Photo & Header Photo by Benjamin Joel
Arriving with quite possibly the best title of the year, Is This Offensive And Loud? is the debut album from Melbourne based songwriter, Nat Vazer. The album was written not in Australia, but Toronto, Canada, Nat relocating there after quitting her job and finding a new vein of creativity as she followed her own curiosity wherever it would take her. Recorded back in Melbourne, Nat reunited with her band, and set about recording with little expectations and a lot of ideas of where it was going. The result is an expressive blast of freedom, emotion and just a little bit of rage.
Musically, Is This Offensive and Loud? is perhaps a little less obtuse that it’s title would suggest, indeed it’s the clever balancing of straight-talking lyricism with the melodically adventurous musicianship that truly shines. Take the opening track, Like Demi, as Nat sings, “used to care what people think, now I’m all out of fucks to give”, it’s delivered with a stripped backing and a gorgeous vocal melody rather than a howling sonic assault. Sure, it picks up to a more rambunctious chorus, nodding to fellow Australian Julia Jacklin or Lucy Dacus, yet there’s little to be offended by, unless you just hate really good songwriting. Across the album’s nine tracks, Nat runs through a vast array of troubled tales, from her mother’s battle with cancer to inappropriate love affairs and how even in our moments of happiness, self-doubt can rear its ugly head. Mixed in with the more personal moments, there’s the creeping spectre of the world around us, on Better Now, Nat remarks on, “another kid with a gun, another rally at school”, before ultimately noting, “no-one’s listening”, especially the, “billionaire clown in a white house who doesn’t give a fuck”. These flickers of anger appear throughout, remarking how, “the broken system’s broken me down too”, on Grateful, or challenging the cliché of love as a road to freedom on closing track, Sunlight. Is This Offensive And Loud? is a fabulous introduction to Nat Vazer, an artist realising the power in expression, and reminding us all to push boundaries, embrace ourselves and not worry too much if that upsets the idea of what people expect from us – now go forth and be as offensive and loud as you want.
FTR: For those who don’t know who is Nat Vazer?
Nat Vazer is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Melbourne, Australia. The last few years have been some of the most prolific for Vazer, who quit her career as a lawyer to focus on songwriting. The songs have come out of late night walks, exploring foreign cities, long drives to unknown destinations and a collection of emotions, experiences and significant stories from over time.
In 2018, Vazer’s debut single ‘Keep Away From Parks!’ was acclaimed as one of the ‘Triple J presenter favourites’ of the year. Her latest singles ‘For A Moment’ and ‘Grateful’ have also earned her fans in The Revue, Triple J’s Richard Kingsmill and a feature spotlight by The Australian Independent Record Labels Association.
Her debut album ‘Is This Offensive And Loud? will be released on 29 May on Hotel Motel Records.
FTR: What can you remember about your first show?
My first show playing my own music was at The Old Bar in Fitzroy. I was recovering from a bad cold that day and remember chugging a litre of electrolytes in my car, five minutes before hitting the stage. I was dizzy, my arms felt heavy and I was sweating from a fever on stage. My manager from my old workplace had come to watch me which I didn’t expect. After the gig, she didn’t comment on my performance at all. She just looked at me blankly and said in a really solemn tone, ‘if you need a place to stay, you can come live with me and my husband for a while’. I remember thinking: people must feel sorry for me after that performance. Maybe they think I’m going to struggle for a long time haha.
FTR: Why do you make music? Why not another art form?
For me personally, music is the highest form of self-expression. It’s something I’ve grown up with and has been a powerful force throughout my life. It’s also a means of keeping in tune with myself as well as exploring ideas and making sense of experiences. I also love creative writing. I write stories and poems when I’m able to catch a break and not focusing on music. I also do life-drawing and painting sometimes.
FTR: What can people expect from the Nat Vazer live show?
They can expect top-qual stories, a laugh, maybe even a cry? People have cried at shows and I never know how to react to that so my auto-response is to serenade them but that can lead to more awkward tears. You can expect to see decent hair from my bandmates and I. People say our hair game is strong and we have distinctive hair styles. We often wear clashing outfits that probably say more about our individual selves than a consistent uniform look on stage. We like to change it up but maintain bold, fashionable choices.
FTR: What’s next for Nat Vazer?
My band and I will be back on tour when it’s safe to hit the road again. Until then, I’ll be writing more music and I’m very excited to be releasing my debut album, ‘Is This Offensive And Loud?’ which will be out on Hotel Motel Records on 29 May 2020.
They Listen To…
Simon & Garfunkel – America
My mum used to put on ‘The Essential Simon & Garfunkel’ album in the car on the way to school, so whenever she dropped me and my brother off, I’d have their songs stuck in my head while learning Math and English. Not a bad soundtrack for school I guess. It’s probably one of the reasons this song feels like home for me and reminds me of a more youthful, hopeful time. But aside from that memory, it’s also such an anthemic song that reflects that free-spirit zeitgeist of the 60s. I still listen to it now because those sentiments still resonate with me. Despite the title, I don’t see it as a patriotic song, but it has a kind of post-war vibe – it’s idealistic, romantic, adventurous. I also think nothing quite beats a good organ and guitar combo with great lyrical storytelling.
Marika Hackman – Open Wide
I like cool and depressing songs and I think Marika Hackman nailed it with this one. When I heard the Nirvana-esque guitar riffs, I was hooked. The dichotomy of religious imagery and sexual undertones are so cleverly and poetically depicted. The song is from the album ‘We Slept At Last’ which is my favourite album to date by her.
Car Seat Headrest – Something Soon
I discovered Car Seat Headrest in 2016 on the soundtrack of a great Netflix series called ‘Flaked’. They’ve since been one of my favourite recent discoveries. The way Will Toldedo comes up with these incredible arrangements using old guitar sounds and vintage effects is refreshing and masterful. I think this song describes that feeling of anxiety really well and the lyrics are cute and clever: “I want to kick my dad in the shin’ – yes, can relate. ‘I want to talk like Raymond Carver’ – also can relate. Much like Raymond Carver and his amazing storytelling abilities, Toledo is a great storyteller and his descriptions of characters, events and things just somehow stick with me.
Led Zeppelin – That’s The Way
This is on my playlist again because I think it pairs well with late night drives in Autumn (which is now in Australia) with the windows down. It’s not your typical Zeppelin song and ‘Led Zeppelin III’ is a pretty unimaginative title for an album, but the song is warm and inviting and everytime time I think back to the start of my career as an artist, I think of the lyrics: ‘I can’t believe what people are saying, you’re gonna let your hair hang down. I’m satisfied to sit here working all day long, you’re in the darker side of town’.
Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism
Death Cab for Cutie · Transatlanticism
The emo kid in me is still alive somewhere. Once in a while, I go back to my indie roots and listen to old DCFC albums. I remember being blown away the first time I heard this and the album which was named after the song. I often think the songs that tend to stick with people are the ones they experience most intensely at a certain time or have discovered at a significant point in their life. ‘Transatlanticism’ – the song and album – was like that for me because it got me through the weird years of highschool and uni, and now I’m listening to it again.
Is This Offensive and Loud is out now via Hotel Motel Records. Click HERE for more information on Nat Vazer.