think about life, their future, what they want and what they don’t want.
Thank you NF, for giving us your answers!
Interview by Joshua Guerra | @joshguerra13