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Acclaimed International Vocalist Nathan Pacheco on the power of “popera”

Acclaimed International Vocalist Nathan Pacheco on the power of “popera”


Nathan Pacheco is a classically trained tenor who has a passion for reaching out and uplifting people through music. Hailing from Northern Virginia with Brazilian heritage, Nathan’s exceptional voice and singing in native languages has wowed audiences worldwide. He has been featured globally including touring the United States, Canada, and Mexico with Yanni; performing with Latin singing sensation Olga Tañon; touring England, Scotland, and Wales with Katherine Jenkins and the National Symphony Orchestra; performing for Prince Charles in conjunction with the British Forces Foundation and the USO; performing with the San Diego Symphony and has been featured in various PBS television specials. His debut album, “Nathan Pacheco” was released by Disney Pearl in 2012, after which he embarked on his first solo tour.  Nathan’s latest classical/crossover album, “Nathan Pacheco II,” was helmed in part by Leo Z (Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli) and features songs in English, Spanish and Italian.

BREAKAWAY DAILY: Nathan, I love your latest single “Bring Him Home” from Les Misérables. What drew you to recording this song?

NATHAN: First of all, thank you very much. I have always loved Les Misérables. It has been one of my all time favorite musicals ever since my mom and sister took me to see it at the National Theater when I was about fifteen, a senior in high school. I didn’t know what to expect; it was the first musical that I had ever been to, but I remember being completely spellbound as I watched the actors, listened to the music and watched this beautiful story unfold. And I loved it so much that I went back twice before it left town! In the course of three months I saw it about three times! Ever since then it has been one of my favourite musicals. When I toured in the UK, my wife Katie and I would go see musicals on the West End in London on my days off and we made sure we saw Les Misérables. I have listened to different recordings of that song, and I have sung that song for quite a few years, but it wasn’t until my latest album that I decided I was going to do my own recording.

BREAKAWAY DAILY: You just released the music video for “Bring Him Home” that also features talented musicians (Chad Truman on the piano, Riley Bria on the guitar and Chelsea McGough on the cello) at a beautiful location (sky-high bridge) in Tennessee. It’s very cinematic! You went to new heights to film it. Why was it important for you to shoot a video for this song specifically and how did you get the idea to shoot it at that location?

NATHAN: I’m so glad you enjoyed the video. We had a lot of fun creating it. I mean, you know how the music business is nowadays, if you’re not doing music videos as artists then no one really knows about you. So I wanted to share my music and get it out there by making a video that would kind of match the emotion of the music. I thought the calm and picturesque setting of the hills of Tennessee would do just that.


BREAKAWAY DAILY: It very much captured the essence of the song. What bridge is in Tennessee?

NATHAN: We filmed at the Natchez Trace bridge just outside of Nashville. It really is a stunning location. You think it looks good on video…it’s even better in person. We found the location, probably over a year ago. It was when my wife Katie, little boy Emerson and I were just driving through the country side and we saw the bridge. We had passed it several times but we had never driven over it, we had only driven under it,. i just remember seeing the view and telling my wife “Katie, we need to figure out how to do a video here, this would be perfect!” And I didn’t know how we were going to do it because it’s an actual road and I wasn’t going to go through the hassle of getting the road shut down because that would have been too crazy! [LAUGHS]

BREAKAWAY DAILY: It was still pretty dangerous filming on a major road Nathan! You went to great lengths to film it. The road was still open to incoming traffic! Can you talk a bit about the filming process?  

NATHAN: You’re right – it was a little crazy, but I guess that added to the excitement of it all.  We showed up about 5:45 in the morning, right before sunrise so that we could capture the great lighting and we just went for it! I didn’t know what to expect because I knew that is was kind-of a less populated road, but I knew that cars would still be coming by. Sure enough, as soon as the sun started rising, people were on their way to work and there was a lot more people going to work than I thought there would be! So we had to stop and start a few times to let cars pass, but that kind of added to the adventure. Some drivers were racing by, so we would just hop to the shoulder, and waive to the people driving by. [LAUGHS] But it was absolutely gorgeous to be able to look out over that bridge and the beautiful hills of Tennessee. It was just stunning and breathtaking. I guess it was a little bit dangerous, but we stayed away from the edges of the bridge to where we weren’t going to go skydiving from Natchez Trace bridge! [LAUGHS] It it was tons of fun!

BREAKAWAY DAILY: Your music video for “Oceano” is also a visual treat and was produced and directed by multiple Emmy-award winner Alan Gibby.

NATHAN: I loved shooting this in Laguna Beach (CA), right on the water. It just happened to be the perfect day, so we dragged a piano on the beach, rounded up the team, and jammed out to “Oceano.” The song uses the ocean as a metaphor for the love and the dreams we experience in life. Just as the ocean is deeper and stronger than we many times realize, sometimes we can feel like we’re drowning as we go after our dreams. But as the song says, “It’s because of the love we feel … that allows us to overcome 1,000 storms.”

