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(Image: Hayley Young)

Artist of the Week: Nathan Nzanga

Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you! See all of our past Artists of the Week in our dedicated section.

Seattle Refined: How long have you been writing and performing music?
Nathan Nzanga: When I was five, my mom put my siblings and me in church children's choir, and I've been performing ever since — whether that be choir or musical theater. When I was in middle school, I started writing my own lyrics, and I started a music group with my friends and my little brother.

Tell us about your artistic process and the different stages that work into it.
I just pick my friend's brains on what they have going on in their lives and try to use those conversations as a spark. Usually, I go into the woods or cool spots within nature and take in what the world gives me. I take a lot of inspiration from day to day activities/conversations. Sometimes it comes naturally. Other times, I have to really search for it.

Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes from genuine conversations and taking in what the world has to offer. Reflection is important.

What musical artists do you take inspiration from?
J Cole, Kendrick, Drake, Wale, Tyler, Beyoncé, Nina Simone, Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp, Black Eyed Peas, Andre 3000, T-Pain, Kanye, The Beach Boys, Queen, Bob Dylan, Chance and Emeli Sande.

What do you most like to write about?
I enjoy writing about what it means to be a human being. I think character development is something a lot of listeners can relate to. Ultimately I like to dive deeper into what it means to be the best version of myself. A lot of my lyrics are evoked from normal conversations I have on a day to day.

Do you have one song that means more to you or is extremely special to you?
"Seeds" was one of the first songs I wrote. I was 15, and I was feeling lost — and it still holds the same weight today. Occasionally, I still struggle with believing in myself, but writing "seeds" helped me see the light at the end of the tunnel. I hope that song can offer the same light for others.

What experiences in your life have helped to shape your music?
I grew up with two brothers and a sister, so we were pretty competitive — whether that be NBA2K or rap battles. Growing up in church choir is a huge part of who I am. Musical theatre also helped with my storytelling ability. Being a first-generation Congolese American is a big part of my identity. Honestly, my upbringing as a whole really made me who I am today, and if it wasn't for the sacrifices that my parents made, I wouldn't be here.

If we want to see more of your work, where should we go to find it?
We just dropped a short film called "Enough: A Dream, A Nightmare, A Musical" on YouTube! I also have three mixtapes and a few singles on all streaming platforms, as well as an album on the way titled "Accountabilabuddy"! You can stay up to date with all of the tunes at

Any upcoming projects and/ or performances?
I'm really excited about finally putting out "Enough." It's a film that's been 11 years in the making. It's a real chance to grow with me and my evolution of human and artist. I hope it allows people to be vulnerable and empathetic towards one another. I'll be performing live stream concerts at the Fremont Abbey as well as Western Washington University on Feb. 6. My next project, "Acountabilibuddy," will be dropping very soon. You can learn more about "Enough" here.

What is next for you? Anything you're working on right now that you're really excited about?
Caleb Slain ("Enough" director) and I are going on a school tour, sharing the movie with kids and adults around the country. Hopefully, we can spread this movie around the world. I'm really just itching to perform for y'all again! My friends and I have been stockpiling a lot of music for the last few years, so we're really excited to unleash the vault soon.

Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
I'm more of a tea guy, to be honest. Shoutout, Yerba Mate.