Australian Indie Artist KESMAR Unveils the Groovy Pop Gem “Is It You I Miss”
March 31, 2023 BY Jason Currell
Today, Australian songwriter and producer KESMAR (aka Nathan Hawes) unveils another groovy indie-pop gem from his forthcoming debut album, ALWAYS CHASING RAINBOWS, sharing “Is It You I Miss.” The classic love song highlights KESMAR’s penchant for McCartney-esque choruses and arrangements that harken back to the best of the 1970s soft rock canon. Listen to “Is It You I Miss” on all digital retailers (here).
KESMAR explains: “This was a song that went through so many different versions. I really couldn’t pinpoint what I wanted to achieve; I ended up bringing it back to the absolute basics. Drums, bass, electric keyboard, and a guitar. As soon as I took out all the unneeded parts it fell into place. Working in isolation can drive you mad, but the payoff is equally as nice; making this record and learning how to make it in the process really pushed me, it pushed me to always do better, not to cut corners, and when recording on an 8-track it will bluntly reveal a good song or a bad song.”
Accompanying the new song is a fun-loving music video that stars KESMAR alongside his partner Jenaya Okpalanze. It was directed by Nikki Milan Houston and shot on film during the duo’s recent trip to Los Angeles. The visual emphasizes the vintage aesthetic with colorful transitions, funky props, and their impeccable throwback fashion sense.
KESMAR elaborates on how the video came together: “In the crazy world of social media you can find some of the closest friends. Before being friends with Nikki I was just a fan of her work. I reached out, ended up hanging out in LA then shooting a clip together, along with the help of her amazing partner Odie. Most of my clips have been self-directed and conceptualized, but for this track I gave total control to Nikki and she absolutely killed it in a small time frame too. We shot the whole thing in a day in a few different spots in LA, then boom it was finished! One of my favorite clips to date.”
KESMAR’s debut album, ALWAYS CHASING RAINBOWS, is out May 12th via Nettwerk.
Watch & Share “Is It You I Miss” Official Music Video:
KESMAR’s ALWAYS CHASING RAINBOWS is a bold and inviting new step for Sydney-based musician Nathan Hawes, showcasing an evolution in sound and songwriting that comes with immense personal growth as an artist. There’s a classic feel to these eight songs, with gorgeous melodies steeped in the soft-hued sounds of the 1970s—but ALWAYS CHASING RAINBOWS also sounds equally in step with Hawes’ contemporaries, cementing him as an exciting new voice in modern pop music.
This is the latest move from the already-accomplished Hawes, who took up guitar at a young age and was drawn to music since he was able to sing. After he adopted KESMAR as his recording moniker, Hawes dove deep into the sphere of self-production, gaining tons of analog studio know-how while falling in love with the golden-hued pop-rock he was raised on. “I’m such a sponge—when I find something, I love to learn everything about it,” he says, and after linking up with Tobias Priddle (“He’s the one who taught me how to put the pieces of the puzzle together”) his first EP as KESMAR, Up to You, saw release in 2019.
After releasing his dynamic second EP Forever Holiday in 2021, Hawes had planned on recording ALWAYS CHASING RAINBOWS with Priddle — but when Australia went under a second lockdown, he decided to take a different and more hands-on route. “I’d stay up all night and read interviews of how classic albums were recorded, and then I’d take those ideas into the studio,” he recalls while discussing the road to self-producing the record. “I started getting closer to the sound that I’d heard in my head all these years.”
An integral element of bringing those songs to life is Hawes’ analog approach to recording, as he wields musical technologies from the past to craft his utterly timeless sound. “My process of recording and recording on tape is something I practice almost daily at home,” he explains. “It’s a constant cycle — an incredibly simple way of recording that took me many months to learn — but I love the performance element of recording to tape. As I’m recording and playing all of the instruments myself, the tape machine is like a second person making me commit to my own ideas.”
And the album title itself draws from that strong sense of commitment that drives Hawes in his musical pursuits. “It’s about that feeling of being constantly dissatisfied, in a good way,” he explains. “Artists are always chasing something else, and for me it’s that song that captures a feeling that I hope to have forever.” While drawing from a wide range of influences from Jeff Lynne, Steely Dan, and the Beach Boys to cultishly beloved Scottish acts like Chris Rainbow and Pilot, Hawes struck out to “make something that was very organic-sounding—very real and raw. In an era where music can sound so perfect, I wanted to make everything sound as imperfect as I could.”
Picking up where Forever Holiday’s warm, impeccably produced tunes left off, ALWAYS CHASING RAINBOWS draws the listener in immediately with a heavenly opening title track featuring vocals from Flore Beneguigui of French disco-pop band L’Imperatrice.
“It’s the most true and honest music that I’ve made, because it’s been just me,” Hawes continues while discussing the overall aim of ALWAYS CHASING RAINBOWS, as well as how excited he is for his thrilling new direction to reach the general public. “I wanted to get the best out of me as an artist. Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve wanted to make this sort of music for a long time, and I can’t wait for them to hear it.”
Media Praise for KESMAR:
“The swinging backbeat and buoyant piano lines are replete with effortless charm, bound together by the warm organic feel of the analog production style. Meanwhile, Hawes’ melodies and immensely catchy chorus add an undeniable pop element.”
– Under the Radar
“KESMAR is able to import detail into his production style and give his audience a dreamy, lush song with breezy lyrics to create an effortless feeling like you’re floating on a velvety cloud in the middle of an open field — in the ’70s, of course.”
– The Luna Collective
“Gentle yet anthemic, with a hazy feel that strikes a balance between yacht rock and DIY bedroom pop… a vibrant summer mood, rooted in his signature sound of classic 70s-inspired artistry.”