Australian singer-songwriter and composer Nick Batterham returns with his first single of 2021 with the stunning new track ‘No Perfect Man’. Taken from his forthcoming studio album Lovebirds out this April via Cheersquad Records & Tapes, Nick’s new single follows in the hugely successful wake of his most recent body of work, Empire – the exquisite audio/visual collaboration with street artist RONE for his 2019 exhibition and magnum opus of the same name. We had a chat with Nick about his new single, his upcoming album, and his recent run of shows in Melbourne.
Hey Nick, congratulations on the release of your new single ‘No Perfect Man’! Can you give us a bit of an insight into this track?
Thank you! It feels great to have new material out in the world. The song reflects upon the sometimes unrealistic expectations we have of one another. It also describes the friction between what we are and what we aspire to be. Like every song, I hope it can mean different things to different people.
You released a film clip for the single too, teaming up with local director, Ursula Woods. Tell us about the making of the video and the themes behind it.
Just after the lockdown in Melbourne I was fortunate to get to escape to Ursula’s amazing place in Tasmania, her Instagram is like she’s living in heaven. The clip was an excuse to visit, as I’ve wanted to for ages. I hoped the clip might show some personal self-reflection and I trusted Ursula to catch me off guard. I wasn’t comfortable singing to camera but she managed to sneak a glance or two. I wouldn’t have felt so great about it if I’d known how close up she was! The clip is split between a staged performance and the behind the scenes set up for that performance, how we present to the world versus how we see ourselves.
You’re a seasoned artist who has performed in bands such as Blindside, The Earthmen, Cordrazine and most recently, The Bell Streets. Musically, how would you say your solo material compares to the work of these bands – do they ever overlap or bounce off of each other at all, or are they complete separate endeavours to meet different needs?
I guess every band is a reflection of its members. My different projects and albums have represented different periods or phases of my life. I write a lot on my own and it often comes from a similar place thematically, so I really enjoy how collaboration brings out more varied aspects of my writing. Also, sometimes it’s just fun to play noisy guitar with my friends like I did as a younger fellow.
‘No Perfect Man’ is the first taste of your upcoming album Lovebirds and features strings by David Berlin, Zoe Black and Christopher Moore, drums by Ben Wiesner and Cor Anglais by Michael Pisani. How important is having the right team, band mates and feature musicians beside you when recording and putting out an album? And how would you say this influences or shapes the sound you’re making?
In a classic sense of a record being a recording of a performance at one place and time, I think it’s essential to have the right mix of players. My sound has developed hand in hand with my musical friendships over time. Mostly I make music with my friends, so my songs have an imprint of those friends and the sounds we make together. It’s a double score of enjoying their company and loving the sounds they make. The orchestral instruments on this album are all people I’ve met through other projects. I’m very fortunate that such gifted musicians would lend their sounds to my songs.
Musically how would you describe Lovebirds?
I wanted to make a more band sounding record than my last. I’ve also been writing more on piano in recent years, so Lovebirds is centred on piano with a band of bass, drums and electric guitar. We tracked the band together, just before Covid times. I had a very long time to overdub and mix! There’s plenty of strings and orchestral wind and brass to make the romantic feelings as lush as possible. There has been so much unpleasantness in the world, I wanted to make something unashamedly pretty and for its sadness to be beautiful.
Since 2010, you’ve released five solo albums, as well as a compositional album of original classical music for award-winning artist Rone, for his hugely successful Empire project at Burnham Beeches. How did this latest collaboration come about, and what was the experience like fusing the worlds of music and art? How did you approach this?
Gosh, that’s a big question! Rone’s production person knew my work and suggested we meet, it just clicked. I was very fortunate to be able to work with him and it came at the right time for me. I’d just finished my last solo album Golden Boy and was a bit sick of my own voice and words to be honest. Writing classical music was a new challenge for me and it opened me up to fresh ideas. The Empire project was really a sound design job for me, it just happened that classical music was the best sound solution. Rone’s artwork and production design is so beautiful and sad, it really stirs up people’s emotions. Writing for melancholy strings and piano worked well with the feelings he was trying to evoke, a nostalgic yearning for the past, a celebration of beauty in decay. It’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever been a part of. For me it was more like the work I do in film and television than the albums I make, where the music has a role to play.
Any plans for some upcoming live shows now that Melbourne and Australia are slowly opening up again?
We’ve just done a month residency performing as a duo at a bar called P.O.M.E. It’s been so lovely to play to a room full of actual people after a year off! Also, getting to play music with my guitarist and best friend Nick Murray had been sorely missed. We’re working towards doing full band shows in late March, no details just yet.
And finally, when are we hearing more from the album? Can you give us a sneaky taste of what’s coming next?
The next single, called Turbulence, will be out with a new clip in about a month, then the album not far behind.
Thanks so much for your questions.