Nathaniel Star is in love. He has a light in his eyes and he is grinning from ear to ear. This is not the giddiness of a new romance or the rose-colored adoration that comes at first sight. Star is in love with his craft, his artform, the feeling that his music brings and how it connects him to a source.
“I feel that love is so deep it can make you believe in anything,” says Star. “That’s why it’s easy to write about that emotion. Love is crazy. It makes you feel that anything is possible.”
Star has channeled all of this possibility into his latest record, Eros, a 20-track collection of sensuous neo-soul that encompasses “the highs, the lows, the goods, the bads, the greats—everything that is love.” He even looks back in time on the album’s opener, “1500 B.C.”
“That’s the genesis of the whole album,” says Star. “I’m talking about knowing somebody in a past life, and the whole journey up until now…knowing somebody before they’re even here.”
That fluidity is a comfortable place for Star, whose music manifests in multiple genres. He’s made albums in the categories of blues, country, rock, rap, R&B, West Coast, and Afrobeat, not so much by choice, but through effortless dedication. Musicianship is not just a way of life, but the entire life of the Charlottesville native, who, as a child, sang gospel with his mom and sister and wrote country-ish songs on guitar. “On every album I’ve made,” he says, “I have a song about music.“
Ask him about his process and it’s like asking someone how they breathe.
“I don’t write music, I just turn on the microphone and go and record it, so my process is a lot quicker than some people’s,” he says. “I haven’t written anything down in a few years. It’s more organic that way. It flows. You don’t get writer’s block because you don’t write.”
Star lives in a constant state of creativity. A glance at his whiteboard shows seven projects currently in the works. He recently collaborated with Lorenzo Dickerson and Tanesha Hudson on the soundtrack for A Legacy Unbroken: The Story of Black Charlottesville, and is currently in talks with music supervisors in Los Angeles about film and TV placement for songs on Eros. He’s also planning to drop a hip-hop soul album later this year.
Eros comes out on August 12, the third anniversary of one of Charlottesville’s darkest days. And that’s by design, says Star, who, despite his infectious positivity, is deeply affected by recent events: His brother is recovering from COVID-19, but Star says he’s encouraged by the current pace of activism.
“Usually the machine is very slow moving but it’s fast-forward now,” he says. “I’m not surprised any of this stuff is taking place. …The activism, just everything, it’s moving fast. You can’t dodge it, it’s right there, in everybody’s face, there’s no getting around this stuff.”
Star says Eros is something the community needs right now; something that connects us to the possibilities of joy. Music gets me to a place that I can’t get myself to,” he says. “I am happy when I talk about it. I’m happy when I do it, when I create it, and I’m happy when I give it to other people and they receive it. It does make me happy.”