Jake Nauta: Interview
We ask Jake about his love for acoustic music, the pressures of being a Christian, and his passion for Dutch delicacies!
Formerly one half of Playjerise, Jake Nauta has launched his own solo career – and done an excellent job of it too. His debut album From These Hands features the super-catchy, dead-honest song "Here With You".
If you were on death row, what would your last meal be?
My last meal, I’m being honest, would be Dutch croquettes. I’m Dutch … it’s deep-fried, so it’s really unhealthy, which is why you have it because you’re on death row anyway, right? It’s like a bit of a meat, slow-cooked sort of thing and you deep-fry them when they’re frozen.
What are the differences between being a solo artist and being in a band?
In Playjerise, I started developing a passion and my love of writing and performing music. The main difference doing the solo thing now is not having that band or other person to bounce ideas off. The creative process has been different and something I’ve adapted and grown through as well.
Why do you choose to play acoustic music over other styles of music?
It’s not something I really ever thought of or planned. I guess it’s just what feels natural to me and the stuff that I play is, honestly, just the stuff I like to sing. It’s sort of as simple as that. … I think acoustic just has that ability to tell a story and not be clouded by loud instruments and too much else going on. You can always get a message home with your songs.
"Here with You" has very honest lyrics (‘I don’t want to fail you. But I know I will’ and ‘I know what it takes to love me still’). People usually don’t like to admit to weaknesses like these. How important is it to you to be honest in your lyrics?
I think it does come back to why I like to do music. It’s an out-crying of how we feel sometimes, you know? Sometimes that’s the kind of thing we go through. Sometimes we do struggle, sometimes we do need help and sometimes we just plain fail. It’s awesome that we serve a God that will forgive us and love us still. And that’s cool. And that’s why I’m doing music, to share a bit of that. I have no idea who’s going to hear these songs. I wrote that song a little while ago, just like every song, jamming on my guitar in my bedroom. And the fact that some of the lyrics can impact some people – that’s just a blessing to me and it sort of gives me fuel to keep going.
Have you heard stories of how your music has impacted people?
I had a show last March. We packed out this venue called Mars Hill Café in Parramatta, Sydney, and squished like 120 people in – probably should have fit about 60. It was crazy … And this sound guy that works at the venue, at the end of the show, was talking to my drummer Grant, and he’s like, ‘Why is everyone so happy? I don’t get it’. And then Grant is just like, ‘Oh you know, God’s just really blessing what we’re doing and people are loving it and having a good time’ … and he was just really blown away by just the joy that can come when we all meet together and just have a good time. I’m not doing many church shows, but we’re coming into these other venues, these other places; we’re a little twinkle of light in the dark area – I just really like that idea.
As a Christian artist, what do you do when you feel pressured to do things that are at odds with your beliefs?
I think there’s a big pressure when you’re displaying yourself as a Christian artist. And I guess the Christian music scene in Australia is not a huge scene, so there’s always a temptation to be someone else to get recognition or to get a certain show or to get on a certain tour. There’s always that sort of pressure to maybe change or maybe not write those lyrics or maybe don’t deal with that or don’t claim that with your music. So I guess in that way it’s all about being true to who you are and I guess I’m trying to just leave it up to God and just do my thing and let Him take care of it. And that’s always a struggle too, that’s always a struggle to hand over your passions and your creativity [so that they’re] out of your control. But I guess if we do that, I think God’s going to bless what we do. And I hope that God’s going to bless what I do and continue to do so.
How does being a Christian affect your song writing?
It very much impacts song writing. I guess for me, when I sit down and play guitar and start writing my music, I just sing what comes to mind because that’s just who I am. And as Christians, we find our identity in Christ, and I don’t feel like you can separate the two too much – I can’t separate the two anyway … The way I write songs and the way I put lyrics to paper will be through that view and through that understanding. I want that to come out as well. I don’t want to just write from it and then hide it. The way I write my songs is, I don’t want to be in [someone’s] face – I’m not writing worship music or anything like that – but I’m just telling my story and I want people to get what they can from it. It’s really as simple as that.
Some of your songs talk about going through tough times. Personally, how do you handle it when life gets hard?
I feel like I’m so blessed with my life. I feel like I’ve had just massive blessings given to me. And I don’t feel like I’ve had a huge struggle or one big thing that I’ve had to really go through. But it’s got to be the fact that I’m stable with my relationship with God and – no matter what happens – God’s there. He’s got me in His hands. The more that you relax into that knowledge, the world can go on by and you know that you’re right, you’re in His hands, in His capable hands. And I think if we live like that, not much can faze us and we can just get on with doing what we need to do. I guess that’s my little philosophy to life.
Check out Jake's music at www.jakenauta.com