• Nathaniel Keen

The re-emerging artist

Updated: Jul 15

Musicians: Nat Keen (guitar)


Last week I focussed my writing on my ongoing interactions with Jane who has been learning a medieval song with me. This week, I'd like to describe my work with the incredible "re-emerging artist" JC, who in the last years has become an incredible example of the transformative power of music, in his case shifting his outlook to a point of growth, creativity and positivity. Before I joined the Spitz team, I'd caught wind of this 'legend' JC who'd been gifted a guitar by The Spitz and had since beamed with energy and a love for the Blues.


In recent months I'd enjoyed following in the footsteps of fellow Spitz musician Arthur Lea who had previously spent time writing songs with JC. Each session I'd shift from playing established repertoire with him to exploring the plentiful ideas of his own that were swirling around in his mind. I began to invite him to collaborate with me, we would set the scene and I was ask him to tell me about the lead characters in the story, where the story was set etc....from there we'd busk some chords and add a melody until a rough song revealed itself.


On nearly every occasion the songs would follow the same narrative, we'd be somewhere in America, usually the southern states/midwest and there would be a young girl trying to run away from her family. At some point there would be an exciting mode of transport featured, for example a speeding train or a Cadillac and more often than not the young girl would get caught up in some kind of bank robbery/ hostage situation/bank heist, then the cops would come in, pull a gun on the baddies and retrieve the money.


I was intrigued as to why he reverted bank to this aesthetic each time, but also completely understood! It's an imaginary world packed full of excitement, drama, vast expansive landscapes and romance.


For fun I sometimes asked him to begin a story from a completely different angle....a love story set in the Russian Tundra or a tale of two sailors discovering a new Island and, with amazing storytelling craftsmanship JC would expertly find a way to navigate accommodating a bank robbery or hostage situation into any of these scenarios.


This week I asked him:


NK: 'why do you always sing about kidnapping and robbers'?

JC: 'I like to explore the words'

NK: 'why is it in particular America, shooting and kidnapping?'

JC: 'One thing in particular is it never happens in this country'


He went on to describe how he likes to imagine different worlds far away from his own and how he used to watch movies with his father


NK 'and did you used to watch Westerns when you were younger?'

JC: ‘yes, a lot.....with my father, yes a lot, we went to the cinema'

Entering this world clearly brings JC a lot of fulfilment and excitement, perhaps it reminds him of his father and maybe it allows him to drift into a fantasy world which is a far from his current situation. I explained to him how my father took me on a trip to the West coast of America and Canada when I was 12, JC's face lit up as he asked me a series of questions.....'What's California like?...is it a big place?.....what are the cops like?!" I told him that I prefer cops who don't carry guns (which he agreed with).


We finished the session with one of his all-time favourites No Particular Place To Go.


“Great session”


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