Kiowa Gordon, Hualapai, is best known for playing Embry Call in the Twilight Saga movies. He appeared in the last three, and will also be in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2, the final installment, due to be released in November.
But acting is just one of his two passions — the other is music. After four years of concentrating on acting, and oh-by-the-way appearing in some of the biggest blockbusters of all time, he’s getting back to music; last week, he released his first single, “Taking Back My Summer,” recorded under the alias Nature Baby. It can be found on Soundcloud and iTunes. To keep up with his artistic pursuits, follow him on Twitter @CircaKiGordon.
Gordon took a few moments to give Indian Country Today Media Network the story behind this latest venture and his continuing career in Hollywood.
What’s your history as a musician?
As far as I can remember, I’ve been making noises with my mouth and I’ve always loved it. I never cared what anyone thought. I didn’t start off so great. My voice gets really annoying. I had to keep testing myself and pushing myself to do better vocally and get a grasp on the power of my voice. I never classically trained or had singing lessons. At one point I wanted to play drums. I love the booming, crashing and resonating sounds. Then for some reason in junior high, when I lived in Mesa back in 2004, my best friend Luke Blanchard wanted to start a band and have me play the drums. I’ve never played the drums before but my mom bought me a kit from a pawnshop for about $100. The kit was out of tune and worn. I had no idea what I was doing and couldn’t keep a beat, but I still banged on those drums. That didn’t last too long though.
What encouraged you to give it another shot?
In 2006 I moved to London for a year, so for a while I wasn’t doing anything musically, but I was always determined to sing in a band. I moved back to Arizona in 2007 where Luke and I tried once again to start a band. This time it was metal. I was supposed to do really high pitched screeching screams. That didn’t last either. I watched Circa Survive play the Warped Tour in the summer of ’07, and as soon as it was over I was inspired to train my voice to its full potential.
Had you already begun your acting career?
No, in 2008 I moved to Cave Creek, Arizona and took an acting class in my new high school and had a lot of fun with it. My mom has been into acting since I could remember as well. We love to watch movies too, even bad ones to learn from them. Then from there I was on the verge of graduating and I got the opportunity to audition for The Twilight Saga: New Moon. After I booked the gig and finished filming, I moved to L.A. to pursue my acting career further.
At that point would you say you were choosing acting over music?
I was living with my brother Josh for a bit and I started to itch for music. I wanted all my old friends with me and to make a band that focused on blending a lot of different genres. In January of 2010 I regrouped with Luke, who had taken, like, six years of guitar lessons. Bill Fell played keyboard for forever and Randy Leyva, who only taught himself for 2 years on drums. We were missing a bassist though, so I thought I would pick it up and try it out. Obviously, I wasn’t good enough to start writing bass lines and sing, so we enlisted an old friend, Ross Burrows from Mesa. We finally started a band we all somewhat wanted play in, but after seven months of hitting the grind, and me filming the Twilight Saga in between, I had to leave indefinitely to focus on acting. Both acting and singing are my passions. I won’t ever stop either one.
Here in 2012 you’ve gotten back to the music, as Nature Baby — how did that come about?
I got into the studio with producer and engineer Daniel Grimmet, at Uranus Recording of Tempe. Grimmet brought on board this really cool and talented drummer, Mark Eckert from their hometown in North Carolina. I brought Luke on to write the guitar and bass and Luke got our buddy Alex Chacon to record the guitars for me — thus creating “Taking Back My Summer”. Nature Baby’s first song.
Why did you choose the name Nature Baby?
I was in a cave with some friends on a mountain and we were running around and jumping on boulders. I took a giant leap and almost missed the ledge of a cliff and I said, “No one else should do that or you’ll die!” But that didn’t stop them. Since then, they started calling me Nature Baby, and they were the creatures, ’cause I’m really into nature. So the moniker stuck.
What are your influences — whose music do you really like, and who would you say you sound like?
I love music that makes me feel something, anything. Isn’t that the point? I do what I do because of bands like Circa Survive, Underoath, Brand New, Taking Back Sunday, Cursive, The Used, Stray From The Path, Thursday, At The Drive-in, GlassJaw, The Beatles, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Dance Gavin Dance, Senses Fail, The Blood Brothers, Chiodos, Bring Me The Horizon, Blink 182, A Lot Like Birds and Letlive. I guess I would say I sound like a mixture of all of that. More or less.
What’s the vibe or story of “Taking Back My Summer”?
The story is about a relationship between two people, speculating and reminiscing. Remembering a time when love was all that mattered but everything changed and you lost it. It goes through all the emotions. I just want people to listen, if they like it that’s great and if they don’t then that’s their problem.
Do you have other tunes you’re working on, and do you plan on putting out an album? Do you play gigs?
I’m always working on new tunes. I plan on having an EP out in the future, no set date though. No gigs yet. The line-up isn’t finalized and not enough songs are together.
What sort of response to your musical career have you gotten from Twilight fans?
My fans support me in whatever I do. Some of them actually love “Taking Back My Summer”. I was at a Q-and-A the other week and I was asked to sing a capella. I sang Bjork’s “Unraveled” and I got a tweet from the person saying I made them person cry. I really flattered. I got the strangest feeling from reading that.
Your followers may have seen a lot of tweets about a band called Touché. What’s that?
I was a founding member of Touché. I used to sing in the band. They’re still my best friends.
What’s happening for you on the acting front? One film we’ve been hearing about is The Lesser Blessed — can you give us some scoop on that film and the character you play?
The Lesser Blessed is based off the novel by Richard Van Camp and adapted to film by Anita Doran. It’s a story centered on a First Nations teenager named Larry Sole, played by Joel Evans, who is trying to find his place in the modern world. I come in and show Larry the way. It’s set in the Northwest Territories and we filmed in Sudbury, Ontario. I play Johnny, he’s a bad boy. Johnny likes to get into scuffles and hook up with chicks. Johnny also likes to eat cheeseburgers and smoke cigarettes, but it’s Johnny’s responsibility to take care of his little brother Donny because his mom is an escort and his dad doesn’t live with them. Johnny is pretty screwed up in the head.
There will be a final Twilight movie in the fall. How does it feel to be at the end of that run?
It’s bittersweet. I’m ready to move on and start new projects. Both in film and musically.
There’s a lot of other stuff on your IMDB page… The Projectionist… Killing Games… a few releases dated 2013… what’s coming up first?
A lot are just rumors. I have a bit part in The Projectionist, starring Russ Russo, where I play a POW in Russ’s flashbacks.
Ok, we won’t ask you to comment on the rumors, but what sort of roles are you getting — are you playing Native characters every time?
So far I’ve played Native but I want to transcend beyond that, when the character comes along — nobody wants to be typecast.