From postman to TikTok star: An interview with Nathan Evans
by Miles Stebens
A couple of weeks ago, Nathan Evans was a postman. Now, he has become a TikTok sensation, starting the ‘sea shanty’ trend, racking up millions of views and has signed a record deal with Polydor Records. His video has inspired thousands, among them legendary musicians Andrew Lloyd Webber and Queen’s Brian May. Gaudie Arts had the pleasure to sit down with him for a short (virtual) chat, talking TikTok, sea shanties and his plans for the future.
Courtesy: Nathan Evans via chuffmedia
Miles: Hi, thank you for meeting with me and congratulations on your record deal. Why sea shanties? How did you first get into that specific genre? I’d never even heard of it before I saw your videos.
Nathan: I started a TikTok account back in January last year and I was uploading different covers and I was taking suggestions for whatever people wanted to hear. And someone suggested ‘Leave Her Johnny’, so I listened to the song, came back and uploaded it and the reception was absolutely fantastic. Everybody loved it. So, then the comments started coming in: can you do ‘Drunken Sailor’, ‘The Scotsman’, ‘Wellerman’.
Why do you think it was specifically the ‘Wellerman’ that set off the trend?
I think it was a mix of a couple of things: I could see my views going up, there was more interaction in the comments, and ‘Wellerman’ was always the one that got asked for. I kept putting it off, so everyone went crazy for it when it finally came out. Also, so many people duetted the video and joined in.
TikTok seems to be a good platform for musicians to get out there and get their music heard. Just one viral video is enough to set a whole trend and have people like Andrew Lloyd Webber duet you or Brian May use you for inspiration. How does that make you feel?
Pretty much just, ‘Wow, what is going on’? Both days I woke up to text messages saying ‘you need to see this’.
What do you think of the TikTok community as a whole, and how has it changed since you’ve become famous?
It’s actually been quite good; not much has changed. I don’t really get much hate comments; the majority of comments I get are really nice and supportive. We’re actually one big family, it’s always the same group of people who comment and it’s easy to make friends because of the duet feature on TikTok.
Especially now, with everybody stuck at home, you can’t see your friends, there are so many people feeling lonely and stuck and the duet feature just adds to togetherness and friendship.
You’ve already had some collaborations with other musicians on ‘Wellerman’. Are there any other musicians you’d love to collaborate with?
If I had to collaborate with anyone in the world, it would be Ed Sheeran. He’s an absolute icon. Whether he wants to sing a sea shanty or just have a conversation, I don’t really care.
How do you deal with the sudden surge of fame? Has the novelty worn off yet?
No, I had one day about a week ago where I was just sitting in my room for twenty minutes and thinking about everything that’s going on and I started crying and was like ‘What is going on in my life right now?’ Apart from that, I’ve kind of come to terms with it and it keeps me busy.
How does it feel to be the Number 1 in charts?
It’s absolutely insane; we’ve just got a Number 1 in Germany, and it’s still rising in certain places.
What has the process been getting the record deal?
Three or four days after I uploaded the TikTok onto my profile and I’ve seen it pass a million views and the comments were going crazy, 220 KID and Billen Ted took the video, remixed it and uploaded it to their socials and sent me the video as well. It sounds amazing. That same day, Capital One and Radio 1 told 220 KID: ‘If you can get me a final track, we’ll start playing it.’ After it started getting played, Polydor got in touch with me, they’d heard my other stuff as well and wanted to work with me. And that all fell together within the space of five days or so.
Finally, what are your plans for the future? More sea shanties, other genres, your own music? Any exciting projects that we can look forward to?
I’m going to try and keep it varied. My TikTok account was always varied, with loads of different songs: my songs, sea shanties, covers. For future projects, you’ll hear sea shanties, you’ll hear my own music and just loads of different stuff. And we’ll hopefully have an album out by the end of the year. Fingers crossed!
Courtesy: Nathan Evans via chuffmedia
Nathan Evans’s single, ‘Wellerman’, can now be streamed on platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music, and he continues to treat his TikTok followers with his music.