Nathan Sykes On Single “Kiss Me Quick” & His Soulful New Sound: Idolator Interview
Last year, UK band and “Glad You Came” hit-makers The Wanted broke countless hearts when they announced they’d be going on hiatus. And while member Max George opted to stretch his acting chops with a role on the final season of Glee, Nathan Sykes has spent the last 12 months steadily writing and recording songs for his upcoming debut solo album.
Nathan’s LP is due out in the fall, and lead single “Kiss Me Quick” (grab it on iTunes) and buzz track “More Than You’ll Ever Know” display a soulful new side of the British singer that we didn’t get to see in full force during his previous boy band days.
A few weeks back, Sykes stopped by the Idolator office to play some of his new music and talk about the making of his upcoming album. Find out more about his solo project in his own words, below.
You recently did a small tour of the UK. How did it feel to step out on your own after five years with The Wanted?
NS: It wasn’t really on my own, because obviously we’ve got a band. Of course, I have to sing a lot more. [Laughs] I enjoyed every second of it. It just felt like the natural progression after taking a break with the boys. I was definitely more excited than feeling nervous.
Your buzz track “More Than You’ll Ever Know” and new single “Kiss Me Quick” have a decidedly soulful sound. Are both indicative of what we can expect from your full album?
NS: I think there’s a bluesy and soulful side of the album, definitely — especially with the ballads; they’re all quite soulful. I try to keep it very feel-good, as well. A couple of the tracks are bit more Motown-y. It’s great to be making music like that, but also finding a way of making it current, as well.
Who all did you work with, songwriter- and producer-wise, on the album?
NS: I worked with Babyface and Diane Warren, which was incredible. They’re legends and so incredibly talented. It was an honor to be with them in the studio. Harmony Samuels is the executive producer on the album. I first worked with him on the track I did with Ariana [Grande], “Almost Is Never Enough.” He’s based out in L.A., but he’s the most British person you’ll ever meet. He’s got a really good understanding of American music, as well, so it’s really cool to get that nice crossover so we can make music relatable for people worldwide, not just in the UK. I also worked with these really great up-and-coming guys called London Noise out of the UK.
Diane Warren is a great songwriter…and she can swear up a storm with the best of them!
NS: Oh, she loves that! I hadn’t seen Diane in probably about a year. I was making tea, and just behind me she goes, “Hey! How the fuck have you been?” I was like, “Pleasure. I’ve missed you so much.” She brings the best atmosphere out of any day in the studio. And she’s so hungry — she’s like a new songwriter. You wouldn’t think that she’s had over a billion record sales. She’s as hungry now as I imagine she was on day one. You listen to the song [I did with her] on the album, and you’d just be like, “That is not a Diane Warren song. Never in a million years is that a Diane Warren song!” It’s a funky, Jamiroquai-esque record. It’s not what you’d expect.
Let’s talk about how your first single off the album, “Kiss Me Quick,” came about.
NS: It started quite synthy. I literally woke up at 4 o’clock in the morning back home in Gloucester — you know kind of when you’re not asleep but not awake? I was like, “We need to call this song ‘Kiss Me Quick’.” I found myself writing that in my notes and I literally fell back to sleep. A week later, it just brought to life, lyrically, all the fun we tried to put on the track. It’s quite cheeky. It’s very playful and it’s got such a cool groove that I don’t think we hear too much in pop music these days.
You played me a ballad in the office called “Famous.” Who did you work with on this track?
NS: That was Harmony. I came up with the concept for “Famous” the same day we wrote another song on the album called “Money.” That was a productive day! We wrote this song so quickly. It’s a really deep lyric and it’s a very real situation.
When did you have that moment when you knew what the sound of the album would be?
NS: It was when we wrote “More Than You’ll Ever Know,” and that came about by random circumstances. We were writing this really commercial R&B track. I was like, “I’ve heard this like seven thousand times before by too many different artists,” and I just thought, This isn’t me. So we started jamming at the end of the session and I started singing the hook to “More Than You’ll Ever Know.” Then everyone was like, “Hang on — we’ve got something here.” We wrote the song in literally 20 minutes. An hour later, the song was finished, recorded and I was running back to the label: “I’ve got it! I’ve got it!” That was when I felt there is a way to mix a soulful, bluesy feel with a commercial radio sound. I thought, “We’ve got something really, really cool here.”
Nathan’s single “Kiss Me Quick” is currently available on US iTunes and will be released in the UK on June 28.