Nate Qi said about this beautiful mesmerizing song:
“I wrote ‘First Love’ while crying on a subway car. That day, everything went wrong. I was starting a new degree after giving up on music and felt like I was failing miserably. I thought about how I left my mom in the motherland to pursue my muse. And now, my muse has left me. It all felt like a cycle of regret, betrayal, and heartbreak.
In the video, Bao Ngo, the director (Squirrel Flower, Mitski), and I chose a disembodied mannequin hand to symbolize isolation and severed belonging. The hand represents nurture, care, and labor. It corresponds with the astrological archetype of Cancer the Crab and the Mother Moon. In contrast, the fake hand emits a strangeness and stiffness that can never replace the care of the true mother. We were inspired both by surrealism and Wong Kar Wai films.
As a queer immigrant artist, I often feel like an outsider to my own culture and family. The final scene in the video represents a ritual we must all go through: releasing ourselves from the womb, the comfort zone so we can dance freely into the night.”
Few words about Nate Qi:
Born in Jakarta and based in Brooklyn, singer-songwriter-producer Nate Qi disguises struggles of familial and communal bonds as melancholic dream pop ballads. His tender, vulnerable baritone shimmers through warm analog soundscapes that blend MIDI synths with acoustic instruments.
Despite his extensive conservatory training as a classical pianist, he describes the songwriting process as magical and intuitive. “I nearly gave up on music during my fifth year of classical piano training in conservatory. I thought my well of love for music had run dry. Then, these songs came to visit me as if by magic. All I had to do was to get out of the way.”
Nate considers his debut album, Elementary Love, as a milestone in his self-reclamation journey. “I grew up facing bullies in school under the iron fists of collectivistic, fear-based religious programming. In defiance, I aspired to be a queer, whispery version of Karen Carpenter when I grow up. Her cathartic honesty about struggling to fit in kept me alive. I want to make music that helps people get through their shit – breakups, oppressive self-talk, dull routines. Music that makes you feel a little less alone.”
In his spare time, Nate studies the movements of planetary bodies, crafts his own tarot spreads, and secretly ponders if he is the masculine-leaning non-binary reincarnation of Ms. Carpenter.
Reviewed by Nagamag on
July 17, 2020
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