Speaking with singer/songwriter and musician Lauren Bateman I discovered that she was an archeologist who dug in Pompeii, Belize and China and that she graduated from Boston University with a degree in Archaeology and Biology. What then made her turn to music?
Art Life: You quit your day job to live the life of art and music. How did you do this and why?
Lauren: Let’s start with the reason why. When I was 16, I was diagnosed with Hodgekin’s Lymphoma. That’s pretty scary when you are 16 years old. But I learned at a very young age, usually when you think you are indestructible, that life is pretty short. Since then, I like embracing every day and living it like it is your last. Unfortunately, working a day job and then sitting in traffic were not the ideal situations for me and my adventurist spirit.
I decided I needed a vacation and I went on this great cruise called Cayamo. I got to meet one of my idols, Brandi Carlile, and play blackjack with her. It was fantastic. I got to go on stage and play the acoustic for the lead singer of Collective Soul, Ed Rolands, and I performed in the little lounges on the ship in my spare time. When I got back to my job, I decided there was no way I could take much more of living my life the way I was. I loved music and I wanted to do it every day.
So I decided to join a music careers program online and started my own guitar and voice teaching business. At the age of 27, I recorded my first album and quit my job. It was fantastic. I had never felt so free. It’s great! If I want to sit and write music for a few hours or even the whole day, I’m able to do that.
Art Life: Writing songs can be daunting to some can you provide some tips on how to keep inspired and productive?
Lauren: I get a lot of inspiration from every day life. It’s funny, I might not write a song for a few weeks or even a month or two and then I get an avalanche of ideas and write 4 or 5 songs in a day. The best thing to do is to look to your life, your friend’s lives, the news, Facebook, movies, etc. You never know when something will spark your interest and motivate you to get writing.
I usually start with the music and melody first, but sometimes just brain storming ideas of what you want to write about is a great start. What’s a story you want to tell? Is there a moral to the song? Is there a happy or twist ending? Sometimes playing with lyrical rhyming can be fun. The best thing to do is to keep your creative juices flowing even if you are not writing a song. Sometimes it’s crap, sometimes it’s great, but practice makes perfect.
Art Life: How do you get ready for a performance?
Lauren: Before performances, if I am with my band, we will rehearse our set going over the little details like the order of the songs, different dynamic changes, will we make this song slightly different from the CD, etc. A lot of people concentrate on the songs when they are performing and it’s really not about that live. Think about why you go and see a performance. It’s the experience. It’s about giving people a great performance.
So do not think because you wrote a song that it HAS TO be performed that same way every time. Think of ways you can switch things up, for example, playing a different instrument. I am not an amazing drummer or lead guitar player, but there are times on stage when I will play drums, hand my guitar off to someone else to play or pick up an electric and rock out with the guys. People like when you do those things, it makes the show fun and entertaining.
Other than that, a little vocal warm up before the show and we are rocking and rolling. I do not really get nervous any more so there is not a lot of psyching myself up for things.
Art Life: Are there other musicians and artists that inspire your creativity?
Lauren: Oh absolutely. One of my biggest influences is Brandi Carlile. I love the way that woman plays guitar and she is a great songwriter. Her dynamics and stage presence have really made me sit back and analyze my writing and performance. I am also a big Pat Benatar and Melissa Etheridge fan. I get a rock element from those artists. I also like Sheryl Crow, U2 and Natalie Merchant. Great songs. I will even be listening to classical music sometimes and you will here this cool rhythm in the background on the violin or the drums and you go, “Wow, that was really cool”. Then you go home and try to write a song that imitates that.
Art Life: Your last album was titled “I’ve Been Waiting” and your soon to be released album is “Here I Am”. There seems to be a message here?
Lauren: Yeah, there definitely is a little bit of a message. “I’ve Been Waiting” was kind of the, alright, I made it, I’m totally doing this after so many years kind of thing. Some of the songs on that album were written years before they were ever recorded. I think I had secretly always dreamed of recording my own music but never really believed it until that album was done.
“Here I Am” I feel is more of who I am as an artist today. Even though it has only been a couple of years, I have really grown so much in my playing and writing. It’s almost like it was not the same person. I am really proud of this album. I was proud of the first one, but I always felt it could be so much better and I feel this album is everything I was hoping to do with the first album. So I wanted to let people know, “Here I am. This is the real Lauren Bateman and she is ready for prime time.”
Art Life: How does “life” and “art” relate for you?
For me, life is art. Life is the expression of who you are and what moves you. That can be many different things for different people, but for me, art is what moves me and makes me feel alive. I do not know what my life would be like without the art of music. But I think that even if you are not musically inclined, music will always find a way to touch you at some point in your life. It could be a song that brings you back to high school or a song that reminds you of an old friend or lover. Art has a way of touching the soul in ways we can not comprehend and I am so excited to be a part of that.
Art Life: Thank you!
For more information visit Lauren Bateman
Her CD “Here I Am” will be released Saturday May 5th 8 PM at Sally O’Briens of Somerville, MA