Nathan White sits back in his chair, head down, grinning at his creation. The result of months worth of button pushing and mix checking had come to this: "Mirage."
The 14-year-old music producer from Amherst says it’s been exactly a day and a year since its official release. In that time, White has been able to build a name for himself in the crowded, ultra-competitive world of house music.
White, a lifelong resident of Western New York, has received international recognition for his music. His productions have been featured in large radio shows like Interstate Radio, curated by Dutch superstar deejay Ummet Ozcan; and they’ve accumulated an impressive 275,000 views on YouTube.
Nate is, in every sense of the word, a bedroom producer – a term used to refer to kids who create electronic music on a laptop in their room.
The availability of programs like FL Studio and Ableton allow young people with virtually no audio experience to create masterpieces of electronic music.
Nate has tapped into a global community of mostly teenagers, experimenting with new sounds months or sometimes years before they hit the mainstream – all this without any expensive gear or professional studios – just a cheap computer.
A complex array of colored rectangles or "regions" fit into a grid on Nate’s computer screen. Every region, Nate says, represents a new synth or instrument entering the composition, each on their own mix channel or "track."
Unlike a singer or instrumentalist, a producer is master of thousands of sounds and samples. It’s up to them to implement these sounds in an innovative way to create a single, unified piece.
To Nate, creating this kind of musical perfection is a coping mechanism of sorts.
"[Last year], I was just suffering through a lot of things emotionally," Nate says. "Now, those emotions can actually be let go through music. It’s sort of like a support for me."
On most weekend mornings, Nate wakes up, turns on his silver laptop computer and begins his usual routine. He listens to music, makes his own, and communicates with other kids across the world doing the exact same thing.
Except he can do it better. Nate’s unique ability to spot trends and follow them is exactly what sets him apart.
At the age of 12, Nate, releasing music under the alias "Lightstruck," pioneered the now massively popular "future bounce" genre with his songs "Mirage" and "Switch" – borrowing production techniques used in electro and pop to create a new, innovative sound.
"Since he was young and songs would come on the radio, he would always be drawn to the ones that ... would [later] be on the radio all the time," says his mother, Gretchen Koessler-White. "He’s always had, in my mind, an ear for things that come around a little while later as very popular."
She’s seen her son’s musical style change over the years: "He’s evolved," she says. "He’s definitely gone through different phases."
"He used to love dubstep," Nate’s younger brother, Andrew, interjects.
About two years ago, Nate arrived at house music. Drawn to the rhythmic consistency and unique energy of the genre, Nate soon began experimenting with his own productions. He was able to become part of what he describes as a group of "unique people coming together around [electronic] music," trying out new ideas and sounds, collaborating with other young producers over the internet.
Everything changed, however, when Nate’s collaboration with Lithuanian producer "Diellz" was picked up by "Illicit," an internationally respected house label.
This release, titled "Mirage," quickly gained support from Soundcloud podcasts, radio shows, and large YouTube channels like House Nation (1.6 million subscribers), Bass Boost (1.3 million subscribers), and House City (308,000 subscribers).
It was then that Nate’s music truly took off. Through the successful release of "Mirage," and its follow-up, "Switch," Nate, or "Lightstruck," was able to establish himself as a strong force in the house music scene.
Nate is still moving with the cutting edge. Even today, he’s always trying out new styles: "the community has opened [me] up [to] conversations about new genres," he says.
Having not released a house track in months, Nate is focusing on developing his new sound, pioneering a new genre. "Go with what moves you. In the end you’ll be a lot happier as an artist," he says.
If you’re looking for the next big thing, you won’t find it on the radio. In music’s digital age, innovation lives on the internet: in SoundCloud podcasts and YouTube playlists. Nathan White knows that.
Riley Hodin is a freshman at Amherst Central High School.