Nate HallerAfter working with some of Canada’s top country talent, Waterloo’s own Nate Haller has been busy carving a name for himself in the biz — and it’s safe to say, we’ve all taken notice.

Following the success of his debut single Lightning in a Bottle, which landed him his first Top 10 at Canadian radio, Nate has continued to bring his high-energy live show and trademark enthusiasm to fans — all while releasing a steady stream of bangers, with his most recent single, Ain’t Like Me, continuing to climb the charts.

This week, the award-winning singer/songwriter is getting set to join Canadian Country Queen Tenille Townes for the Ontario leg of her world tour, with new music in tow, and he couldn’t be more excited.

We sat down with the current reigning CMAOntario Rising Star to talk about his inspiration, who he’d like to collaborate with next, and what it was like to finally step into the spotlight for the first time.

Thanks for chatting with us today Nate. Why don’t we kick things off easy? How are you feeling about joining Tenille Townes on her most recent Ontario tour? What are you most looking forward to?

Oh, man, I’m so excited for these shows. I’ve been working on some new stuff for live performance for the last couple of weeks, and to be to be getting to open for Tenille is crazy. I’ve been a fan of hers for so long. I think she’s incredible. She’s amazing. I get to come come to London and Kitchener and all over the area, which is kind of like a hometown tour really. I’m going to have family there, that honestly because of COVID, I think my parents only got to see one show this summer, and this time it’s going to be another level. So, to get to do that with Tenille is going to be unreal. I just can’t believe she was down to have me. I’m really excited. It’s going to be really fun.

We want to give our readers a chance to get to know you a little bit better. How did you get started in the music game?

I’ve always listened to music a ton. Like, my house was the house where music was on constantly — from Led Zeppelin to Shania Twain. My parents were from Timmons. So, there’s always music on in the house. But, I didn’t start playing music until my first year of high school. There was a talent show or Christmas concert, and my friend just signed me up for it. I sang a Jason Mraz song at that time, and I was so nervous. I tried to get out of it like three times with my teacher Miss Reed. I was like Miss Reed look, you got the wrong guy. I can’t do it. But she wouldn’t let me out of it. And thank goodness she didn’t because that was kind of what I needed. I had never felt any sort of energy like I did when I hit the stage that first time. I grew up doing extreme sports, so I love that kind of adrenaline rush, but this was like nothing I had ever experienced.

It wasn’t long after that I got to work with Zubin Thakkar (Shawn Mendes), who was incredible. I still talk to him. He’s actually working on the Tenille show, which is a cool full circle thing that’s happening for this tour. He was going to give me guitar lessons, but then we ended up writing a song. And he was playing for Kira Isabella at the time. He was like, if you can learn these parts,  you can go on the road with Kira for a Terry Clark tour. It was me, Zubin, and Kira. So, it was an acoustic opening slot. I was so nervous the entire tour, but it was the best experience ever. And then fast forward I got to start playing with The Reklaws, which has been great, working with them a lot. And now we’re here on the solo project — which has always been the goal for me. I’ve just had so much fun doing everything I’ve gotten to do for the past 10 years.

After playing back up for different artists, what was it like stepping out as the front guy for the first time?

It was such a different feeling. I had kind of been in the shadows — in such an awesome way. I got to experience a lot of stages and all sorts of stuff and that was awesome. But being out there in the spotlight was so different. I’m still nervous before every show, obviously. But the more I started to feel like myself, it got easier. There’s so much that goes into it. Getting to plan playing the songs that I’ve worked on for the last while and the whole idea of what it would look and feel like, is an incredible feeling. During the pandemic, I was supposed to be on the road. I was playing shows with The Reklaws when all that happened. And then all that got canceled. But, it kind of gave me the last like little kick I needed to be like — OK, this is finally happening. And the fact that Starseed, my management company, were keen on working with me, I was over the moon they were going to help me get to where I am now.

Tell us about that first show.

