Nat Johnson by Andy Brown

Nat Johnson is a singer-songwriter and guitarist based in Sheffield, UK. Nat’s work has earned her national press acclaim, songwriting commissions, several live sessions for BBC 6 Music and support from various BBC DJs including Gideon Coe, Lauren Laverne, Steve Lamacq, Tom Ravenscroft, Marc Riley, Tom Robinson and Janice Long.

Nat’s first outfit Monkey Swallows the Universe (2003-2008) drew praise from everyone from the Guardian to the Sun with attention focused on Nat’s songwriting, lyricism and “golden” vocals. Highlights for MSTU included performing on Radio 4’s Loose Ends and for both Marc Riley and Gideon Coe on BBC 6 Music, touring with Richard Hawley, Camera Obscura and the Long Blondes, appearances at Green Man, End of the Road, Latitude and other festivals and inclusion on Rough Trade’s Counter Culture 06 compilation. After MSTU split in 2008, Nat released a solo single Dirty Rotten Soul (Steve Lamacq’s Single of the Week on its release) and then formed Nat Johnson & the Figureheads; releasing albums on Damaged Goods / Thee SPC and recording sessions for 6 Music’s Marc Riley and Tom Robinson and XFM’s John Kennedy.

In late 2014 Nat released a solo album, Neighbour of the Year on her own label, Straw & Hay Records. Lauren Laverne called it “a very beautiful record indeed,” and Subba Cultcha hailed it as “a treat for fans of PJ Harvey and Alela Diane”. Two singles were also released from the album: Not Now, Horse and DOG; the latter making an impact on YouTube with its animated video receiving 50k+ views in its first week.

Recent projects have included a commission to write new work about the Brontë sisters, resulting in the musical triptych ‘The Liberty System’, the Arts Council supported ‘Roving Women: Nat Johnson plays Connie Converse’ (which garnered a further live Gideon Coe session), contributions to a University of Sheffield songwriting course, a collaboration with The Beautiful South’s Dave Rotheray, appearances at various festivals and support slots with Low, Rozi Plain, Marika Hackman and others . Nat is often accompanied by her band: Katherine Jackson, Hannah Cartledge, Oliver Allchin, Chris Loftus and Neil Piper, pictured here performing with members of Cornerstone Brass Band.

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Monkey Swallows the Universe:
“Nat Johnson has a voice that can do withering as well as whimsical” – NME
“Gorgeous vocals” – The Guardian
“Nat Johnson’s at times vaguely Smiths-like melodies and beautiful, Tracey Thornesque voice…” – The Times
“(MSTU’s) biggest gift is the sweet, fragile, alluring voice of Nat” – The Sun

Nat Johnson & the Figureheads:
“Like a cross-pollination of Yo La Tengo and the ‘nu-folk’ of Laura Marling” – Subba Cultcha
“Sensitive Smiths-inflected guitar rock with a splash of americana” – The Mirror
“A lovely winsome voice, but one undercut with a genuine melancholy as it picks it way through always thoughtful and cleverly expressed songs” – Sounds XP

Nat Johnson:
“A treat for fans of PJ Harvey and Alela Diane” – Subba Cultcha
“A very beautiful record indeed.” – Lauren Laverne on Neighbour of the Year
“Witty, poignant, classy and heartfelt” – Our Favourite Places
“Inherently charming” – Shout4Music

Discography / Projects

The Liberty System (2016) CD / iTunes / Bandcamp
Commissioned EP about the Brontë sisters. Included performances at several literary festivals. Limited edition hand-numbered CD with three covers to choose from.

Sheffield Shanty II (2016) iTunes / Bandcamp / Video
Single to mark ten years since the release of Monkey Swallows the Universe’s debut album, The Bright Carvings

Lonesome Lake (2015) Physical copies sold out / iTunes  / Bandcamp
EP featuring ‘Condor’ and ‘Lonely in the Dark’ plus a version of Connie Converse’s ‘Talkin’ Like You’

Roving Women: Nat Johnson plays Connie Converse (2015)
Arts Council supported project featuring Cornerstone Brass and filmmaker Andrea Kannes. Performed at Sensoria Festival, Hebden Bridge Arts Festival and the Lexington

How to Write Your First Song (2015)
A Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) by The University of Sheffield. Nat gave songwriting advice and gave a performance helping to demonstrate song structure.

Neighbour of the Year (2014) Selected record shops / Bandcamp / Amazon / iTunes
Solo album released on 10” clear vinyl / CD / digital
“A treat for fans of PJ Harvey and Alela Diane” – Subba Cultcha
“A very beautiful record indeed.” – Lauren Laverne

DOG (2014) iTunes / Bandcamp / Video
Single from Neighbour of the Year, with animated video

Without Feathers (2013) Bandcamp
Collaborative EP with Emma Kupa and Rory McVicar

I’m Across, I’m Ashore (2012) Amazon / Bandcamp / iTunes
Album by Nat Johnson & the Figureheads, released by Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation. “A soaring second album…brimming with musical variety and songwriting maturity 4*” – The Mirror

The Life of Birds – Dave Rotheray (2010) Amazon
Nat co-wrote and performed ‘Flying Lessons’ on Dave Rotheray’s album. This song has also been rerecorded by Irish singer-songwriter Eleanor McEvoy, renamed ‘Land in the Water’.

Another Sleepless Night with Rory McVicar (2010) iTunes
Nat recorded backing vocals on several tracks on Rory’s album.

What the Heart Pours Into (2011) Physical copies sold out/ iTunes
Nat Johnson & the Figureheads EP featuring ‘Margot’, ‘We Stole Light’ and ‘Mick Kelly’

Roman Radio (2009) Damaged Goods / iTunes 
First album by Nat Johnson & the Figureheads, featuring the singles ‘Dirty Rotten Soul’ and ‘Wasted’

Dirty Rotten Soul (2008) Amazon / iTunes
Solo single. Steve Lamacq’s Single of the Week on BBC 6 Music

The Casket Letters (2007) Loose Records / Bandcamp / iTunes
Second album by Monkey Swallows the Universe, featuring the singles ‘Bloodline’, ‘Science’ and ‘Little Polveir’. “The band are ghostly on Gravestones and giddy on Matterhoney’s waltzing pop, but it’s their maturity and restraint that impresses.” – The Guardian

The Bright Carvings (2006) Bandcamp / iTunes
Debut album by Monkey Swallows the Universe. Featuring the singles ‘Sheffield Shanty’ and ‘Jimmy Down the Well’.


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