Sid Batham - Balancing Life and Art
It's tough to tie him down to one specific genre. When I reached out to Sid for his take, the reply was "normally Spotify and iTunes say Soul, RnB". His elusive response displays the fact that he is clear not to self label his music's intent. This trait also comes across in his songwriting and production.
With various inspirations and the ability to write across various styles, Sid prefers to remain borderless and devoid of boundaries...as music should be if you ask me. Although he recalls his very first production as being over the top, Sid's approach has been fine tuned and stripped down to only the essentials to convey the feeling needed (See/Hear: Feels).
What is the most surprising feedback you have received on one of your songs?
Getting told I sound like George Michael.
What was the first song you heard that made you say “I want to be a part of music”?
Where were you when you heard it? Definitely a Prince track, something off of Purple Rain - can’t remember which it would have been. But I was definitely just at home have a sift through all my Mum’s records.
How has London had an effect on your creativity?
London is full, full of people who are all in the same boat. It makes the whole process that little bit less lonely I guess. Because it can be that at times.
Describe London’s soul music scene at the moment.
Everyone’s got soul here, there’s an excess of it. Means you’ve gotta be extra funky to make a stamp.
Tell us a bit about Olympia Records. How did that relationship form?
Met Lauren from Olympia at a gig I was playing and we immediately saw eye to eye on a bunch of things. Started up working together almost straight away and she’s a legend. Very hard working and committed to the cause!
What was your initial pre-production setup (equipment)? How does it compare to your pre-production setup now? Any changes?
Most artists tend to have power struggles when it comes to creative control with their label. Does Olympia give you the creative space you need to work?
They absolutely do, I sort of plug away and throw records that way and she gets fully involved. She’ll really give me insight into which ones she feels are most likely to do well commercially. Which doesn’t always mean they’re the best ones. We’re sitting on some gems at the moment.
It’s not changed a great deal, other than I was a Pro-Tools guy but a couple of years back I made the swap over to Logic Pro. Excuse the pun; but it’s just more logical. Especially if you’re like me and need to avoid the nitty-gritty when you’re writing something. I like the process to be fast and responsive.
Let’s talk process for a moment. How important is your gear selection?
My gear selection at my end of the process isn’t overly important to me. I need a good guitar and a quick responsive rig. Hence - Logic. Further down the line, Rob Brinkmann (producer who I work with) and I often try to make sure all our main synth parts get replaced with proper analogue. We’re trying to keep a split of real instrumentation and electronic elements. That’s about the only thing I’m strict on.
What comes first, melody or lyrics?
When writing tracks what is the process there...melody or beats first?
Often chords and a melody, then straight in on a beat - everything comes from there.
What sound do you love?
Dave Smith Prophet.
What plug-in, sound(s), or sample pack can’t you live without?
My Guitar and a bit of Valhalla Reverb
What’s your method to maintaining your output and creating as often as you do? Do you create on a daily basis?
Not really no, I tend to take breaks from writing to catch up on masses that I have written. I find I write better when I’ve not got loads waiting in the wings to be finished.
What is the most time you’ve spent writing (or re-writing) a piece?
Maybe like 6 months? Tough one
When it comes to post-production, are you hands on at this stage or do you prefer to give the engineer free reigns?
Free reigns, but that depends on trust I guess. Rob understands the vibe we’re going for fully - so we tend to work together right up until the end point on tracks then I let them go. It helps to do this if you want to really hear the finished track with fresh ears as well.
When you are not writing, what are you doing? How do you manage to balance life and art?
Being a Dad, working - it all takes up a lot of time but you’ve just got to stay committed and focused which is never a chore because it’s what I want to do.
Outside of music, what inspires you? I’m really into films, we often have a film that we use as reference for specific track we’re working on. (We) had Tim Burton’s original Batman on the other day in the studio.
If you could go back in time, what would you say to the 16 year old version of yourself?
Don’t be a doughnut all your life Sid
Let’s talk artists for a second. Who are your top three wishlist artists (artists you would like to work with)?
I’d love to sing with Lianne La Havas, (and also) do something with A.K Paul and Childish Gambino.
Are you producing or writing for any artists at the moment (or in the near future)?
All in the pipeline, but there’s some stuff there for sure.
That recurring dream you have...what is it about?
The next tune