Interview - Dean Batten

Often genre-bending, Dean Batten's music is mostly one thing: captivating. His new single "Would You Like to Come In?" is a finger-picked ballad about drug visions, nightmares and falling in love. This new song, like all of Dean's output, touches the shared humanity in all of us.

- Hi Dean and welcome to this interview. Tell us about your latest release Would you like to come in?
Hey, y'all! "Would You Like to Come In?" is the first song from a big batch of work I've been quietly creating since I finished writing my last album "Aries". I found myself being drawn back to the sort of folk/folk-rock thing I grew up on. Starting with Dylan and CSNY, I strayed off into Gillian Welch and Townes Van Zandt and things like that. I used to write a lot of that kind of music in high school and hopefully none of it will ever see the light of day.
That return in my listening habits affected my writing, as with many musicians, and I started doing the more stripped, simple-chords thing again but with what feels to me like a more mature angle and lens. "Would You Like to Come In?" showed up in about twenty minutes, top to bottom. It's sort of a loose composite image of a related series of emotions. It ranges from a vision of Divine Love to a nightmare of a memory of a car crash I witnessed as a child, to waking up from that memory with my throat closed off by an allergic reaction then seeing my girlfriend sleeping next to me and calming down.

- How would you describe your sound?
If I had to describe my sound in a single phrase, it'd probably be "2000's Kid Townes Van Zandt with jazz-chords, sometimes through a fuzz pedal." I pride myself a little bit on the variety of genre hallmarks I incorporate but don't ever really think about it too hard when creating the songs themselves. I usually just call my stuff "folk-rock" or "Americana" and leave it to the listeners to be surprised by how shoegaze-y or progressive it can get sometimes.

- What do you write about?
The topics range about as much as the style does and the lens moves around from phase-to-phase of my life. I've been writing for twelve years already and I'm only twenty-five, so there's been a lot. I used to write about girls and love and daily life small things a lot. I used to write about imagined scenarios that were more interesting than where I was at the time. At some point I started to move away from old friends and scenes and started actually doing the kind of things I would sit around imagining. "Aries" was largely about fighting through suicidal ideation and serious depression/depersonalization. I'm post-that now and my songs are becoming more and more about other people and the things I've been around to witness or do myself.

- What do you listen to when you are home?
Depending on the day and my mood, I may listen to my friends' music like Others (from LA), nol (from Daytona Beach), Matthew Fowler (from friggin' everywhere it seems), dullhaus (from SoCal), or Elonzo Wesley (North Carolina). Lately I've been listening to my girlfriend Alexis Joiner's new album "Angel Energy", it kicks ass. A lot of classic/60s/early 70s rock and folk when I ride my motorcycle. Brahms and Chopin if I'm writing prose or poetry.

What's your favourite live performance so far?
My favorite live performance so far was either playing the Troubadour in Nov. '19 or in Charlotte this last short tour with Alexis Joiner, Oct. 18 '21. That was a great night with Alexis, myself, Breeze Cable and Council Ring all doing pretty well on stage.

- Tell us a funny story that happened in studio or on stage
One time, when my friend Chris was helping me record some abstract stuff for the beginning of “B”, my dog Roxie kept walking through the living room where we were recording and you can actually hear her little dog nails clicking on the tile in the recording.

- Your favourite albums?
My favorite albums are probably these five, in no particular order:
Highway 61 Revisited by Bob Dylan, Time (The Revelator) by Gillian Welch, John Prine by John Prine, Siamese Dream by Smashing Pumpkins and Grace by Jeff Buckley. Also literally everything Elliott Smith ever recorded gets a high rating from me

- A musician you would like to meet for a beer?
I’d like to hang out with Sturgill Simpson. I feel like it’d be a really good conversation, I want to hear stories about his time in the rail yards.

- What would you ask backstage if you were the most important band on earth?
I don’t ask for much backstage now and I don’t think that’ll change, maybe a little Redbull and some water. Snacks? Like, maybe a tuna sandwich?

- What are your plans for the next future?
I’ve got another song coming out November 11 called “Let ‘Em Bleed”, the next song in this new stylistic batch I’ve been cooking up. It’s thematically similar to “Would You Like to Come In?” but incorporates more textures and is a bit more layered. I’m going to drop a new single each month for the foreseeable future and get out and tour as much as possible. Merch, a limited run of CDs with “Would You Like to Come In?”, “Let ‘Em Bleed” and two other currently unreleased songs on them. Just trying to get out and do the work, do the laps, you know?

Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

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