The one that sticks out the most was actually just outside of London, in Delaware with James Backer Band and Dead Brody. There weren’t many things I had done solo before that as far as live, other than shoot an off the floor video, which was more just performing to a camera. Obviously, that’s not the same kind of energy. James and the boys had me come out and invited me to do an acoustic version of Lightning. And to hear people sing those lyrics back to me was mind blowing. So that’s definitely one that sticks out as a first, real thing that was going on. There were other shows before that, but that was such a cool special moment. But by that time Lightning was on the radio at that point, and people knew it. So, that was pretty special.

Can’t help but notice there are some pretty familiar names on the writing credits for that song… including Mr. Shawn Austin.

Yeah, so that song had been kind of floating around for a while. And I had heard it before I was even working with Starseed. Travis wood and Gavin Slate also are on that, and I work with those guys and they’re incredible. I know Shawn a bit, but I know he’s a great writer and singer and performer. I’m always thinking about the live show and how I want everything to come across, and that song had like an energetic thing that I had been looking for, so I’m really pleased they were cool with me trying my vocal on it. I loved how it turned out.

Looking at all the writing credits on your singles, you’ve got a whole bunch of names on there with you, including Scott Hellman and Hardy — what was it like to be able to sit down with these people and cowrite these first tracks you sent out to the world?

I love connecting to songs. So, whether I write it or not, I that’s what I’m looking for. Some sort of thing that really sucks me in. And that happened with all the solid people. I have some pretty special memories from those writes, and from stuff that’s still set to come out, as well. There were times, like, driving up to The Reklaws’ cottage in a snowstorm to write with Scott and Stu and Jenna —it’s pretty cool I get to call those people my friends and I get to do music stuff with them. Having their support, as well as the support of other writers letting me cut their songs is pretty unbelievable, actually.

Nate Haller

Nate Haller at the 2022 CMA Ontario Awards – photo by Whitney South

And one of those tracks is your current track Ain’t Like Me, which I’ll admit, made me wonder if it was the kind of song you just needed to do because you had a personal connection to the story. Would you say that’s the case?

Definitely. As soon as I heard it. It was exactly what was going on in my life. I mean, I’ve told this story a few times, but a little while back I happened to meet my girlfriend Jocelyn through a friend, and when we met, I was wearing these tiny little red shorts and a wine-stained sweater. She tells people that’s when she knew right away, I was the greatest ever — so the song just related to our story so much. I had such a strong connection to it, which was even stronger knowing the people so well — Geoff Warburton, Griffen Palmer and Mark Schroor — that wrote it. So, it made a lot of sense. It also had that kind of infectious energy I’m always looking for.

As far as collaborations go, you’ve already hit the airwaves with Brett Kissel, and of course, The Reklaws. Who else would you want to team up with? Any genre.

Oh, this is a good question. You know what? People might think this is a very strange thing to say . . . but all I’ve been listening to lately is Tate McRae. She’s a Canadian pop artist and her melodies are incredible. She writes amazing songs and she’s so cool. I think she’s from Calgary. That’d would be really fun. I feel like I could think of way more — there are so many people in and out of the country world that I’ll love to collab with.

You’ve given fans so many bangers already, but is there new music on the way? Music fans are greedy — we always want more. When do we get more?

People are going to get more soon very, very soon. I can’t give a specific date because everything is still kind of floating around. But I’m really excited to let everyone in on what we’ve been working so hard on. Right now, it’s all about rounding out the full project . . . so for now, it’s all about the live show, and we’re hoping people are going to love it. It’s kind of cool that that’s where they’re going to get these songs for the first time. I feel like I’ve been working on them for quite a while, so I’m excited for people to finally hear them. When I release anything, it’s miraculous when even one person relates to it. It blows my mind every single time. So, I’m just going to keep trying to do stuff that’s authentic to me and try to hone on in on that even further. I’m really excited to see what the future holds.

Be sure to check out Nate Haller as he hits the road with Tenille Townes this week

  • Tuesday, Nov. 8 – The Biltmore Theatre – Oshawa
  • Thursday, Nov. 10 – Wax Nightclub – Kitchener
  • Friday, Nov. 11 – London Music Hall – London
  • Saturday, Nov. 12 – The Danforth Music Hall – Toronto
  • Sunday, Nov. 13 – Bronson Centre – Ottawa
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