Fox enjoying successful music career by ‘Chance’

Intellexual. Nate Fox left, Nico Segal right.

Kaelei Whitlatch

Hi, I'm Kaelei and I'm a senior at Southmoreland. I'm a member of National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, Concert Band, Show Choir, Highlander Choir, Musical Arts, Music Theatre club, The Future is Mine, Random Acts of Kindness, and Journalism. I love to play clarinet, write, and perform on stage. I plan to attend Robert Morris University with a major in Communications.
Kaelei Whitlatch
Intellexual. Nate Fox left, Nico Segal right. Photo credit: Pitchfork

Nate Fox’s humble beginnings started in Scottdale as a student at Southmoreland High School.

“When I was in the 7th grade, my friend Ryan Vasquez asked me to come over to his house one night and make a rap song with him. That night led to a group of my friends and I making different rap songs over the next few years,” Fox said. “At a certain point we needed original production for our songs, so I learned (how to use) a few software programs and found a niche for the production side, and I’ve stayed with it ever since.”

Fox, 31, is an established music producer living in Los Angeles. According to The Brain Music website, he has worked with the likes of Lil Wayne, Iggy Azalea, and most notably, Chance the Rapper.

Fox graduated from Southmoreland in 2005 and attended Cuyahoga Community College studying Recording Arts, as well as Slippery Rock University.

One day, years after creating music and sharing it with the world, going from city to city, his career took a turn when he met Chance the Rapper.

“I met Chance at a music festival called South by Southwest in Austin, Texas around 7 years ago. I had been doing music stuff in Cleveland and he was releasing stuff in Chicago, so we both had heard of each other when we met,” Fox said. “I gave him a CD which had some beats on it, those would become songs like ‘Juice’ and ‘Favorite Song.’ He called me one day and asked me to come to Chicago to help him make project called Acid Rap.”

Eventually, Fox needed to settle down, and “it only seemed right” to move to LA.

“I drove in a car with my friend Amy Narodovich from Pittsburgh to Cleveland, then St Louis, through Colorado to LA. I had been on tour for a couple years and it was time to live somewhere,” Fox told the Tam O’Shanter. “Having just done a publishing deal with Disney Music, a lot of the work I had scheduled was coming via LA.”

The Disney Music Group deal is “a joint venture” between DMG and producer Freddy Wexler’s company, the Brain, according to their website.

“I should have seen (the deal) coming,” Fox said on the Brain Music’s website. “My grandfather once had a job doing electrical work at Disneyland. He had one of the Disney cartoonists draw a picture of Goofy, and signed it to me. I’ve had it since I was a kid.”

While living in LA, Fox said it is “a blessing” to make music with Chance the Rapper, and cites his biggest professional accomplishment as winning a Grammy for Rap Album of the Year for Chance’s record Coloring Book.

“(Chance) has a very unique mind and very incorporative process. He is able to see everyone’s very special and particular skills and abilities and utilizes them to their fullest potential,” Fox said. “It’s very impressive and very similar to the way a great teacher operates. Criticism and critique are two separate things from what I’ve come to learn, and there is an art to delivering both. He has mastered it all and uses his gifts very well.”

Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment. Photo credit: Spin

Fox is also a part of the group Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment, who gained massive popularity after Chance the Rapper had influence with the group. The Social Experiment consists of producers Fox, Nico Segal (formerly known under the stage name Donnie Trumpet), Peter Cottontale, Greg Landfair Jr., and Chance the Rapper. Their album Surf, released in 2015 as a free download, amassed millions of downloads and streams. Their song “Sunday Candy” has been streamed over 116 million times according to Spotify.

More recently, the Social Experiment group has branched off, as Fox has joined forces with Segal to create their own record. The duo, under the name Intellexual, released a self titled collaborative album on April 12.

In an interview with Stereogum, Fox and Segal discussed the album and it’s “intersection of genres.”

“It’s very much a social comment on just where we are in general,” Fox told Stereogum. “I feel like we’re getting more towards the focus of people being people. And I think, for me, this album is a reflection of that, where it’s just music being music.”

This album has been a new endeavor for Fox, since he explored a new element of music he is “inexperienced” in – songwriting.

