The Glasgow Guardian interviews Nathan Evans; a former postman from Airdrie who found overnight fame when his covers of sea-shanties blew up on TikTok, gaining viral fame and a three record-deal.
I’ll admit it – I’m far too obsessed with TikTok for my own good. And, as the overly avid fan of the app that I am, I pride myself on being used to even its weirdest trends. But in late December, on a dreary winter morning, I found myself plunged into completely unfamiliar depths upon opening my "For You" page.
Video after video, following me like the sweet song of a siren, were the melodies of sea-shanties – countless people covering, remixing and indulging in what I and undoubtedly others thought to be a dead form of music. But, seemingly overnight, someone had coaxed the sea-shanty to rise from its watery grave.
Nathan Evans, a former postie from Airdrie, poured the rest of his time into his TikTok account to indulge in his lifelong passion of music by covering songs. And, after months of serenading his viewers with shanties at initial request of a follower, Evans completely rocked the boat when his cover of 19th century New Zealand banger Wellerman went viral. Evans has now hit multiple No. 1 spots on charts across the UK and globally for the cover and is looking forward to a record deal with Polydor Records.
The Glasgow Guardian: Have you always had a passion for music?
Nathan: Yeah. I’ve always loved music. I’ve always sang and I’ve always written songs. I grew up singing – my mum and dad; they did karaoke, they were entertainers. And I always went along, and, if I could, I’d take my guitar and sing a few songs with them. So, yeah, music’s always been a big passion and a big part of my life.
GG: Why a sea-shanty?
Nathan: I made my account back in January last year, and it was a couple of months later when people started leaving comments like, “I think you’d be good at singing this.” It was in July when somebody said “I think you’d be good at a sea shanty – it’s a bit different, it’s called Leave Her Johnny. Could you sing that?” So, I went away, done some research, came back and sang that song. And the feedback was amazing, so I then just carried on doing what I was doing, singing away, and the comments were then “Could you do the Drunken Sailor? Could you do The Scotsman? Could you do the Wellerman?” So, I made a list of all the songs I was planning on doing, and I finally got round to doing the Wellerman, and [that’s] the one that went crazy in December.
GG: So it was a good year of just working your hardest on TikTok, then?
Nathan: Pretty much. I was just being consistent and constantly uploading.
GG: How did you feel when you realised you’d gone completely viral? What was that like for you?
Nathan: It was crazy because I was watching the views and in the first few days it was going 700k, 800k, and then it passed a million and I was like, “Oh my God. That’s the fastest I’ve ever reached a million views.” And then it just kept going, it didn’t slow down. There was so much feedback and duets from everybody, and it’s still going on now, it’s still getting bigger. Before you know it [the remix is] getting played on the radio, and everybody’s going crazy for it. It all just happened so fast.
GG: And any clue why you did (go viral)?
Nathan: I think it’s to do with the song, because it was a sea shanty. Everybody’s stuck in their house, everybody feels the same, so everybody saw that video. And it gives you a smile – you can join in, you can clap your hands, you can stamp your feet, you can sing along. You can go onto TikTok and do a duet, have other people join in. And I think that’s part of it – the fact that everybody’s feeling alone, and this gives you a feeling of a big family and togetherness.
GG: You’ve now got a 3-album record deal. What’s your plans with that? What sort of music are you wanting to create?
Nathan: I sing and I write my own songs, I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. So hopefully everyone will be able to hear my own sound and get to hear my own songs, and hopefully, the feedback is just as good. Maybe even by the end of the year, you’ll see an album coming. We’ll wait and see how it goes.
GG: How’s life and future prospects looking now?
Nathan: Just looking forward. Hopefully the single can reach No.1 on the charts; that would be amazing. And then it’s just focusing on music and trying to get more out there and keep it going. And hopefully everybody just carries on the journey with me and the feedback’s just as good as it has been so far.
GG: Finally – any chance you’re going to miss your job as a postie?
Nathan: To be fair, I’ve said this before – if it wasn’t for music, I could see myself doing this for the rest of my life. So yeah, I’ll definitely miss it!
You can find more of Nathan, including his chart-topping sea-shanties singles (out now), here:
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