by Tracy Darlington
Nate Huss Interview
"It's all about love---it all comes down to love. We can't Bible thump people and tell them how wrong they are, or how ridiculous they are. We have to show through love the example in our lives of who Christ is." --Nate Huss
21-year-old Nate Huss, a Phoenix, Arizona-native is the youngest of eight adopted children in a ‘united nations family.’ His debut album Here With Me (Slanted Records) reflects his personal journey to self-discovery, a maturity and self-assurance well beyond his age and a confidence firmly rooted in the knowledge that God’s hand is on his shoulder.
Tracy: When did you first realize you wanted to be a musician?
Nate: I believe I was five or six years old—I sang for my grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary—at a church in Pennsylvania. At that moment I knew I wanted to do music!
Tell us a little about how you were discovered.
I had the opportunity to go to a competition in California (my brother sponsored me) in April of 2005. I didn’t place as a winner, but one of the judges came up to me afterwards and was just really encouraging. He told me that he saw something in me and encouraged me to go out to Music In The Rockies—which was being held three months later in August in Estes Park, Colorado. I went home and worked on my songs and worked on my stage performance. I ended up winning in Estes Park and God just used that win to open up a ton of doors. I moved to Nashville and worked on my debut records, ultimately ended up getting signed by Slanted Records, and here I am!
What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started in music?
Wow, that’s a great question! When I was younger and in high school I wanted to do music just for the joy of doing music. I wish I would’ve known then where my heart would be now so that I could’ve been more prepared spiritually and emotionally. I have a bigger heart for ministry now than I ever imagined I could have had. Not having that in high school and the first year of college—I regret I missed that time to really prepare for where I am today.
What would you say to someone who wants to get started in music but doesn’t know where to begin?
I would say conquer your local area—right where you are. Work really hard, play any coffee shop you can, any church that will let you perform your music, any little venue that will open its’ doors to you—no matter how small. Work really hard at your music. Surround yourself with better musicians than you who will encourage you to grow. If you have what it takes it will grow and start to show. You never know. The really good news is that with God in the mix, He can open any door for you.
Your debut album Here With Me reflects your personal journey as an artist. Can you explain that a little bit?
Growing up in an adoptive family with seven brothers and sisters, people would probably think I felt very connected, very loved and surrounded by a ton of people. But for some reason I felt so alone and so abandoned, never really thinking there was anyone in my life that really understood me.
Coming through high school it was pretty crazy off and on but into the first year of college I was gradually struck with the reality that no matter how far down I felt, no matter how lonely or misunderstood I might feel at times, God was with me. He was holding me. I realized if I could just grab a hold of the fact that He loves me and that He loved me in spite of my flaws and all the dumb things I had done I could be completely whole and satisfied in knowing He’s my daddy—and he wants to hold me and love me. It’s a message I love sharing with kids who really need to grab this concept, as I did.
Who are some of your musical influences?
Newsboys were a huge influence on me when I was growing up—Take Me To Your Leader and the Going Public records were a huge influence on me. Sanctus Real—I absolutely love them! Jeremy Camp was really with me in my first year of college. I also really love this band called Acceptance. My musical tastes vary. I grew up with soul influences from my brothers and sisters, and southern gospel was all my parents listened to, so I’m a real mixed bag in my musical influences and tastes!
What’s special to you about Here With Me?
Here With Me is really special to me because it speaks out loud to the heart of my insecurities and what I went through. It was really cool to finally put those thoughts on paper and ultimately put in song—giving me the opportunity of connecting with people who may be struggling with the same things I struggled with. Being able to talk to them and communicate through the music is really awesome to me. It’s cool to see the power of music to connect people to Christ.
What is your favorite song on the album and why?
My favorite song on the album is “Your Own”. It’s a song I wrote thanking my birth mother for the gift of life. It’s a very personal song to me—very close to my heart.
Share with us about that song.After going through high school and the first year of college really feeling bitter and angry towards my birth mother, I realized there was something very special about what she had done. God sent His only son to die on the cross for my sins—He made the sacrifice and suffered so I could have life. I think this is such a beautiful picture of what my birth mother did for me. Nine months of pregnancy, hours of labor—just to hand me over to someone else to raise as their own son—that is a sacrifice I will never be able to comprehend. The selflessness that goes along with that blows me away. It brought me to me knees. Since my outlet is writing, I was able to put those thoughts in this song.
How did you get involved with Mercy Ministries?
It’s really funny! I had never really heard of the work of Mercy Ministries until my manager sent me an e-mail one day early this spring and said, “Hey check out this website, and pray about it!” That was it. I didn’t hear anything more about it for two week or so. I spent that time just praying about it. We got together finally, and I found out more about the ministry of Mercy and the special program they have on adoption—it’s so amazing, so cool! I got to go through the onsite ministry in Nashville and meet with the staff, and see the amazing work they do. We started talking about partnering and it just was a total God thing. I feel it’s a real opportunity for me to give back. We are donating a portion of the sales from the album to Mercy Ministries which I’m really thrilled about. I know I probably would not be here if my mother hadn’t had the kind of support Mercy offers the girls that come through their doors.
If you were sitting across the table from someone who wasn’t a Christian and you wanted to tell them about God—what would you share?
Man—that’s a deep question! When I’m with someone who isn’t a Christian I usually try to ask questions. “What do you think of Christianity?” A lot of times people who aren’t Christians have strong reasons why they’re not—a lot of times they’ve been hurt or turned off of organized religion. I talk to them about how it’s not a religion, it’s a relationship. It’s developing a friendship that’s everlasting.
Are there any steps you take to stay on track spiritually?
I love reading spiritual materials and books. I try to stay focused in the Bible and in prayer. I do devotions and try to stay grounded in the Word. I also try to hang with people who are strong Christians who will keep me accountable and on track.
In your opinion what steps should people take if they want to get closer to God?
I think you have to surround yourself with people who will uplift you and keep you accountable. Get in the Word really seriously! Also stay connected through prayer!
Do you have any advice to someone trying to reach their friends for Christ?
It’s all about love—it all comes down to love. We can’t Bible thump people and tell them how wrong they are, or how ridiculous they are. We have to show through love and the example in our lives of who Christ is. When they see a difference in your life they’re going to ask questions. That raises the opportunity to be totally open and bold and share with them who Christ really is.
What are two things people might be surprised to know about you?
That I can move my eyes independently from each other—how wild is that! And I can squirt water out of my right eye! Is that the kind of thing you’re looking for? :)
When you’re not singing, what do you enjoy doing?
I love snowboarding! I love writing. I just enjoy relaxing and listening to music. Just sitting down and listening is really cool!
What did you have for breakfast this morning?
Wow—it’s 4:00 P.M. and I haven’t had breakfast yet! I stayed up very late writing last night and woke up at 3:00 in the afternoon! I’ve had a green tea—that’s it so far!
Three things in your refrigerator?
Cheese—always cheese. Always water. Usually eggs.
You’re next in line at Starbucks—what are you ordering?
If I meet you in line at Starbucks, I am ordering caramel frappuccino or a vanilla cream frappuccino.
What’s currently on your CD or iPod?
A band called Paramore. A bunch of cool Christian kids from Franklin, Tennessee who just came out with their first album.
When was the last time you cried?
Two days ago. I was leaving the love of my life—Emily—in Arizona to come back to Nashville. It was tough!
Anything else you’d like to say to Titletrakk.com readers?
I hope that the music will impact you for Christ, and I love questions so anyone who would like to ask me anything else can come to my MySpace. I answer my mail as much as I can, and I’d love to have you as my MySpace friend!
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.