“I know what sounds good and what doesn’t sound good. Melodies and singing, I understand. As far as words, it was a new process for me,” Fox told Complex. “I was really able to learn constantly from, not just (Segal), but everybody involved – and how they wrote, and what they wrote about, and the ways they looked at things.”

Fox said to Stereogum that he is looking forward to the future of Intellexual through live experiences.

“Fortunately, we’re in an age where technology is moving very quickly and music as a whole hasn’t fully embraced the relationship that could be there between those two worlds,” Fox told Stereogum. “What we’ve done is started to explore some of the possibilities and capabilities of today’s technology and how to present music with it. So we do have some really cool things in the works.”

In an interview with Billboard magazine, Fox talked about the album and what he has learned from creating it.

“I’m most proud of our personal and professional growth from this project,” Fox said. “Both (Segal) and I challenged ourselves to the max and I think we both came out much better from it.”

Even though Fox lives a busy life working on many various projects throughout the country, he is still thankful for his family back in southwestern Pennsylvania.     

“My family has always been supportive of my happiness and my health. They have always wanted the best for me and that has meant different things at different times,” Fox said. “I was fortunate enough to learn early on in life that my parents are also people. It seems like a simple thing to understand, but it takes a special amount of attention and perception to really grasp.

“People will not always agree and people are not always right, but people can always love you,” Fox continued. “I visit my mom, dad, sister, brother, and my new nephews as much as possible. I mainly see them during holidays and special events, but when time allows I sneak my way back into southwest PA.”

Fox said that as a member of the class of 2005, through his time at Southmoreland he experienced a shift in society.

“Southmoreland at that time to me was at a final stage of a certain time. We were some of the last kids who would know about both life with and without the Internet, Facebook, and Twitter. A lot of the teachers at that time were making that big ‘R’ word (retirement) life choice and it just seemed like things were getting ready to change, not just at Southmoreland but in the world all together,” Fox said. “I think for some of us, we knew it did, and we knew it would, and felt that, and embraced it. I would like to think I was in that category, but who knows?”

Southmoreland gave Fox “a sense of community.”

“Southmoreland gave a very strong understanding of right and wrong and when it’s OK to push the rules and when to follow them,” Fox said. “I think those are very important social functions that have helped tremendously in navigating a very vast scape of different types of people, with many many backgrounds and ideas that I frequently encounter in the entertainment world.”

Fox said that English teacher Mr. Chuck Brittain made a huge impact on his life.

“I would have never expected that someone like Mr. Brittain and his attention to detail, his punctuation on time management, and his demand for TOP quality every time would reflect so much into MY life,” Fox said. “I appreciate him so much and think only great thoughts about our time together at SHS. I’ll always be indebted to the amount of praise he gave me for my good work, and the scorn he gave me for knowing I could be better.”

One day, when Fox was in high school, his mother came to school with him and sat in on his classes. When asked about his memories of the day, Fox said he “very much so” remembers it, as his family reminds him of it.

“My main memory of that day is how frequently my mom was getting asked to prom. I couldn’t help but laugh about that, I mean, the dudes at school weren’t anywhere near in my mom’s league,” Fox said. “I also wasn’t even upset about it; I felt like I had a pretty solid understanding of the point she was trying to make, plus all my friends are hilarious people that made really funny jokes about it all day, so it kept the spirits high.”

From Scottdale to Los Angeles, Fox has grown professionally and personally.

“To the teachers of Southmoreland: remember that any of these kids could become absolutely anything. Do yoga and meditation during summer break and holidays, and drink a fresh squeezed juice with your coffee,” Fox said. “I apologize if I ever caused any stress to any of you. I appreciate your patience and understanding. Don’t ever forget you lead our future leaders.

“To the current students of Southmoreland, please know that the world is a big place,” he continued. “Your dreams can be big, there’s enough out there to live them and people out there that want the same things. Do not limit your goals and aspirations.”

Photo Credit: TribLive

About Kaelei Whitlatch
Hi, I'm Kaelei and I'm a senior at Southmoreland. I'm a member of National Honor Society, Tri-M Music Honor Society, Concert Band, Show Choir, Highlander Choir, Musical Arts, Music Theatre club, The Future is Mine, Random Acts of Kindness, and Journalism. I love to play clarinet, write, and perform on stage. I plan to attend Robert Morris University with a major in Communications.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.