Catching up with Nate Maingard

This South African, 'modern troubadour', indie-folk singer, Nate Maingard for began his journey in 1998, when he first appeared on stage. Following this, the start of his professional music career at the beginning of 2011. He now resides in London. His fan base has grown massively, but with the style of Nate's songs, the spiritually and deep relatable meanings to each and every well crafted song, it is no surprise. With over 471,000 followers on Twitter, Nate really connects to his fanbase, and his creativity is so refreshing...as is his music!

Nate at 'Sofar Sounds' Photo by: Pierre Danae
Some of Nate's influences are J. Tillman, Jolie Holland, Ben Howard, just to name a few. Nate is an independent artist, and allows his natural ability for storytelling to marry with his art for music. The melodic guitar music running alongside each song is particularly enchanting. His style and attitude, undoubtedly reigns supreme. With an honest approach to his craft, Nate really has created something special with his music, and he was kind enough to answer a few questions, that really are both inspiring and uplifting. 


1. When was the first time you realized that music was what you wanted to do in life?
A. I guess in part I've always known I wanted to share stories. It just so happens to be through music right now, but more and more I'm being asked to speak publicly, and am also enjoying making video blogs. So I guess being a communicator and storyteller has been a lifelong journey for me.

2. How do you feel you have developed as an artist from the beginning of your career?
A. Wow, so much, haha. I have definitely learned how to communicate more clearly, to cut to the core of the stories I am called to share. Also, lyrically I'm finding that the imagery has deepened and become more rich and vibrant.

3. How do you stay motivated in your career? 
A. Keep exploring the world, meeting new people, sharing my stories and hearing theirs. Life is a great mystery and by embracing it fully I inspire myself to keep going deeper and to keep sharing. Also, my patrons on Patreon and my listeners all over the world sending me messages of support and sharing how my music has helped them in their lives...well, those are huge motivators for me.

4. How do you begin the creative process when writing new material? 
A. It always happens in its own way, in its own time. I just sit down and play and sometimes the messages come through. I try not to force it, to just get out of the way and let it happen.

5. What is the craziest thing you have ever done?
A. Chosen to be consciously vulnerable, even when the world tells me I'm strange to do so.

6. Who are your musical inspirations?
A. SO many! From when I was a kid: My dad, The beatles, Cat Stevens, Neil Young, Nick Drake, Leonard Cohen. From the last few years: Bon Iver, Death Cab For Cutie, Feist, Ani diFranco. From my friends: Roaman, Sam Garrett, Thomas James Smith, Ny Oh, Jesse Sheehan, Oh Sister. The list could go on and on :D.

7. Where do you see yourself in ten years? 
A. Living in a conscious, sustainable community, growing my own food, surrounded by loving friends and family, and touring a few times a year, playing house concerts for my patrons and fans, connecting with more beautiful people all over the world.

8. What is the best advice you could give to someone starting out in the industry?
A. Keep creating, keep going deeper into your art, finding your own voice and stories to tell in the most honest ways you can. 
Learn about the music industry, startup mentality, entrepreneurship. Empower yourself to connect directly with your community and share with an open heart.

Nate Maingard
Here you can also find Nate on all his social media platforms. Go say hi to him! 
Social media:
Facebook: http://facebook.com/natemaingard

Happy Listening! 


The little wonders of Amsterdam & Holland

Last November, I had a wonderful opportunity with work to travel to Holland to write up a feature for an industry magazine that I worked on. This was my first time in Holland and having woken up at an ungodly hour to travel over the north sea to Europe, I was thrilled to finally arrive in a very sunny, very flat but very pretty Holland. Being a somewhat obnoxious photo-taker, I was quick to whip out the iPhone and start snapping anything and everything whilst taking the long drive (which shouldn't have been such a long drive but that's another story), to Woerden, south of Amsterdam which is where I was travelling for work. The countryside on the drive was not dissimilar to England, and we came upon village after village of pretty, one of a kind houses, very eclectic, full of flowers, plant pots, and noticeably pristine. Of course, to put the Dutch stamp onto it, there were little lanes of water by the side of rows of houses, small wooden boats anchored by the little decks at the end of the garden. Some clusters of houses had little lakes behind them; and to make me super jealous, people were out on boats, albeit in November when it was a little crisp outdoors, but nonetheless, the water is a place to let your mind and spirit calm. The water drainage system in Holland is so exceptional that even with heavy rainful, they never suffer with flooding, which was by far the most baffling concept for me to get my head around. I cannot remember the names of the villages, but if you hire a car from Amsterdam Schipol airport, it is probably less than an hour until you're out in the rural setting! It is the perfect place to go off on a little adventure, explore the charming villages, churches and architecture. Such a European gem.

