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Nathan of The Midway State on Playing Our Free Midnight Music Gig in Vancouver


That's The Midway State's cover version of Bryan Adams' Run To You. We think you'll agree that it's pretty good... In fact, it's much better than pretty good. The Midway State are Nathan, Daenen, Mike and Mike. They're based in Toronto, and today head to Vancouver to be part of our Kick Off to Culture Days celebrations. Friday, September 30, we're streaming live right here on our very website from 10am PT, up until 6pm - check out this page for info on all the stars that will be appearing, from George Stroumboulopoulos to Mamma Yamma.


Then, it's the Midnight Music concert. Hosted by Jian Ghomeshi, it features Stars, The New Pornographers and The Midway State. At 7pm, Grant Lawrence will host a Radio 3 Countdown show and Radio 3 will also stream the concert live beginning at 8pm PT. If you miss the original live stream or television broadcast, you can catch it on Saturday at noon on CBC TV and on Canada Live on Radio 2, Monday at 7pm.


We spoke with Nathan Ferraro from The Midway State about Canadian Culture and more, including working with Lady Gaga...


Have you been on the same bill before as The New Pornographers and Stars?


No, we haven't actually. This is one of those shows where everybody involved, from Jian to Stars to The New Pornographers is great. I've been a fan of Stars for a long time, and I've always looked up to the New Pornographers. It's pretty neat to be on that bill and to have it presented by Jian Ghomeshi. We feel really great about it.


What does Culture Days mean to you?


In Canada, it's really great because there is this sort of attention and quality and value given to the arts in general. I think that in a lot of places they're not so fortunate. I've just found being an artist in Canada you are supported by the whole public. I think that our society understands how important arts are to our culture as a whole. It makes sense for me on so many levels.


What do you think is the best thing Canadian culture has given to the world?


Neil Young! No, I mean, there's so much. Travelling across Canada and touring a lot as a musician you really do see every different aspect of it. I think when you travel around the world too. I'm sure everyone's been in a situation where you look like an American wherever you go but as soon as someone hears that you're Canadian they're really happy and they want to help you out.


Is there something you wish the world knew more about from Canadian arts?


The idea that you can come from a small team but, in terms of culture and art, that's not super important. It's very much like an internal filtering that we do as artists. We're able to come from this small culture where there's not a tonne of media or a tonne of worldwide sort of focus in the way that there might be for the UK or US. At the same time, it just really proves that art's such a personal thing and it can come from a really small place and still be monumentally impactful.


Has Neil Young had that kind of impact on you?


Absolutely, yeah. Especially in the last few years. I've just been so inspired, and whenever I'm looking for advice - career advice or fundamental philosophical artistic advice - I often find myself just watching interviews with Neil or reading things by Neil or looking at his poetry or his songs and it really resonates with me in a really honest way.


If there was one Canadian artist you could work with, would it be him?


Yeah, or maybe Joni Mitchell... I really love her too.


Back in 2009 did you work with Lady Gaga? That must have been interesting...


Yeah, it was very interesting. It's funny how life works that way. I grew up in Collingwood Ontario, y'know, which was a town of about 10,000 people when I grew up there. You find yourself in Grade 12 and you just start making your art in your bubble, next thing you know you're making a music video with Mrs. Gaga. Yeah, it was a really, really great experience. It was neat to see an artist on that level and sort of see first hand. I walked away from it with a lot of respect for her, she's a very, very driven and smart young individual. It was definitely a positive experience overall.


What's it like working with Gavin Brown? (Gavin Brown is one of the Cover Me Canada producers)


I love Gavin so much. He's the one that called me when I was in Grade 12 back in Collingwood and said "Nathan, I think you have something and I think we can work together. That'd be really great..." Our band worked with Gavin developing for years and years, he really taught us a lot of the fundamental things about music that stick with us today. He's just, as a producer and as an artist, he's one of the ones that has an infinite depth, if you know what I mean.


He's responsible for multiple Juno awards - you've been nominated already, but would it be a massive deal for you to win one?


Oh yeah, that'd be amazing. In 2009 I was nominated for songwriter of the year but it went to Dallas Green then. And I was actually just talking with friends about that at recently, saying how it was great to be nominated but I lost, and they said "well you can't win the first time". It would be really cool to one day win that award.


So you're in Vancouver - are you going to partake in any other activities for Culture Days?


We'll be around the event the whole weekend contributing wherever we can. The set's not just on TV but on the radio and online. Hopefully we'll meet some fellow Canadian artists.


Are you a Jimi Hendrix fan?


Yeah!


There is a poetry slam at the Jimi Hendrix Shrine on Friday at 6pm which I thought might tickle your fancy.


That sounds amazing. That sounds really cool. It's called the Jimi Hendrix Shrine?


Yep, on Main Street and Union.


Cool. That's absolutely something I'd love to check out!