We had the good fortune of connecting with Nathan Hall and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nathan, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I think risk in my life and career has been largely tied to vulnerability. Usually the work that I’m most nervous to present–the work that’s closest to my heart, but also puts me in a vulnerable place to be ostracized–ends up being the most successful and rewarding in the end for myself and others too. I have a work where a pianist gets literally tied to the piano by a bondage artist, and it’s quite raw and intimate. Another collaborative work has three male nudes drawing a mural and I record the sounds their bodies make. These works have catapulted my thinking about how sound is intertwined with identity. But it’s a tough path along the way. Criticism stings all the more, and it’s hard to be vulnerable and have a tough skin at the same time.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve never fit easily in either the music world or as a visual or multimedia artist. I use music and sound as a tool to explore other fields and issues like history, science, climate change, geography, and identity. I’m most proud of my works from Iceland, where I lived on a Fulbright Fellowship; and works that talk about sexuality and kink/BDSM through what we consider “classical” music. I can’t say it was an easy trajectory to get to this moment- this year I have nearly full-time creative work in the arts. I have nagging imposter syndrome that I never know enough about a topic to be an expert, or that I’m not a “real” artist. But there’s another part of me that is so fueled by doing what I love that I can’t imagine NOT doing this. An inordinate amount of opportunities have materialized by a combination of luck, word of mouth, and just being a person who is easy to work with and on time. Other challenges have been overcome by being gentle but persistent. I think the key to making most of my “outside the box” work happen so far has been thinking entrepreneurially and creating my own opportunities.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
First thing, right now you should be trying to stay home as much as you can and wearing your mask! But in an ideal world, we eat and drink at a mix of places: The Hornet for their lobster mac and cheese; Somebody People for their elevated vegan; Safta for Israeli, and Red Ginger for slightly wacky affordable sushi. We go for drinks at Banded Oak for their barleywine, and Run for the Roses for exciting cocktails. Then dessert via Voodoo Doughtnuts and indulgent sipping chocolate at Chocolate Lab. Denver is best experienced as a mix of culture and nature. MCA Denver is a continued favorite, and I love spending too much time at Denver Art Museum and Clyfford Still Museum. My membership to Denver Botanic Gardens has saved me many times these past few months, offering a nearby place to get away to and sit in some nature. Then of course some day trips to the mountains! If we’re booking a show (and fingers crossed live theater and music is happening again soon!), then we’re definitely seeing Buntport Theater and some artful, unexpected “classical” music from Playground Ensemble. We might even indulge in our adult side with a rope bondage course at Studio Friction! These are some of my favorite organizations doing amazing things this year at a really personal, individual level. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My fiancé Andy Lynes deserves so much credit and thanks. After ten years of our relationship, Andy can beautifully verbalize things about my work that I haven’t even found words for. Or gently tell me to go back to the drawing board! Andy’s perspectives have steered me and my work and helped my work grow in so many beautiful ways.
Nathan Hall, Andy Lynes, John Roberts