Following in the footsteps of musical heroes like Marvin Gaye and Donny Hathaway, singer/songwriter Chris Batson is an artist with something very personal to say. He has been described as “alternative R&B” and that suits him just fine. “I think my music has something different, with a twist to it,” says the 22-year-old. “You can say whatever you want, in a sense. I’ve never been much of an uptempo artist, so to speak. A lot of my stuff is very introspective and based on experiences that I’ve been through.”
“Always have a backup plan, but do what you love.”
Batson’s ambient soundscapes and arresting beats caught the ears of talent scouts at Nettwerk Music Group when they heard select tracks from his indie EP We Got Lost Along the Way in early 2013. One of the tracks “Never Coming Back”—a collaboration with hip-hop artist Khleo Thomas—reached over 400,000 views its first week on YouTube. “Things were going well with this and a couple people picked up on it. Nettwerk was one of them,” says Batson. “They were so excited about the music. That was really interesting to me because when people are excited about your music at that level, then you’ve gotta go with them. They seem to understand you the most. I treat my art as sacred. They understood the vision and path I wanted to go down.”
One of the biggest advantages of working with a major label like Nettwerk, according to Batson, is the fact that he is able to maintain his artistic credibility and continue with the career track he and his management have laid out together. “Nettwerk has given me a lot of creative control,” explains the neo-soul man. “There’s not so much politics involved. And at the end of the day people are just excited about the music. It’s not so much about radio hits, as about releasing powerful music that is gonna make a difference.” Currently the video for his song “Wintertime” is getting a strong push, with touring and completion of a new full-length release in 2014 being a priority.
“Always have a backup plan, but do what you love,” advises Batson. “Focus on what is important to you. Don’t listen to what other people say. Just play what you feel.”
– Eric A. Harabadian