By the waterfront where the canal boats set off from
We stayed at the hotel Westcord City Centre hotel. I would give it overall a top 4 stars for cleanliness, modern and stylish decor, friendly staff and a delicious breakfast! The only problem I encountered was, as I was travelling as a single, the room was very small, but also super intimate and had a lovely side street view which made up for it nicely. West Cord City Centre Hotel and it is in a prime location, really close to all the travel systems...of course the biggest thing ot remmeber in Amsterdam is, do your best to avoid being run over! Cars, trams, buses, bikes, I would say there were more than three occasions that myself and my colleagues had some near misses, then laughed them off and felt the burning desire to tweet about it! I didn't have chance in the two days to see even half of the sights, but the ones that I have mentioned are ones that are well worth it and some are free too (bonus!).

View from my hotel room overlooking the street 
I mustn't get too overly anxious when reminiscing about the first night when we were taken round the red light district, but I will stress this, you will probably wander round there, feeling a little like you're in the twilight zone; then feeling like you're in a maze. It was such a baffling place that my mind had totally lost the ability to focus on taking photos, noticing the pretty buildings and it is as if you get this radar, and all you notice is ladies sat in these little windows, lit up either pink or green, most of them in bikinis sat on their phones waiting for the next customer of the night and they weren't bothered if their customer was male...or female (slightly more disturbing for me!). All in all, the girls seemed very friendly, but it was excpetionally provacative, and you could buy any type of drug you wanted from the guys huddled around on bridges, or sat chilling by the canals getting high. It is definitely an intriguing place to visit. If I'm ever in Amsterdam again, I will probably avoid next time, and take an extra long canal tour because the canal tours by night are very pretty, and very romantic! We were taken out for dinner on the first night, to the famous and amazing, Bierfabriek Bierfabriek which is a ultra trendy, rustic and exciting restaurant and bar south of the Red Light District. On first walking in, I noticed the peanut shells tossed on the floor, creating a carpet almost, of nut shells, long wooden benches and merry people drinking their homemade beer. I have a weakness for peanuts and a nice glass of beer but when working, I stuck to the non-alcholic drinks. There was a large group of us, and we all ordered the chicken which was a succulent large chicken with salad and fries. Very homely and just what the doctor ordered! There was also this little guy (below) hanging over our table! Didn't catch his name! A buzzing atmosphere and very efficient staff.

Inside Bierfabriek

One of the many canals
The second day, I was free to roam the streets before our flight later that night. Two days just is not enough, but here are some of the places I went to and really enjoyed. We strolled round Vondelpark which is a little park which is within walking distance of the Van Gogh museum. We were a little cold and a little hungry, and by some stroke of luck, we stumbled upon the restaurant, which is situated within an exceptional looking building. I believe the name of the restaurant is Vondelpark3 Kitchen and Bar. It is also home to music concerts and other events. Well worth a look. The stylish, and sleek restaurant was well priced, with the most incredible food. It had a modern vibe, and was certainly a place you could just nip into for a coffee, as the staff were hospitable and the place was so vibrant, not just with the plethora of people it attracts, but the white decor, intricate detailing with flowers, ornaments, to me it had an upmarket shabby chic vibe. I opted for a beautiful vegetable soup, the perfect remedy for my impending cold and exhaustion. 


The next place I had been told I had to visit, was Anne Frank's house. Anybody who loves their culture and history will know it is a place seeped in history, and so many incredible stories that were born in that house. The queue wasn't overly long thankfully but I think that was just luck. Entrance fee was 9Euro. Admittedly, I found the cafe in the museum more interesting than the actual house. Somehow, for me, it seemed to lack authenticity, and a distinct lack of tradition. Fire extinguishers were visible, no furniture in the rooms, modern blinds up to hide the windows which just made it incredibly dark and difficult to navigate. It was also very crowded which I think created my inability to project myself back in time to that era, but I had such a keen interest in Anne Frank's story and I felt that it had become far too museum like as opposed to, keeping it in it's purest form. Still worth a visit as the television screens and wall placks provide detailed information and everything you would need to know but again a lot of tourist hotspots can be a little bit untraditional.

