I’ll be the first to admit that it’s difficult to take a YouTuber’s transition from content creator to genuine musician seriously. It’s not something that I’m proud of, but it’s a bias that I know that I have. If you come from the platform, it takes a lot for me to give your music a serious shot. The few exceptions to the rule thus far are Superfruit, although you could argue that they were musicians first, Troye Sivan, and in a surprising turn of events, NateWantsToBattle. His brand of bombastic and arena-ready rock music hits you like a jolt of energy that you can’t shake — a break from the mundane in a way that breathes new life back into you, even if it’s only brief. The songs that make up his new Paid In Exposure EP are a unique piece of the puzzle that makes up the NateWantsToBattle puzzle, and we’re so thrilled to have him sit down and walk through each of these tracks with us today!
A stream of the record and a breakdown of each track can be found below.
“Until the Wolves Come Out”
I wanted a hype anthem-like track to kick off the album. A song that’s literally just about doing whatever it is you’re doing to the max. Opening the entire album with group singing matching really big brass right off the bat gets me pumped and ready to kick things off.
“Smoke and Guns”
Sometimes there’s chemistry and sometimes there’s even more than that – a really intense spark. I wanted the music to reflect that and have a nice danceable beat behind it. Probably one of the most feel-good tracks on the album.
There’s an element of self-awareness to this one. It’s easy enough to write a song and talk yourself up about how you want somebody and how much good you could do for them. It’s an entirely different approach when you want them to know how bad of an influence you might be. Kind of like “Hey, just want you to know what you’re getting yourself into,” introducing them to your own messed up world going on in your head. I wanted this one to reflect character and the theatrics going on in my brain. I’d like to imagine my headspace has a Tim Burton aesthetic.
“Take Me Anywhere”
This was, without a doubt, the hardest song for me to write. “Take Me Anywhere” is about perspective and how important it is to change yours from time to time. I was at one of the lowest points in my life and it wasn’t until I had a change of scenery that was touring to really show how unhappy I was with my life. “It’s easy to see it. Too hard to believe it. But once in a while you’ve just gotta come clean” devastated me. I typed out that line and just stared at the words that, to this day, still haunt me. This song was the ultimate therapy and really showed me that I needed to do something different and not idly watch as my life goes by without me being as happy as I knew I could be.
Where “Smoke and Guns” is about undeniable chemistry, “Dream Alone” is about uncertainty. Feeling like there’s something there, but unsure if it will come to fruition. It’s frustrating knowing what you want but not what direction your situation will take.
“Paid In Exposure”
Almost an extension off of the previous album’s “Branded” is falling into tropes and being surrounded by ridiculous standards and a toxic environment. This branches off of that and talks about not realizing that you can start to fall into a lifestyle you hate simply by being surrounded by it. When I moved to LA, it felt like a different culture full of negativity and climbing and I couldn’t stand that. And yet, from time to time, I find myself adapting and taking on some of those features that before I thought were ridiculous. It creeps on you and you’ve gotta stay grounded.
“Sleight of Hand”
A friend of mine described this as sounding like a Chevy commercial and that’s kind of been the tag for this one. I hadn’t really written anything with that Southern charm that I adore. So, I bent a few chords and made some good ol’ rock and roll.
“The Wrecked and the Worried”
Anxiety is becoming the norm. It warms my heart and puts me at ease to see how much acceptance and awareness toward mental health there is today. Especially out in CA, I don’t think I know a single person that doesn’t struggle with SOME form of anxiety or depression. I wanted this to be a song that people struggling could rise up and sing together. People who are always a wreck and always worrying about something with a nice bounce behind it.
“Call It Off”
The odd-child track. This one, to me, is so different. I almost didn’t include it but I’m glad I did. Lyrically, this was another therapeutic one. Going back to mental health, I deal a lot with pessimism and negativity. And yes, you take the steps to subside it. But sometimes it just feels good to just feel the way you feel. Specifically, feeling the way you want to feel when there’s so many eyes on you. It’s hard to post or say anything without someone trying to hyper analyze or look for subtext like your life is some sort of facade and there’s a secret story in there that’s waiting to be dug up and theorized on. Sometimes I’m just annoyed. And that’s okay. People should learn not to read into everything they read on the internet. The whole “what does it REALLY mean” mind-set is so toxic and yet so common.
There was a point in my life where I felt like someone else was living in my body. I was present. I made choices. It seemed right at the time. But, I look back and wonder how I could’ve thought the way I did. I was hurting the people I cared about. I had grown cold and distant. It felt like watching someone else live my life, like I was sharing my skin with someone. Feeling like you’re 2 people but 1 person at the same time. I’m glad I’ve changed and bettered myself since then and I’ll continue to learn from that time. Also, it felt like a cool closing track.