In the video for Chris Batson's new single, "Windows," the 22-year-old L.A.-based singer/songwriter/producer takes an already emotional song to another level with a concept to which anyone with a heart in their chest can relate.
In an exclusive conversation with BET.com, the man with the sound MTV Buzzworthy called "a dash-of-R&B-tinged-Bon Iver-ish production" spoke about how the "Windows" video concept came about, what inspired him to bear so much of his soul in his music, and how he developed his genre-bending production stylings.
You're billed as a triple threat, what do you consider yourself first and foremost?
I started off producing when I was 11 years old. I bought a program called Fruity Loops, which is one of the major [beat making] programs today, and I started making beats on it and I been doing it ever since. To this day I feel like I'm best at producing, it's my go-to thing. I'm a great writer, but I feel like producing is my bread and butter. It's what I love to do.
You're a man of many genres, what type of music do you like to make aside from R&B?
I do all types of music. Hip hop is what I originally started out doing when I was younger. I sampled a lot of old school records, '70s and '80s records like Marvin Gaye, the Temptations and that kind of stuff. As far as trying newer sounds, I'm a huge fan of EDM. I've been trying to get into that a lot more. I love Zedd and all those DJs that are killing it and I wanna experiment with that sound a little more. Also that folk-rock is something I'm into, like the Lumineers and that kind of stuff. I'd love to venture into that kinda stuff a bit more, but I really touch on everything.
You've developed a reputation for being very personal in your lyrics. When did you decide to throw caution into the wind?
Starting out I feel like I was never really too much of a personal artist. I always wrote or rapped about the common cliché subjects, but at a certain point, life got difficult and life got too tough for me to keep all the frustration and the sadness inside. So I had to really start venting on my songs, and that's when it really became a staple for me ... and do those kinds of things. I just started writing what I feel, and it's worked for me ever since.
When you share those in-depth emotions and experiences, do you notice that fans seemed to be moved by your music more than before?
The other day I was on Instagram and someone had taken a picture of an interview I'd done and the caption was like, "Chris Batson is the most inspirational artist to me and I've been going through so much lately." ... There's a lot of people that have made comments like that, but this one specifically really moved me. There was another one for a song I did in the past called "Never Coming Back," it was a guy who was talking about how he just got out of rehab and how my song really helped him get through to the next day and made him believe that everything was gonna be OK. That's major. It's just an unbelievable feeling to hear things like that.
You did a confessional on YouTube for the "Windows" video. What made you decide to do that?
The confessional was just something to warm people up to the video "Windows" and just get them ready for it. The inspiration for [the song] "Windows" itself was basically just raw emotion and raw feelings. At the time I had just moved to L.A. and I was still getting over my ex. It was just one of those moments where I got in a great writing zone and I got everything across the way I wanted to. I poured my heart into that track and it came across exactly how I wanted it to and it really got my point across. I couldn't have worded it any better as far as how I was writing. It's one of my personal favorites.
And with the video, I don't want to give anything away, but I hear you went in a different direction.
The original song I wrote was based on relationships, but if you watch the video it's a different concept. My management [1916 Management], and the director Chris Smith gave me the treatment and I just thought, "Man this could really be major. This could reach people on a larger scale than just relationships," because if you really look at the video, I'm not gonna give too much away, but when it comes out people are gonna be surprised and people are gonna relate on a completely different level.
BET.com is your #1 source for Black celebrity news, photos, exclusive videos and all the latest in the world of hip hop and R&B music.
Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
(Photo: MIchael Oliveri for Nettwork Music Group)