Stadhouderskade - not too far from Vondelpark

I would recommend getting a bike for the day so you can get round a little quicker and much more conveniently. I believe there are an estimated 800,000 bikes in Amsterdam! It is excpetionally easy to get lost in the city because a lot of the streets are practically identical, and the canals are everywhere! 

Although I do usually like to create itineraries when I travel, I also like to just wander and see what I find. Sometimes, ambling through the streets is the only way to get a sense of being, and to really be able to soak up where you are and the true ambience and being away from the tourist crowd can also be a big plus! The final port of call was a little restaraurant/cafe on the edge of Rozengracht, a short walk from Anne Frank's house. We were desperate for a drink and a bite to eat. This cafe, De Oude Wester was a pancake cafe - a lot of them savoury ones, and it seemed a good drinking hole for both locals and passers by. I opted for a savoury pancake with spinach and goats cheese I believe. Very tasty and very traditional. I did notice the restaurant become suddenly inundated with cats, they decided to go up on the tables, and under tables around the guests, which could have been questionable for hygeine but it seemed to be the norm, and there are a lot of cafes in Amsterdam that are very animal friendly! 

The day and trip was coming to end, and we jumped in a taxi to the airport. At rush hour. Headache. Check! It was also an exhorbitant price, but it was an all expenses trip so I didn't have to worry, although when I travel personally, I usually do book transfers, if the hotel provides it, as it usually more comfortable in price, and with a lot less strain and worry! All in all, my two-day trip was wonderful, but the thought of having to go back to work the next day and write up my story, was not so wonderful! Holland, thank you for treating me well, and I am quite positive that we will meet again at some point. 



Prettiest Prague....

My latest little travel adventure took me over to the wonderous and oh so charming, Europe...most specifically, Prague. Having heard only good things about Prague, I was super excited to turn off my phone, forget my stresses and worries, and just explore...and feel. There's something so free about travelling and nothing really compares to it; that feeling of being alive, of finding new things, meeting new people, making new memories and delving into the depths of the unknown.

Cafe Lavka

One of the many bridges in Prague overlooking the Vltava River

The first taste of Prague was the pleasent drive to the hotel. Inititally I was drawn to the cleanliness of the streets, the intriguing architecture of the houses, and tram lines...everywhere! It was reminiscent of Amsterdam, and I have yet to actually ride one! After checking into the hotel, we stayed at Red & Blue Design hotel (really good); touching up my less than tidy make-up, throwing on a dress (because it was slightly sunnier than England...at that point), enquiringly opening every cupboard and drawer, sneakily checking out the mini bar (because we all do that, right?), then changing into my comfy 'can walk for hours in' sandals, it was finally time to explore. The skies were overcast and the weather was pretty inconsistent which gave me that soothing homely feeling...sort of. After the first half an hour of walking, we stumbled upon a little cafe, named Cafe Lavka overlooking the Vltava River which was exceptionally pretty. You can check them out here. One of those relaxing places where your mind wanders and inspiration seems to find you. I could have happily been left there with a notebook and pen and jotted down all the ideas that flew into my mind.

Vltava River
We continued on walking to the Charles Bridge, which was swarming with tourists, most of them armed with obnoxious selfie sticks that more than often I had to dodge. It was a platform for talented street artists, and musicians playing traditional Czech music (which actually sounded like old Scottish music). The views were well worth it for the river and to truly soak up the true history of this amazing city. Putting aside the buzz of tourists, you could easily saturate your mind with Prague's culture and transport yourself back in time. Of course once I crossed the bridge, and possibly four seasons all in one, I was tempted by the display of delicious looking ice-cream. Each and every building in Prague has such intricate detailing, some with imposing doors, others that just scream history, so much so, that you could almost imagine children hiding behind the windows, spying on the lines of patrolling soldiers outside during WW2. Prague was one of the only major cities in Europe not to be destroyed in WW2. The colours of the buildings bring such positivity to your mind - everything from peaches, yellows, greens, pinks and blues... the city boasts such eclectic styles and there really is so much to see. There is also such a plethora of gothic buildings, which seem so forboding, yet so magnetic! It would make the perfect location for a thriller movie - although that is definitely just my writer's mind wandering there! Prague is much bigger than I orginally thought, but with the perfect walking shoes, and probably a backpack, you could walk to all the sights.

