Nathan Haines is one of our best known entertainers. From his formative years in Auckland's early club scene to international acclaim, his louche style is as distinctive as his music. I sat down with Nathan and chatted with him about the last 30-plus years of knowing each other, his most recent accomplishments, turning 50 and what the future looks like.
You’ve been making a living from your music your entire career - give us a potted history of Nathan Haines from age 16 to now.
At that age I was playing The London Bar with my dad (bassist Kevin Haines), The Globe on Wakefield St and Hotel DeBrett with my friends in a band called the Jazz Committee. I left home at 17 and that's really when I started living the life of a musician - practising, writing and gigging. In 1991 I left for New York, where I stayed for three wonderful and inspiring years, and then in 1994 came back to NZ and made my first album Shift Left. Arriving in NYC as a 19-year old blew my mind and it was real formative stuff for me, living in the East Village and playing with great musicians.
In 1995 I moved to London and became part of the incredible dance music scene. I teamed up with Phil Asher and we made Sound Travels in 2000 and then Squire For Hire. My life really changed and I was playing all over the world, living the dream. Those records and that time are still very special to me - sadly Phil passed away in early 2021. He was a huge figure in my life and we were working on another album together - which I am finishing this year! I met my (now wife) Jaimie in 2002, and we got together in London in 2004. We have done so many great things together and she is a continual inspiration - and she makes my clothes!
In 2014 our son Zoot was born and with fatherhood came sobriety and further change, then in late 2018 I was diagnosed with an advanced throat cancer and after a very difficult couple of years I survived, losing everything in the process including my voice. What I didn't lose was my family and friends - now I am about to turn 50 and I am still here.
Tell us a little bit about your latest projects.
I am working on an album I started when Zoot was born with some amazing people on it (including the late Phil Asher). It's a tale of where I am at and what I've been through and it sounds beautiful. It will be produced and mixed by me in my new studio. Zoot Music Studios was started last year and is a small purpose built space with all my gear and vintage synths. It's a creative space to work in and we will mix and produce other people’s music.