Hometown: Janesville, Wis.
Major(s): Education and sociology
Nate Brault’15 found both a passion and a musical partner when he arrived at Beloit. In his second year at the college, the Janesville, Wis., native (and wide receiver on the Buccaneers football team) met Joshua Evans. With Nate rapping and Joshua singing the chorus, they created TROY&Eli, a hip-hop/rap duo who aim to break down barriers with their performances. (TROY Nathans was Nate’s first stage name as a solo rapping act; TROY stands for “The Rookie of the Year.” Eli is Joshua’s middle name.)
Nate and Joshua primarily record music at CELEB, the Center for Entrepreneurship in Liberal Education in Beloit, and they’ve performed on campus and around the region. Show My Soul and Go were TROY&Eli’s first released singles on soundcloud.com, which were followed by their first mixed album released in September 2013 through soundcloud.com.
On the inspiration behind Nate’s music:
My favorite thing to do is write. I’ve probably written over 200 songs. I don’t really release them; I just write them and whatever ones I think are most appealing to a larger audience are the ones I try to record. Even though I’m scrutinized for it−whether that’s a racial or unorthodox thing because people don’t affiliate me with hip-hop culture−this is what I like to do.
What the liberal arts in practice means to him:
It boils down to expanding what you thought you knew and being open to different perspectives and trying to apply them to different social and professional groups. To me, it means going outside of the box. It’s just that different feeling, and I think that’s kind of what we’re doing in our craft. We’re taking risks; we’re trying to be original.
How Beloit has helped and encouraged his music-making:
I think (the Beloit College community is) just so supportive. Everyone is so tight-knit. If you go to UW-Madison and try to circulate music, people might just throw your music in the trash as opposed to giving it a listen like they do around here.
On the end goal for TROY&Eli:
There’s this quote by Maya Angelou, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” And to me, that’s why I write. It’s my therapy; it’s my form of expression. And it’s something that I enjoy sharing with people. In addition to that, I think it’ll be really cool down the road when, hopefully, I have children and I can say, ‘I had this education…I participated in all of these realms, but at the same time I did what I loved on the side. And it was different−some people judged, and some people appreciated. But it doesn’t matter (what they think). You can do whatever makes you happy.’
On the biggest difference between first-semester, first-year and now:
I’m far less ignorant than I was. I just came into college so happy about everything, but everything I cared about was trivial. I had my eyes opened to things that really mattered, and that’s where I have found my voice. I like to take stances on issues I find important and things that I never would have even considered in high school. And I think the main thing is just advocating for people to express who they really are. In high school, I was always afraid to share who I really was and do music. But you gain so much perspective, and it’s all attributed to this small campus and the teachers who care about you—it’s amazing. I wanted to transfer after my first semester, and I wouldn’t trade (my Beloit experience) for anything now.
On one of his favorite TROY&Eli experiences, getting to record at the famed Chicago Recording Company after he won a music contest:
We were in the same studio (used by) Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, and Christina Aguilera. We worked with Lady Gaga’s sound engineer—we’re mastering one of the songs we recorded there. That was probably the most fun.
On his other favorite TROY&Eli experience:
When we (performed at) the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, the way that we were received after the show. People were interested in our passion; it wasn’t like a ‘you’re a popular person.’ It was a ‘You do this, and we’re interested.’ I’m Nate and he’s Josh, but they were calling, ‘Where’s Eli?’ and I’m like ‘Who’s Eli?’ I had to remember that it’s him! I think that would be the day. If people would refer to us as that; that would be the coolest.