It’s been a big year for Canadian pianist and composer Tim Nast. With his lifelong passion and early career having previously been put on hold so that he could raise his growing family, Nast re-launched his music career in 2019, paired with a fresh new album and a 12-date tour in the Ottawa region. He’s not just dipping his toe in the musical waters; he’s taking the plunge.
That verve is present throughout his new album, titled “Here”: it’s a full-throated celebration of existence, floating on Nast’s message of how truly extraordinary it is to be alive. Along with the ultimate goal of navigating his listeners to reflect upon that sentiment, his entirely instrumental 12-track album allows for each individual to “absorb the sound and the mood, which causes them to think their own thoughts,” Nast told Bytown Sound in a recent interview.
“These thoughts are the lyrics to my songs.”
The music speaks to a lifetime of immersion in song: having grown up on Vancouver Island, Tim’s entry into learning and playing piano was imposed from the early age of 6 by his mother, who taught him and all of his siblings to play. By the age of 14, Tim was allowed to choose for himself whether or not to continue on with the piano, and decided to take a step back. It was only a year before the lure of music was too strong and he returned full force, playing and composing incessantly.
“While other teenage boys were chasing girls, I was chasing melodic lines and composing endlessly on the piano, learning how notes curl into others, and chords set the framework,” said Nast. “I was surrounded by melody, even in my dreams. One morning, I woke with a full song composed in my head and I immediately headed to the piano where I played it in full. I recall my mother asking me where I had learned the new song and I told her I had dreamt it.”
A similar approach to songwriting has continued through his musical career. While it may seem somewhat unconventional to some, he describes it as mostly improvisational and “enter[ing] the piano as if it is an ocean and I am going for a swim.”
“Often I can just tell I have something inside me that needs to come out,” he said. “A melody or a feeling that needs to be birthed…these are my favourite times to sit at the piano. Almost always something magical happens.”
As many lifelong musicians do, Nast took a mid-career break from music to concentrate on raising his family. Time away can often change how one relates to music and the songwriting process, and when he returned to composition, he noticed a change in his creative process, as well as his relationship to music and sound.
“Now I let the music come to me. It’s a much gentler approach now, which I think is because I am older and, through the years, have gained a better understanding of myself,” said Nast. “I am no longer trying to compose, I am simply composing. I listen for the music, rather than trying to create it. It’s a lot like being very still in the ocean and letting the fish swim close.”
It’s a process he tries to encourage in his listeners as well. When live in concert, Tim actively tries to guide the crowd to authentically be in the moment, urging them to slow down and cherish the uniqueness of the space and place through sound. It’s a journey listeners have been willing to go along with, as one recent concert-goer even described Tim’s live performance as a “spiritual experience”.
“My goal with each concert is to share my music and help everyone forget about everything outside of the room and simply be in the moment,” said Nast. “It’s a beautiful experience.”
Now that he’s back in the water, expect a whole lot of music to emerge from Nast in 2020. He anticipates releasing two to three albums of original material, and will be doing so primarily through his website and online streaming platforms. He will also be focusing his live performances in the Ottawa-Montreal-Toronto triangle, along with a few shows in smaller nearby towns.
Tim’s final show of his 12-date tour in the Ottawa region is happening this coming Saturday, November 16 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Smiths Falls, doors at 7pm. You can still purchase tickets via Tim’s website here: https://www.timnast.com/tour.