BREAKAWAY DAILY: “Oceano” featured cellist Tina Guo and Eric Rigler (who plays Uilleann Pipes and Penny Whistle, instruments popularized during the Renaissance). The song was also co-written with acclaimed producer Leo Z who you have been working with for a while now….

NATHAN: Yes, I’ve worked with Leo Z for a few years now. He’s a brilliant composer and producer responsible for this song. We’ve been performing it in live shows for the past three years, and it’s gone over so well that we decided to record it for my new album.

BREAKAWAY DAILY: Speaking of your new album, “Nathan Pecheco II” was recorded independently as opposed to your last record that was signed to Disney Pearl Series label. Why did you choose the independent route?

NATHAN: I started out in the music business with Yanni. I worked with him for a few years and then I was introduced to Disney. I signed with them for a few years, made my debut album with them, I toured with them, and I just had a great and positive experience working with Disney. I made a lot of great connections and they were very supportive in helping me record my debut album. But then, once I finished touring on my first album and everything kind of wrapped up with the first album, I just felt like the independent route was the best way for me to go.


BREAKAWAY DAILY: What producers did you work with on “Nathan Pacheco II?”  

NATHAN: I worked with four different music producers including Leo Z, who was actually the only producer on my first album. He’s worked with Josh Groban and several other people, so he brought his flavor to the album. I also worked with Thomas Bergersen, who’s behind so many of the trailers for films we see. He composes that cinematic, energetic and captivating music. He definitely brought that kind of vibe to the songs that he composed and produced on the album. I also worked with William Joseph. He’s not only a very accomplished composer, but pianist who’s worked with David Foster. Lastly, I worked with Colin O’Malley who composes for film, TV and several other things. So, I got these incredible producers and composers surrounding me for my second album and just let them bring the best they had to offer to the table. They all added their magic touch to the album. I can’t believe it has been a little bit over a year ago since it has been released, but I am very happy to keep sharing the music that was recorded on it. We did a few cover songs like “Bring Him Home” and “More” and we also included quite a few original songs as well.

BREAKAWAY DAILY: You have performed live in so many wonderful places around the world. What are some of your favorite places you have had the opportunity to visit?

NATHAN: There are so many neat places that I have been to. I love to travel because there are unique and incredible things about every place. But I must say that I have been partial to Europe. I think it was four year ago, when I was touring with the very successful metro soprano Catherine Jenkins that I just fell in love with everything about it. During the tour, my wife and I traveled throughout England, Scotland and Wales for a couple of months. It was just amazing! Going through these wonderful towns, driving through these picturesque countryside’s, seeing these cathedrals, buildings and cottages that were hundreds of years old. It was just incredible.


BREAKAWAY DAILY: I wish you would have put me in your suitcase! [LAUGHS] What has been one of your most memorable moments touring and on stage?

NATHAN: Performing in Royal Albert Hall in London will always be a memory I’ll remember and one of my all-time favorite experiences. It was a Christmas show and there was a full children’s choir, a full adult choir, the Welsh Guards playing the brass instruments, and a full symphony. We were all singing Christmas songs, and there were times in the concert when the entire audience joined in in these familiar Christmas carols. It was just stunning! It was surround sound, you know, nth degree! It was not only a choir behind me, but a full-on audience in front of me that were singing to these Christmas carols. It was such a wonderful experience that I will never forget it.

BREAKAWAY DAILY: That sounds incredible! What are some places you want to visit that you haven’t yet embarked upon?

NATHAN: There are still so many places I’d love to not only visit, but also perform. I have traveled to quite a few places, but you know, there are so many places in the world today that there are many places on my list! I’ve been to Italy, and even did a study abroad program there, but I’ve never performed there professionally. So many places in Italy are high on my list including Rome, Florence, Venice, Verona.

BREAKAWAY DAILY: If you could hop on the Breakaway Daily magical tour bus right now and be able to perform anywhere in the world, what are some of the stops you would like for it to take you?

NATHAN: I would absolutely love to sing to a sold out audience in Paris. Hop over to Switzerland, Germany, Austria. Sing for sold out stadiums in Rio and Sampaio in Brazil, and then hop over to Argentina, and then I would love to hop over to Japan… The list just goes on and on! But those are just a few places that I would really love to do a show in.

BREAKAWAY DAILY: I know that performing live means a lot to you. Especially with classical music, it is such a treat to be able to sit in the audience and hear someone so gifted perform live. What do you love most about being on stage?

NATHAN: Connecting with the audience…it’s just not the same singing in the shower! [LAUGHS] Performing live is kind of what I live for as a singer. As exciting as it is to go into a studio and record a song, there’s just something so much more magical about being able to perform live and connecting with people in a live atmosphere. That is really something that I just love. Being able to connect with people through music is one of the neatest things I’ve been able to experience in my life. It is definitely one of the things that I love the most about my career. 

