Australian Pop Artist KESMAR Shares the Retro-Inspired Single + Video “Is It Me or Is It Love”
February 17, 2023 BY George Chammas
Today, Australian songwriter and producer KESMAR (aka Nathan Hawes) announces his debut album ALWAYS CHASING RAINBOWS and shares the new single + video “Is It Me or Is It Love” via Nettwerk.
Recorded to tape, the latest from KESMAR carries the warm glow of vintage production coupled with his buttery melodies. The accompanying video was shot and edited on film by Tas Wilson and sees Nathan glammed out in leopard-print robes, bell-bottomed jeans, and overstated make-up. The band gives a whimsical performance on an old-school bandstand and loosely calls to mind The Beatles’ “Hello Goodbye” music video from 1967. Listen & watch “Is it Me or Is It Love” on all digital retailers (here).
Nathan Hawes explains:
“ALWAYS CHASING RAINBOWS is my first full length body of work produced and written entirely by myself at my little home studio – ‘Dino Studios.’ It reminds me of a simpler time, just writing songs and making a damn record. I had quite a loose deadline so there never felt like there was any rush to just smash out a bunch of songs for an album. I really got to take my time and to be completely honest, 50% of it was figuring out how to plug gadgets in. If there is an easy way of recording something or playing a line, I’m going to do the opposite, not in a way of ‘look at me’ but I just like to do things the hard way or ‘impractical way ‘ some would say. After learning how to write songs front to back it quickly became known this is the way I have to do it and it resulted in my favorite batch of songs I’ve ever written.”
“Is It Me or Is It Love” follows “Change My Name,” “Day by Day,” and “Out of Luck,” which will appear on KESMAR’s debut album, ALWAYS CHASING RAINBOWS, out March 31st via Nettwerk.
Watch & Share “Is It Me or Is It Love” 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.”