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Working For the Weekend: With Nathan Navetto of Float House and Atomis

By Jessica Brodeur
Photo: Jessica Brodeur

Photo: Jessica Brodeur

VANCOUVER — Judging by the outside appearance and trendy West 4th neighbourhood, one might pass by Float House Kitsilano all too quickly and mistake it for a spa or yoga studio. Upon further inspection, instead of massage beds or a hardwood studio, the business is set up with a row of small, self-contained rooms and faintly smells like a swimming pool. In each room is a body-sized tank, not unlike a cryogenic tube from Futurama. Instead of a thousand-year freeze, imagine a silent, dark, temperate, enclosed, 90-minute long saline bath that allows for weightless floating and sensory deprivation akin to a gentle hallucination of drifting through space. Facilitating personal experiences like this is the passion of Nathan Navetto. You can most likely find Nathan tinkering with salt levels and temperatures of each Float House tank, or alternatively with instrument levels and drum beats in his band Atomis. In the tea lounge of Float House, he shares some of his passions, both loud and quiet, with BeatRoute.

BeatRoute: How long have you been working here?

Nathan Navetto: Pretty much since its inception. 

BR: Were you part of the planning?

NN: Nope. I found out about it seven or eight years ago, I was reading a lot of John C. Lilly. One thing that he’s been talking about in his research is sensory deprivation. I’d wanted to try this for a very long time, but the thought of getting into someone’s tank in their basement or something like that just kind of weirded me out. Right before moving to Vancouver from Calgary, basically I was walking down the street and was like ‘Woah, that’s strange… a float centre. Is that actually what I think it is?’ and when I came in they had just opened and so I was blown away, and was like ‘this is what I’m going to do!’ I came from Calgary, lost a lot of clients… definitely a different time of my life for sure. For me there was this feeling that I need to do something else that I’m passionate about when I move to Vancouver, and there was absolutely no other option for me [than working at Float House.] I got involved and a few months from then I got involved working for the tanks. Float house ties in with my music directly, and it’s taken me a bit of time to realize that, to see how it’s the same thing.

BR: What’s been the best thing about working here?

NN: I think the reason this ties into music is wanting to usher people into a new experience, their own experience. It’s personal. Music is a creative way to release something into the world and you kind of see how it affects people. How it influences people’s thoughts or they feel certain emotions from it. That’s what the tank is as well. We are offering these services, offering these types of experiences that are very personal experiences that people have in their own time.

BR: Do you think that floats benefit musicians differently than they would benefit artists or other people?

NN: Definitely. I think that athletes benefit from recovery, they do this physical exertion of energy and get in the tank and heal themselves physically. Whereas, creative types can get into this space or come into this void space and have creative insights. It’s a creative womb in a sense.

BR: Are you working on any new music right now?

NN: It’s been a weird couple of years, moving out here. Basically, currently the band I’m in is Atomis. It’s experimental, mostly instrumental but also sometimes not. That’s been this ongoing struggle over the last number of years but we’re starting to see a lot of things. A couple of years ago we were doing recording and mixing with David Bottrill, who’s done Tool, Smashing Pumpkins, King Crimson, Muse… we raised a bunch of money for six or seven thousand dollars. When that happened we had a band member leave, a band member have a baby and we had me moving to a new city… so it just completely threw everything off and there was this bizarre sense that all of us had to keep doing this. I don’t know why, it feels magical. It feels like there’s a weird push behind it that isn’t us.

Atomis will be releasing their debut album in Spring 2015, check for details.

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