In Session: Nada Y Nada


TROY – Tim Sarver, the mastermind behind the alternative project, Nada Y Nada, has a certain particularity about him that makes his music undeniably unique. Combining different elements of acoustic and electric guitars, along with a panoply of synth sounds, and a supporting rhythm section, Sarver carves his way through the noise of the industry quite nicely. Throughout the collection of tunes on Repeat, vulnerable, reverb-soaked lyrics sit on top of some pretty interestingly arranged instrumentation.

I had a chance to sit down with Tim recently. What follows is our conversation.

Tim Sarver. Photo provided.

Lucas Garrett: Tim, thanks for sitting down with us. How’re you doing?

Tim Sarver: Pretty good, how are you?

LG: I’m doing well, thank you. I like the name Nada Y Nada – nothing and nothing. Where did that come from?

TS: There is a short story by Ernest Hemingway called A Clean, Well-Lit Place, that I remember reading back in high school. When I saw it, I filed it away in the band names category in my brain. It has a bit of a ring to it. That story is all about deep loneliness, which is something that I’ve experienced a lot in my life. The story really resonated with me and felt meaningful. I just wanted to pull something from something that had meaning and sounded cool. Picking it, I was just a dumb sixteen-year-old.

LG: Tell us a bit about Nada Y Nada.

TS: I’ve been in and out of a few bands for a good long while. Probably was playing in bands from late teens to now. Nada Y Nada is all these songs that I’ve kind of written solo. The album, Repeat, has full-band arrangements. A good friend of mine, Scott Owens, played on the drums. Dan LaFave played keys. There’s a good amount of people hopping on different instruments. It has more ornate instrumentation and arrangements than I can play by myself live, but I had the songs for so long that I had built up, in my mind, a lot of different arrangements and instrumentations for them that I wasn’t really always able to do live, so I went in to this studio with Dan Maddalone and recorded them.

LG: Dan’s a nice guy.

TS: He is, yeah—a good pal of mine.

LG: Did the record end up sounding like what you thought of in your head?

TS: Something close to that. I feel I learned a lot in the process of recording about how to get things to be close to what I want them to sound like. The biggest thing I learned is to have everything demo’d out as much as possible before going in. I repeatedly had to give Dan a lot of thanks and praise for the amount of patience he had while I was in the studio figuring it out.

I think some of the songs are really very close to what I had in my head, and then some are ones that I might even want to revisit because of how far they are from what they sound like in my head. There might be new versions of a couple of them.

LG: Do you have any plans to go back into the studio?

TS: I really want to go in with a full record. If I can’t, I’ll do an EP. I feel like we’re all losing out on having full-length albums in a culture that leans a little more toward things that are more easily digestible. I, myself, have an incredibly short attention span, so I see that it’s a little bit harder for things that are bigger – things that are longer – to break through the same way that singles or thirty-second clips or TikToks can. There’s nothing wrong with that – there’s a place for that. I was just saying to a friend that those thirty-second clips are introducing people to a lot of new music.

LG: You talk a lot of albums. What were some of your favorite albums growing up?

TS: I’m big into Elliott Smith. He’s someone who has done a lot of very complicated instrumentation just by himself in the studio. That’s something that inspires me. Pedro the Lion is another band. It’s a project by David Bazan. His songwriting was one of the first major influences that I had and is still a major influence for me. The lyrics have consistently been so close to my heart, and a lot of the subject matter is falling away from religion, which is something really interesting to me, having grown up in a church.

If I could pick one album from each of those artists: Curse Your Branches, by David Bazan; Figure Eight, by Elliott Smith.

LG: On your record, what are you playing?

TS: I think there’s one track where Dan Maddalone played bass. Other than that, I did all the bass and guitar; I did some keys; I did the vocals. There’s a lot of MIDI on this kind of keyboard [shows instrument] where I’m cycling through different instruments. There’s one that has double bass on it or cello. There’s one that has church bell sounds on it.

LG: There’s a lot going on, as we talked about. Is that all intuitive for you, or have you had any kind of training in the area?

TS: It’s mostly intuitive. If I hear something in my head of how I want it to sound, sometimes it’s not as readily intuitive as I’d like it to be. Sometimes, it’s a struggle to find that sound. I’ll cycle through for hours and adjust audio until I find it. I’ve had a little bit of training: I’ve had guitar lessons and piano lessons. When it comes down to it, I rely on my ear more than anything.

LG: Where are you playing out next?

TS: I have

LG: You’ve talked about Hemingway… Is there any literary influence that goes into your writing?

TS: Lyrics are the biggest struggle for me. If I’m trying to get inspired to write lyrics, then I’ll take a little bit of a dive into literature. One of my biggest influences, for me, is David Foster Wallace. I like a lot of his work. He has a really good commencement speech he gave called “This is Water.” I think everybody should listen to it. I think it really gives a good foundation for how to think and how to include empathy in the way that we process our surroundings and people around us, which I think is really important in these times that we’re living in.

LG: You have a music video out for “Vice Versa.” How was that whole process and experience?

TS: That was really fun. It’s funny how it came about. One of the older bands that I was in had met up with a director to talk about doing a music video. This is a good six years ago, now. That music video never ended up happening, but I was chatting with the director at the end of the meeting we had with them. I was showing him one of the first demos of that Nada Y Nada song. Years later, I ran into that same director where I work. He asked if I wanted to do a video still. He took some time with the album to see if it gave him ideas, and he then pitched me his idea for the “Vice Versa” video, and I was very onboard for it. I could tell he had a sharp creative instinct. His name is Jimmy Arrant and we’re still good pals since then.

He really worked very quickly in a way that, even not being on a lot of film sets, I felt conscious of the fact that he was extremely efficient with how he worked. The camera-man, Lakota Ruby-Eck, was making note of how efficient and quick he was. It was just a really fun day. Everybody there was just very open to trying things out.

I could throw some of my suggestions into the music video and they’d make it in there. Jimmy was able to still get his vision completely executed the way he wanted it to be. We shot the whole thing in a day-and-a-half, and I think it turned out phenomenal for that span of time. I give all credit to him. He’s such a good director that I really have to tip my hat to him.

LG: Alright, Tim. I think that wraps this up!

TS: Thanks so much for doing this, man!

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