View from Charles Bridge

Having done the typical touristy thing of jumping on the hop on hop off tour bus (which was a complete waste of time and awful service), I sat listening to the classical music through the headphones as the bus cruised down the untouched streets. Some of the facts piped through were incredible - the fact that women can walk around the streets and parks at midnight, and still feel safe, told me so much about the city. The one thing that I had been keen to do, as the park was literally right opposite our hotel, was stroll around and explore, as I'd heard the views at the top were incredible. Well, needless to say our feet gave way before we reached the top, but even half way up, you can see the most incredible views of the city. The park is called Kinskeho Zahrada and I can assure you, you wouldn't be disappointed with it. It's huge! You would probably need a full day just to explore the park itself, but it's very green, very pretty and lends itself perfectly to a romantic picnic!

Kinskeho Zahrada Park with stunning views
The sun came out!
Prague's Old Town is literally the heartbeat of the city - it's also the most commercialised, so be aware of the cafes that charge extra, and the apparent overabundence of pickpockets. In Old Town Square, you can see Prague's astronomical clock, which I had been told I had to see! An overwhelming amount of tourists (including myself) stopped to take a snap of it. The clock itself was first installed in 1410 in that exact spot. The workings of the clock are far too scientific for my creative brain to make sense of, but it's well worth a visit. I had already pre-booked a bite to eat at the U Prince Hotel in Old Town Square because it was a roof terrace and to me there is nothing better than lunch with a view! The food was wonderful, and filled with chatty American tourists, which was nice. You could feel the ambience, hear the hustle and hum of tourists and street performers below. Big thumbs up for the food too! Delicious cod and a lovely glass of merlot. You can see more from the U Price Hotel here. The weather in Prague was so unpredictable, sun one minute, rain the next, but honestly the rain added to the magic of the place.

The street with every designer label you could think of!
Old Town Square
Astronomical Clock
View from Hotel U Prince Roof Terrace
After being abandoned (pretty much) by the tour bus at the Castle, we followed the steady stream of tourist towards the most incredible view. By the side of the castle, you could see stunning panoramic views of the city - but one of those views that is just not captured accurately on camera at all, but one of those views that stays in your mind forever. A hazy mist seemed to fall over the entirety of the city, and the view was so vast that your eyes struggled to take it all in. Is well worth the visit just for the view even if you didn't want to visit the castle.

Prazsky Hrad - view from of the city from the Castle

On the way back to the hotel, the ominous clouds were descending upon us, and the heavens opened. After being dropped by the tour bus in downtown (miles away from our hotel) we wearily stepped off the bus, flung up the umbrella and headed for old town...I was desperate for a sip of something wet and warm. Preferably a hot chocolate with lashings of whipped cream! The prospect of an hour's walk in the wind and rain with wet feet wasn't one I relished. Then...our saviour arrived! We stumbled upon a stylish little restaurant called Rugantino, where we were welcomed by our super sweet waiter Martin who recommended their hot chocolate! After collapsing in the chair and desperately trying to salvage the curls in my dishevelled hair, the hot chocolate arrived - a cup of hot bubbly milk, accompanied by hazelnut chocolate on a wooden stick - it was a sort of DIY hot chocolate but was true nectar to me that night and tasted delicious!! The overall experience of the city was fabulous, the atmosphere is really electric, you will never ever need to look for a cafe or a bar because they are all over! I wish I'd been able to spend more time in Prague, because it's such an incredible city. I know I felt as though I'd visited a few countires all in one... it has such an Italian vibe to it too, mixed with eastern Europe, which makes it so magical. I kind of feel that if Florence and Budapest had a baby, it would be Prague!! I will be back. At some point. Of course I love to travel, and I have a long list of cities I'd love to tick off the list first, but I can hear Prague calling my name already! For anyone wondering where to take a long weekend, Prague is the place!!

Big shout out the the Red and Blue Design hotel for their kindness and a warm welcome. Highly recommend! Check their rates out here.

View from hotel corridor - where I snuck out at midnight to see the lights!
Breakfast! Prague style!
Pretty street near Prague Castle

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