There’s a song called “Nnessun Dorma,” and it is probably one of the most well loved songs in all of opera. And people who don’t even like opera, they usually like that song. So, pretty much every time there is a concert and I perform that song, it gets such a positive response because it’s a song that already has a  place in people’s hearts. It means something to them. It connects with them in a deep way. And when I am able to share that song, and perform it for them, it’s as if there’s an instant connection. People that I don’t know, that I haven’t met before, it’s almost as if all barriers are broken down and we feel comfortable around each other. We are friends, and it is something unique that happens as a result of music. We are able to be connected to people as a result of music, and that definitely happens more than any other way best in the live shows.

That is the power of music, it crosses all barriers and languages. Since your voice is so vital to you and your art, do you do anything while touring or recording to keep your voice healthy?

NATHAN: That’s actually one of the greatest challenges about touring. The voice is a fragile and fickle thing and it doesn’t work the same when you don’t take care of it and get adequate rest. Traveling from place to place, feeling jet-lag, and at times just feeling rundown can make it very challenging to be at your best.  Over the past ten years that I have been in the music business, it’s been tricky; the things that I can and can’t do in order to take care of my voice. For example, touring can be incredibly challenging because you are going from city to city and sometimes changing time zones, your flying at times and your vocal chords get dried out because of all the flying. So you have to kick into survival mode where you only focus on the basics when you’re on the road. You have to eat well, sleep well, keep hydrated, and do moderate exercise. And as long as you do those things, then you will be able to do your best. But if you get sick and you have to still deliver on the performances, then talk about something that is super stressful!

BREAKAWAY DAILY: Have you ever had to cancel a show due to being sick?

NATHAN: So far I have only had to cancel one show over the past ten years. That’s why taking care of yourself is one of the most important things that you have to do when your a singer because you are your instrument. If your voice is not working the way it should it’s kind of scary having to get up on stage and sing for people.

BREAKAWAY DAILY: I am sure you must have known at an early age that you had a special voice; but when did you know you wanted to pursue music as your life’s passion?

NATHAN: I’ve always loved to sing, I’ve always been involved in music in one way or another. It’s always been an enormous part of my life, I come from a musical family. But a turning point for me was when I did a study abroad program in Lucca, Italy. Just about thirty miles outside of Florence. I remember waking up every morning going to Italian class, going to acting class, eating lunch in front of this beautiful piazza, going to opera rehearsal, and at night eating great food and performing. While I was experiencing this incredible culture, eating great food, meeting amazing people, I kept on thinking “How do I make this my job? This is unbelievable!” That was back in 2004 and ever since that time, I pretty much decided that I was going to go for it. And it’s been a work in progress, but its been tons of fun ever since! Always an adventure!

BREAKAWAY DAILY: What’s on your playlist right now?

NATHAN: I love pop music, some people may not know this about me since I will sing more classical music or classical mixed with pop. My playlist is quite eclectic. Not only will I have movie soundtracks, but also Eminem, Enya, Adele, U2, Colplay, Simon and Garfunkel, Mumford & Sons – quite the unique list! I am influenced by all these types of music.

BREAKAWAY DAILY: You recently covered “Wake Me Up” by Avicii. With a voice powerful enough for opera and warm enough for pop music, do you enjoy singing popera as it’s been called?

NATHAN: Absolutely. In fact, one of the reasons why I sing this popera style is because I love how it mixes the classical and the pop together. I learned guitar when I was younger, and grew up listening to Pink Floyd, Dave Matthews Band, and the list goes on. And so when I find pop songs that speak to me, I love trying to make them my own.  

BREAKAWAY DAILY: Can you explain how you go about making popera?

NATHAN: What I like to do is take classical songs that speak to me, but also take pop songs that speak to me and sometimes sing the pop songs more pop, but other times kind of incorporate classical elements into those pop songs to where it will feature more of those classically trained tenor high notes, if you will. That is something that I love to do; blend the accessibility of the pop music with the strength of the classical music, as far as the tenor high-notes. 

BREAKAWAY DAILY: Your version of “More” (theme from Mondo Cane) and the music video, I am sure holds a special place in your heart. Can you talk a bit about that?

NATHAN: Well that song, is just one of the most beautiful love songs in my opinion. A lot of the songs that I sing are love songs, but now there is so much more fulfillment I feel in my heart that I am able to then express in these love songs that I sing. This song in particular has come to have so much more meaning since I got married, we had a child….and another one on the way! I wanted to include them in the music video because they are the fulfillment I’m singing about when I sing that song.

BREAKAWAY DAILY: Congratulations on your new addition to your family. What else can fans look forward to in the future from you Nathan?

NATHAN: It’s an exciting time; I’m working on a lot of things and very excited about my career right now. I’m working on new videos, new music, and an upcoming tour for the end of the year. Stay tuned for dates! I can’t wait to share not only the new videos and music, but also to share the music live for those able to make it to the shows. I will be on the road quote a bit and I cant wait to get out there and sing for everyone!

Nathan Pacheco: Website | Wikipedia | YouTube | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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