SF State Music alum collaborates, tours with André 3000 on guitar

Author: Matt Itelson
March 11, 2024
Nate Mercereau seated outdoors in the Marin Headlands holding a guitar
Photo Credit: Minnea Bisset

Multi-instrumentalist Nate Mercereau has collaborated with pop stars like Lizzo, Shawn Mendes, The Weeknd 

When hip-hop legend and actor André “3000” Benjamin released an album by surprise last fall, he was not the only multi-hyphenate involved. San Francisco State University alumnus Nate Mercereau is a member of the nine-time Grammy winner’s ensemble on the album, “New Blue Sun,” and on tour.  

Mercereau (B.Music, ’10) is in a different universe of guitarists. He uses an electric guitar, a guitar synthesizer and a Midi-guitar.  

“He hardly ever sounds like he’s playing guitar, but he’s an awesome guitarist,” Benjamin, of the hip-hop group OutKast, told National Public Radio. “He’s kind of like a magician in a way.” 

On stage, Mercereau samples the band’s live performance by hand, using Abelton software uses foot pedals to record a loop of sound, creating an in-the-moment composition. This improvisational technique creates a new sound with every note.  

“I have a microphone going directly into the sampler, and I also plug my own guitar into the sampler,” Mercereau says. “I’m either sampling the sound of the group live with me, or I’m sampling myself live. ... The sample becomes my ‘instrument,’ pitched all up and down the fretboard.” 

Mercereau’s magic is not just on guitar. He plays up to a dozen instruments on songs he has co-written for Lizzo, Shawn Mendes and Leon Bridges. Drums, piano, violin, French horn, glockenspiel, you name it.  

Mercereau’s own recordings are more exploratory, describing them as exploratory, “music with a sense of discovery and “a searching quality.” In 2021 he garnered national press for an album of “duets” pairing his guitar work with the wind-blown hum of the Golden Gate Bridge.  

Read the full story on SF State News.