Photo by Robbie Butler
Nathan Williams is 22 and makes music on his own in a lo-fi project he calls Wavves. He used to be in a band called Fantastic Magic, which actually managed to out-lo-fi Wavves. Once you hear Wavves you’ll find that hard to believe. Each Wavves track that gushes never-endingly from Nathan’s MySpace and numerous blogs seems to rip and grab from every one of his beloved childhood influences. He shimmies between West Coast G-funk, slacker pop, surf rock and girl-group melodies, all bathed in a warm hissing, crackling fuzz that makes your average K Records release sound like it was recorded by Bob Rock. He also maintains a great classic-rap blog called Ghost Ramp.
Vice: Why does your record sound like it was recorded in a tin can at the bottom of the ocean?
Nathan Williams: I just record everything into GarageBand. Sometimes I’ll go through the 4-track into GarageBand and just keep playing. I try and record every day but my drum kit just got stolen.
How did that happen?
I left it at my apartment and went on a trip and when I got back it wasn’t there. I think it was my little brother’s friends, though. That’s my theory.
You can definitely hear some doo-wop melodies in there among the swamp. Who are your top three girl groups?
I like the Marvelettes and the Ronettes a bunch, and the Shangri-Las, obviously, even though that is kind of boring to say. My usual guideline is that if it ends in “ettes” it will usually be pretty OK.
Do you ever get lonely playing on your own?
Constantly. The only way to get over it is to smoke weed and watch Seinfeld.
Due to all the distortion it’s difficult to make out the lyrics. Do you want to tell the people what you’re singing about?
You’ve had a pretty intense amount of coverage on music blogs considering you’ve only been doing this since February. Do you think they picked up on it so quickly because you are a blogger yourself?
Maybe. The blogging thing just came about because I was working in this music store in San Diego called Music Trader. It was an awful place filled with racist jocks and douchebags and I just couldn’t handle the 9 to 5 so I ended up quitting. The sparkle in my day while I was there had been these nice guys who would just come and in and talk rap records with me. Once I quit the job I suddenly had all this time on my hands and wanted to talk rap records but had no one to talk about them with so I started Ghost Ramp. I’d always listened to rap though because as a kid the two things my mum wouldn’t let me listen to were West Coast G-funk and alternative guitar music so those were the two things I got heavily into.
So Wavves is just a combination of what your mum wouldn’t let you listen to as a kid?
Exactly. I am living at home again now after I quit at the record store actually. I bet she can’t wait to see the back of me.
Wavves has a self-titled album out now on Fat Possum and a seven-inch called “So Bored” out soon on Young Turks. myspace.com/wavves