Discover the visionary mind of Nagase, the multi-talented artist behind the acclaimed record, Block Party of One. The musician talks about the inspiration behind the lead single “That Body” and the emotions conveyed through the song. During our brief chat, we also explore the significance of the album title and the elements of the artist’s multicultural background that are incorporated into the music.
From the evolution of Nagase’s musical style to the creative process behind blending different genres, this interview gives a fascinating insight of the singer-songwriter’s approach and how he tackles a diverse range of themes, offering a unique perspective, and uncovering the deeper meanings behind the songs.
What was the inspiration behind your lead single “That Body,” and what emotions were you trying to convey through the song?
On the surface, “That Body” is a song about an impossible crush, who will always be just a fantasy. But the story is a bit deeper. I began writing “That Body” while envisioning myself at the beach, ironically, when I was living in gloomy Seattle, tucked in a cold, gray apartment, far away from such visions. I began to feel obsessed by everything the beach represented, and the more I wanted it, the more I found myself alone, desiring anyone in my line of sight that could take me away. It was a call that I needed to do something about my lifestyle. Fun fact: I ended up finishing writing the lyrics once I forced myself to move out to Santa Monica, in Los Angeles.
How does your multicultural background influence your music, and what elements from your diverse experiences did you incorporate into your album Block Party of One?
Growing up across different countries and speaking different languages definitely unlocked a creative side of my brain. Sometimes there is something very particular I want to express and it just sounds right in another language. So, you’ll see glimpses of that (whether it’s Spanish, Portuguese, Japanese, or all) in songs like “Liaison,” “Here and There,” and of course, “Dopamina,” which is my Spanglish song. Those three songs are also the ones in which I incorporate themes and instruments from different cultures, like Brazilian Carnival, Spanish guitars, and reggaeton.
Could you share with us the story behind the album’s title, Block Party of One, and the significance of it to you?
The title actually came to me when I saw the album cover. After struggling to get the art right with a designer, I had asked a close friend of mine to come up with the cover instead. The only instructions I gave him was to design something that he could envision in his living room. When he came up with all the unique blocks representing different parts of my personality, I immediately thought about how each of my songs were also portraying different parts of me — or blocks. I took it to ChatGPT, since AI is all the craze now, to get title suggestions with the word “block” in it. Through a lot of back-and-forth, I came up with Block Party of One. It fit perfectly. My introspective songs are my blocks and although personal, it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun up there [in my head]. We have parties too.
“That Body” has received a lot of attention and recognition. How did you feel about the response to the song, and did it exceed your expectations?
Pretty amazing! I wasn’t sure what to expect as a newcomer, so my goal was just to get 100 people to like it, but I’m happy it far exceeded that. Originally, I was going to have “From My End” be my debut single, but I decided to change it after my friends kept saying “That Body” should be the one. Once I saw people approach me to tell me they liked the song when I was shooting the video for it at the beach, I knew it was the right choice.
You mentioned that the writing process for Block Party of One started almost a decade ago. How has your musical style evolved during this time, and what can fans expect from your future releases?
Before, my style relied heavily on alternative rock sounds. This was reflective of my ‘90s upbringing, and the rock style around the late ‘00s and early ‘10s. As the years went by, I realized I was kind of limiting myself for not exploring other genres that I liked, from ‘80s and ‘70s, to current sounds, like reggaeton and alternative pop. Fans can continue expecting a blend of sounds from classic to modern in my future songs. I’m also open to challenges and unique collaborations – I’m all ears for suggestions!
Your music is known for its unique blend of genres and sounds. Can you walk us through your creative process when it comes to blending different musical styles in your songs?
Funny enough, I drew a lot of inspiration from Broadway musicals as a kid. I was always fascinated how they tend to mix a lot of genres, sometimes in the same song. I also love tracks that blend two completely different songs that already happened in the story, or tracks that do a different take of the same song (like a sad version of an original happy song).
Then as I grew older and started listening to more traditional genres, I imagined if blending was still possible. I pinpoint notes that have similarities across songs, and I play around with the transposition until I get it right. Very often though, the blending comes naturally as I sing something. I find myself writing a verse and feel, “I think I need a different tempo here.” Maybe I should start writing musicals, haha.
You have tackled a range of themes in your album, from self-awareness to religion and relationships. What message do you hope listeners take away from your music, and how do you hope it resonates with them?
At the very least, I want people to enjoy the sounds I conjure when I speak of different topics. There are a lot of variations in the album and I like to think each is a sonic representation of different parts we have stored in our minds. If you feel inspired to read the lyrics, then my message is simple: it’s a complicated world out there, so it’s okay to feel lost. Sometimes we’re heroes, other times villains. Sometimes we are abused and sometimes we abuse. Such is the journey to happiness.
Watch the official music video for “That Body” here:
Listen to “That Body” on Spotify:
Listen to Block Party of One below: