Just before talking to Free Times, Nordista Freeze is stuck at a dentist’s office. He sends a selfie showing his shock of blonde curls pulled back to accommodate a dental bib, a cocked, closed-lip smile on his face.
Once available, he answers the call from a complete stranger with an enthusiastic, “Yoooooo! What’s up, Cam?”
“I just got a tooth pulled,” he disclaims in a surprisingly chipper tone. “So now my day can only get better from here.”
Freeze’s disarming amiability and lack of pretension in conversation embodies his ethos as a musician. The soon-to-be-23-year-old Nashville native’s Instagram bio simply reads, “i wanna be yr friend.” His relentless, entirely self-booked touring schedule puts him in front of an audience roughly 130 times a year, giving him ample chances to hook new fans through his infectious brand of kinetic psych-pop histrionics.
“Touring is my favorite thing in the world,” he states. “I want to get out to all these cities, and then, pretty soon, I want to be back. I want to stay in touch with everyone.”
Freeze does everything he can to back up that desire to stay connected with the people he meets while touring. His current run of 10 dates sees him crisscrossing the Southeast, hitting Columbia for the second time in just over four months and Charleston less than four weeks after last playing there. He notices a compounding effect the more he plays, as the shows get better and the crowds bigger with each visit, including in his hometown.
“When we throw shows in Nashville, people come from all around,” he beams. “It’s kind of unfathomable.”
At a packed July 4 show at the city’s Cambria Hotel rooftop, Freeze notes people from at least 12 different cities told him they traveled for the event, including multiple points within the Carolinas. A YouTube video from that night shows the band soar into the then-unreleased single, “Wysteria,” with Freeze visibly surprised by the full-throated crowd participation, since they had only played the song live on the road at that point.
“Everybody was singing along and we haven’t even put it out yet,” he recalls. “I was shocked.”
The August release of “Wysteria” marked the first new music he’s put into the world since 2017’s full-length, Cosmic Haus. The rambling, bouncy numbers on that record establish Freeze’s voice as an observational poet in the vein of Lou Reed or Jonathan Richman. “Wysteria,” though, shows him relying less on propulsive instrumentals and scattershot lyrics, instead accenting a languid, beachfront waltz groove with layers of gorgeous stacked vocal harmonies that would make Brian Wilson proud.
“I really wanted to establish a different way of singing and talking,” says Freeze of the new single. “The whole track being to tape and all the instruments are playing a very minimal amount.
“Our shows are so crazy and high energy, I thought it would be fun to put out the first song of the new album being very, very slow and chilled out. Kind of make a statement with it.”
Freeze’s performances bolster the statement he’s trying to make musically through his unbridled, verging-on-unhinged stage presence. Though he writes mostly on guitar or keys, he plays the role of a true frontman live, allowing him more freedom to engage the crowd and letting his band — a rotating cast of trusted friends known as the West Nashville Sports League — cut loose however they see fit.
Without an instrument in his hands, Freeze finds any moment he can to break the unspoken barrier between performer and audience, often going vertical in the process. Video from August’s Everybody’s Got Nipples festival in Charleston shows Freeze scaling a 10-foot wall during his set, flinging himself down into a sea of open arms that surf him back to the stage with glee.
“I put my life in the hands of those people,” he laughs. “I feel like that was just me being like, ‘Okay, you guys got me, I hope.’ And they came through. When I asked them to, they did. Then, it just got even crazier.”
For him, instances like that are the pinnacle of the connection he seeks so rabidly through his craft.
“The energy in the room just changes when we all rely on each other and create a cool moment like that.”
What: Nordista Freeze
Where: The Space Hall (Tapp’s Arts Center), 1644 Main St
When: Friday, Sept. 13, 8:30 p.m.
With: Cry Baby, John Bias and the Simplicity
More: 803-617-8609, tappsartscenter.com