The synth-pop artist returns to Columbus to celebrate release of "Two By Tan"
“A melody and intrigue.” That is what Columbus native Nathan Snell hopes the listener will take away from his latest project, recorded under the name Tan. He will return to the city from his new home in Nashville, Tennessee — Snell moved there in 2012 — to perform a release show with DJs Scott and Erin Void on Friday, Aug. 23, at the Oracle.
Titled Two By Tan, the new EP bounces through different dance-friendly, synth-soaked soundscapes with enough lyrical content to spark the imagination but not enough to draw conclusions.
For example, over the pulsating beat of “(We’ll Have an) Election,” Snell repeats the title, possibly conjuring political topics. But Snell revealed the song is actually about a breakup.
“It typically starts with words for me,” Snell said, a surprising admission considering the dearth of Tan lyrics. Next comes the melody, which he hones on a miniKORG 700, one of several synthesizers he uses. As a one-man band, Snell said he tries to ensure his vocal and instrumental performances are the best they can be, but the magic is really in arranging.
“Nothing comes to me fully,” he added. “It's a long, hard process.”
Before forming Tan, Snell was performing melancholy pop under the name Anna Ranger. For the most part, he was writing and recording alone but could be seen onstage with other musicians.
“Playing live is more enjoyable with other people,” he said, “but it involves more rehearsal time, which is complicated to schedule.”
Seeing Snell live or featured in media is rare, as the musician seems to prefer a low profile. He is conservative with words, just as he is on record, and Snell said he isn’t swayed by outside influences.
“I would do what I’m doing no matter what,” he said.
Snell comes across as an artist who would rather express himself through his music, which prompts a lot of dancing. It’s difficult not to move to “When Do I Close My Eyes,” which he described as a political song, although listeners will have to fill in the blanks around lyrics regarding “cold war and civil war.”
“I use music as an escape,” Snell said. “I enjoy releasing music, and if people want to use it as an escape, that is up to them.”