Nathan Sharp is best known for his YouTube channel, NateWantsToBattle, where he initially started creating cover songs and adaptations of anime/manga. Though he is well known for his covers of Ed Sheeran to Fall Out Boy to Adele, Sharp's fans have been eager to hear more original content, and earlier this year, he gave them just what they had been hoping for. His newest record, Sandcastle Kingdoms draws influence from the themes of Sharp's YouTube channel - his newest music video, "Heroes Never Die" is a nod to Overwatch and first person shooter games - but that doesn't mean that there aren't some personal songs in the mix as well. Sandcastle Kingdoms touches on serious topics such as anxiety and self-doubt all while allowing Sharp's personality to shine through, making for a very dynamic release.
Later this year, Sharp will hit the road in support of the album on his Cool and Good Tour, but until then, you can stay updated with him on YouTube.
You’ve been creating videos and covering other artists for years now as NateWantsToBattle - what first inspired you to get involved in the world of YouTube?
I started making music on YouTube about 5 years ago. At the time, putting music out on the internet for people to find wasn’t a new concept at all. Coming from the MySpace music era, this was the norm. However, YouTube offered something different from other websites. It was a site that ran entirely on search and related video. Many people, including myself, would spend hours on YouTube discovering new forms of entertainment like personalities, independent shows and music. It was less of a social network and more of a platform where people were on the hunt for new media to consume and gave a huge potential audience to see you!
As a musician, YouTube gives you a platform that most traditional artists or bands don’t really get. How do you feel this different way of creating music and covering other artists has shaped you or affected your own music?
It sort of goes back to what even got me started on YouTube. In that there were millions of eyes and ears interested in finding new entertainment. It’s a lot less traditional than how music had been working years ago. Getting people to hear you via local shows was tough. You had to get those people to leave their house, drive to a venue and pay money just to see if they might like you. With posting online, there’s little to no commitment to giving a new artist a chance.
That brings me to your new album, Sandcastle Kingdoms. Now that it has been out for a couple of months, what are some of your favorite things about the album?
One of my favorite things about it is the creative freedom I had with it and how much that meant to fans. There wasn’t anyone really telling me how it should sound or how it shouldn’t. I wasn’t worried about “what’s gonna sell” and focused on “what will I be proud of”. And with Sandcastle Kingdoms, I felt that I put out the most honest album I could at the time and that it’s meant a lot to so many people.
When you first started working on the album, did you have any big goals in mind? Was there anything you wanted to accomplish?
I have 2 main goals with pretty much any music I make. 1) Make something that might mean something to others and 2) Make an album I want to tour off of. So far, so good!
You also recently released the music video for “Heroes Never Die” from the album. I know that the title is a nod to Overwatch, so what inspired this track?
A large part of my channel’s background and what really got me started was making original music inspired by various IPs and video games. While this isn’t directly an Overwatch song, I wanted to make a fun song with a couple references here and there to a game I’ve been addicted to for a while now.
Where did the idea for the video come from? It looked like a lot of fun to film!
It spawned from the song being inspired by an FPS. In addition to that, my first job was actually working at a laser tag arena. So, I thought I’d combine the 2 for the HND video. I brought it to my director, Mike Lowther, and he loved the concept as much as I did and worked his magic and got a place booked.
What would you like listeners to take away from “Heroes Never Die” and Sandcastle Kingdoms as a whole?
Heroes Never Die is the party song of the album. I set out to make a fun song that’s just about enjoying yourself with people you love and making the most out of your night. Sandcastle Kingdoms as a whole deals with a lot of issues I deal with and I see a lot of people, both creators and fans in my field, deal with. Anxiety, self-doubt, feeling lost, etc. My experiences with those things, how I’ve made my attempts to cope with them and overall how they resulted in this album.
With the album out now, do you have any other big plans for the rest of the summer and the year? What’s next?
With me, I never stop working. Sandcastle Kingdoms has been out for about 4 months and I’m already deep into the next album. For the past few years of being an online musician I’ve worked around the clock non stop nearly every day. I recently went through some heavy life changes and realized I haven’t taken too much personal time. So, I decided to spend the summer treating it like an actual summer. I’m taking time to myself, reflecting on where I’m going, writing the new album and hanging out with my dog. Then, starting in September, I’ll be resuming my headlining tour (The Cool and Good Tour) with AmaLee and Mandopony. Those dates should be out very soon!
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for having me! I just hope everyone enjoys the album and is looking forward to the Cool and Good Tour later this year.