Have music, will travel



Nathan Hartono is a singer, musician and an all-round talented guy. He's been making music and performing since the age of 14. Listen to him on his blog (nathandothartono). But for now, he tells us about his escapades and the best places for live music.

Describe the kind of traveler you are.

Very chill, but also very curious. My favorite thing to do when I travel is to rent a bike (assuming the city/place is bike friendly) or hop on the train and just get lost. I might Google Map or Yelp something every once in awhile, but most times I just pick a direction and go! I also love traveling alone. No schedules to follow, no party to please, OTOT (own time own target) ;)

What kind of destinations do you find yourself drawn to?

I do love cities. They're always so interesting to explore and they give a pretty cool representation of the country you're in and it's people. I'm not beachy, but I'm down with nature. I love spontaneous holidays. Ones that you decide on and leave for the week of. There's something very exciting about them, you feel like such an adventurer.

Do you travel for music?

More than I do for leisure. Haha...

What's a music mecca for you?

Boston. Where I went to school, Berklee, was the center of music for me. It was a magical place with some of the most amazing musicians I've ever met. I found myself as a performer, writer, and just as a person. I realized how much music meant to me and how much more I have left to do. It really put my music journey in perspective, so that'll always be my Mecca.

Which countries have a great music scene and why?

Indonesia and Taiwan (of course America too, but I always feel a little more alienated there, culturally). Both countries have amazing, thriving music industries. The people are so open to new music, it makes things very interesting for me as a songwriter. I'm never afraid to bring something new to the plate.

What are your favourite music venues?

In Boston, it's a huge mixed bag, I suggest getting the LiveNation app when in Boston because so many great performers pass through there on their tours. Chances are, if you are in Boston for the week, you've got at least 1 act you would want to catch there.
But if you're not into that scene, I recommend Wally's. A hole in the wall jazz club - blink and you'll miss it. And you do not want to miss it.

Taipei is known for their great "live-houses" - places where you can catch a great band perform with singers. A lot of the singers at these live-houses can often be recognized from TV singing competitions. Some good ones are EZ-5 and Riverside Cafe.

For something a little more jazz-oriented, you must check out Sappho.

In Singapore, the first two venues that come to mind are Timbre (preferably at Substation) and Wala Wala. Both are great hangs and amazing bands play there daily. If you're looking for amazing live jazz, BluJaz Cafe is a perennial favorite of mine. B28 also has some solid stuff going on too.

Riverside Cafe

Picutured above: Nathan performing at Riverside Cafe

Do you sing when you travel (i.e., for work and/or play)?

Often. When I travel for work of course it'll involve performing. But sometimes if I travel for play, I would sing in my room to myself, write music on the go, or even find open mics when I'm feeling restless.

What's the most memorable place you've traveled to to sing?

Maldives. It's the frickin Maldives. It was so unreal, some of the most picturesque moments ever, all in one place.


Picutred above: Maldives (photo credit: jod)

Do you write your own songs, and do you draw any inspiration from your travels?

Very much so. I love writing about stories that are mine, but sometimes what I find even more interesting is writing about the lives of others. I find that inspiration for that usually comes much easier in a foreign place. Where culture and daily life, are just so different from what I know. It almost feels like every sense is heightened, and I take in so much more, aurally, aesthetically and emotionally.

Share with us some of the songs you wrote while away from home

Thinkin Bout Love I wrote this song in Boston when I found myself exploring various genres. It was a very cool shift for myself musically, and I love performing it.

Wait for Me (It's Christmas) This was also written in Boston. It was when I first moved there, and it was pretty much my first time away from home for that long of a stretch. I wrote it out of sentiment and homesickness.

Tell us the craziest trip you have ever taken and why.

It was a solo trip to New York/Brooklyn. I just
needed to get away from all the craziness in school and Boston at the time. So I bought a bus ticket and packed my bags the same day I decided to leave. I spent 5 days in Brooklyn, rented a bike, found a hostel, couch surfed, open mic-ed, wrote music, read books, watched theatre, visited friends. It was a good time. Very zen.

Dream vacation home?

A treehouse in the Serengeti. I love being out of my element and that just sounds like the perfect place for that.

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Where to stay in Boston

This beautiful duplex on the 2nd & 3rd floor is a fully furnished 1800sf luxury apartment centrally located in Boston near the historic South End.

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Going to Boston? Check out more places to stay in Boston on Roomorama.