Symbols of the West was born on the tail end of Nat Kendall releasing his luscious duo album with Paige Rasmussen called Songbird Sing. During a return to Montana, he picked up a vintage ukulele and the new songs started coming to life. “Something spoke to me, the range and quality of the uke opened this freedom in my songwriting that I’d never felt... I really couldn’t stop the melodies and lyrics that flourished during that point.”
Back in San Francisco, Nat started assembling a dream lineup to help bring the songs to life; synths, two ukes, drums and bass but soon realized there wasn’t a common direction amongst the players, romance snuck in and tumultuously faded and less than a year later that first attempt fell into complete disrepair leaving Kendall frustrated that he couldn’t materialize his vision.
Not the type to let it die; and knowing that voyages, oceanic culture and transformation were a common theme in the songs at hand, Nat retreated to a beach bungalow on the Santa Cruz cliffs to reconnect with music as his lover and dive deep into why these songs needed to get out. Months into this journey of personal exploration, and feeling truly alive, he realized his long time friend and spiritual gangster counselor, Lauren Stark, would be the perfect fit for the project.
Lauren, who had never before worked on a music project like this, signed up without hesitation. It began with an exploration of her voice and then moved to keys, percussion and more. On one of their early trials, in a tunnel under the Golden Gate Park for a drenched reverb sound, a group of kindergarteners gathered on one end frantically screaming “we love your music!” and when they turned around another group of admirers had gathered behind them in adoration. These unexpected reactions convinced Nat and Lauren that they had some special chemistry together.
The two wasted no time, renting a dollhouse of a studio in Santa Cruz to finalize and polish Nat’s arrangements and integrate Lauren’s vocals and synth work into the mix. This jump-started a wild ride of psychedelic floating palaces in Sausalito, teepee hideouts in Montana, highspeed outlaw van rides, explosives, powwows and more. The two finally landed back in San Francisco where they recorded and produced the full length album, A Thousand Lights, with L.A. based producer Chris Wonzer. Wonzer was a perfect fit, as he was able to work alongside Nat’s clear vision for the music, and encompass everything the pair hoped for. Miraculously, the year spent playing music together meant that Nat and Lauren were able to record the entire album in four days at Hyde Street Studios and Magnolia Records, capturing an authentic and raw sound.
The album is a family of ten songs, all brought to life through this surreal journey. Not one lacks heart, passion or authenticity; delivering an offering of truth that will inspire you to dance, beat your chest and fully live. While searching for someone to master the album, Nat serendipitously came across an old friend, TJ Lipple, who mastered the MGMT ‘Time To Pretend’ EP and had recorded Nat’s first release in 1998. TJ’s mastering gave the final grit and growl that the album needed.