feature and interview by Greg Howard
"Why not just play a guitar, or a piano?", is a question you might ask Nathen Aswell. The Canadian singer tried them out, and then settled on the bass, for a while. I met Nathen in 1996, at the very first Stick seminar I was invited to teach, in Orange County, California. At the time, I never imagined how the phenomenon of Stick players getting together would grow into a global phenomenon, nor did I imagine how many twists and turns lay in the road ahead for this young musician, looking for a "way in" to the instrument which Tony Levin, like so many others, had inspired him to try.
It would take a couple of decades, and several years with the NS/Stick before Nathen finally found the perfect instrumental accompaniment for his broad-ranged, dynamic, soulful voice and singing style— a bamboo Grand Stick, with the ACTV-2 EMG pickup module, tuned to Deep Matched Reciprocal with a high bass 4th (all important details). While he works on his third album of original songs, Nathen has embraced the opportunities to reach a larger audience virtually, through regular live Facebook performances and remote broadcasts to churches in the US and Canada. He's also dreaming about a deep red Grand Railboard. The search is never really over, it seems. We talked recently via Facetime.