Written by Crystal Straker Tuesday, 05 May 2009 00:00
Features - InterviewsFlutes and beat boxing, now that’s one you’ve not heard before - until Nathan ‘Flutebox’ Lee pioneered such collaboration. Amita Mistry caught up with him for a quick Q&A sparring session... Nathan is half Indian and half Scottish so coming from such diverse cultures he is open minded and experimental when it comes to creating music. He started flute boxing when he left school and now he is one of the most respected flute boxers to entertain crowds across London.
He said: "I was working on a building site at the time and I wanted to do something more interesting than building walls. Randomly, someone gave me a flute and I discovered I was quite good at it and combining the two skills was just a natural progression for me."
Nathan’s musical style is a concoction of hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, ragga mixed with Indian classical sounds. He is already a regular on BBC Radio 1 and has worked with the likes of Prodigy, Mattafix, Asian Dub Foundation and Beardyman. His main influences are Roland Kirk who was a blind musician that played three instruments at the same time, through his nose! Others influential artists include Rachmaninov, KRS-One, Miles Davis.
His unique style caught the attention of Arena Magazine who has positioned him as number 18 on their ‘coolest people on the planet’ list.
He adds: "It's always nice to get this level of recognition; it shows people like what I do and are talking about the show. It's also good to know that I'm cooler than eggs made with whipped cream!"
What makes Nathan Lee’s talent so valued is the way he has changed the perception of a flute. He has created a sub-genre within urban music and delivers a sound that all ages can enjoy listening to.
His live performances are full of energy and most of his audiences sit stunned in their seats wondering if there’s a guy in the back hitting the play button on a CD player. When he plays, he occasionally peeks up to look at the crowd’s reaction, particularly when he’s doing the Knight Rider theme tune.
His greatest achievement so far he says is: "Playing in the Royal Festival Hall with my band, on the same stage as the London Philharmonic Orchestra. They loved our music, one of the violinists even got up from his seat to shake my hand as we left the stage."
Nathan has worked with The Prodigy after one of them spotted him playing in a bar and asked if he’d collaborate with them. He tells us: "They are a really lovely group of people. They're very talented and not at all arrogant, just very down to earth. They seem to love what I do too, especially Liam Howlitt. I was a bit intimidated at first as I've always loved their music."
Mr Flutebox has many shows coming up. Throughout April and May he will be carrying on with his world tour making an appearance in Singapore, Mexico City and London.
When we asked him what’s in store for April/May 2009, he told us: "I'm going to be doing a lot of recording but I'm also touring with my band in Mexico, we're playing at one of Mexico City's biggest festivals. We'll also be playing at The Roundhouse, Camden alongside bands like Mongrel and I'll be at The Great Escape in Brighton with Catch 22 and Deadly Hunta too."
So after wowing everyone with truly spectacular live performances, his fans are dying to find out when they can get their hands on his album. He has confirmed the album will be out later in the year but wants to make sure it’s perfect after setting such high standards with the live show.
We’re coming towards the end of the interview so let’s chuck in a random question that is playing on all of our Freeqy minds… At the WOMAD Gran Canaria Festival you were playing topless – does that help your performance?
"Ha ha ... only when it's really hot, like it was in Gran Canaria. That was a great gig; it was cool playing on the main stage in front of thousands of people. All our WOMAD performances have been great, especially last summer's WOMAD UK, they really know how to put on a festival!"
If you can’t wait to catch Nathan in action there are a number of dates set across venues in London starting off at Bar Music Hall in Shoreditch on 1st May. Visit his MySpace page for more dates (http://www.myspace.com/nathanfluteboxlee).