Canadian country artist Karen-Lee Batten is a living example of what it means to put in the work to make your dreams a reality– “As a young adult, she was bouncing between serving jobs, hosting karaoke shows, and performing intermittent gigs when an unwavering sense of purpose pushed her to devote full-time energy to music.” (Batten). Her musical journey then led her to perform on the stage of Canadian Idol, graduating from the show as a Top 10 finalist. Riding on that success, her debut album Every Moment, followed by her sophomore album Cause a Scene in 2014 and her third album, Under the Covers in Muscle Shoals which earned her 7th CCMA award win (Batten). In 2020, the artist was awarded the BCCMA Fan’s Choice Award and her single, “Too Strong”. This year in advance of her anticipated 2021 EP, the Canadian star has released her latest single- “Drinkin’ Song”. Drinkin’ Song is a sassy, empowering song that encourages others to get out there and have a good time with their friends rather than stay at home and dwell in their sadness after a breakup or rough go. Since its release, it’s amassed more than 32K Spotify streams, setting a solid foundation for a new musical chapter for Batten.
Recently I spoke with Batten about her path to pursuing country music, her latest single and her goals for the remainder of the year.
Kyla Pearson: For those who are unfamiliar with your music, can you tell us a bit about your path to pursuing music? What made you want to become an artist?
Karen-Lee Batten: I gravitated towards music at a very young age through my dad, who was a musician himself. As I learned to sing, I got better at it – shocker, haha – and just came to love everything about it!
When I graduated from high school, I was working different jobs and felt the urge to really pursue this as best I could because it was really my passion. I thought I would try out for “Canadian Idol” and when I became a finalist there, it inspired me to keep going and see how far this crazy journey could take me.
What really made me want to become an artist in the first place was being able to sing as a career – which I love – and also sing for other people on stage – which I love even more. The rush from creating music and sharing it with the world – especially in a live setting – is second to none.
Kyla Pearson: Your latest single, ‘Drinkin’ Song”, was co-written by you, Jeff Johnson (Madeline Merlo) and Mitch Merrett (Tyler Joe Miller). It was also produced by Merrett and Johnson (Meghan Patrick). The song is about getting out there, having a drink and a good time instead of being sad over hard times and failed relationships. Can you tell us a bit more about the inspiration behind the song?
Karen-Lee Batten: This was the first song I’ve ever released that was based on one of my past relationships. At this point in my career – and with the right musical team (Jeff and Mitch) – it felt like the right time to put myself out there and create this song.
In putting it together, I didn’t want to dwell too much on the relationship itself and make it into a sad song. There are enough of those! So we took a honkytonk party song approach to it that people and their friends can relate to – both in the immediate aftermath of a bad relationship or years later reflecting on all that has happened since.
Kyla Pearson: The song also helped you celebrate how far you’ve come since the events that inspired the song. What is one thing that you’ve achieved since that you’re most proud of and is worth celebrating?
Karen-Lee Batten: Oh my word, that’s a great question! On a professional level, “Canadian Idol” was thrilling, recording “Under the Covers” in Muscle Shoals was surreal, and winning 7 BCCMA Female Artist of the Year Awards was immensely gratifying.
It would be easy to pick any of those moments, but as an artist, I think we really want to know that our music matters and that what we bring to every song can stand the test of time. That’s why we do this.
So in that context, for me, winning the Fans’ Choice Award last year from the BCCMA reinforced that the fans still believe in what I’m doing and that means more to me than anything else right now. So I’m very proud of that.
So those are some things that are worth celebrating AND pouring a drink to.
Kyla Pearson: Can you tell us a bit about the songwriting/recording process that went into making the song? How did you come up with the hook for the song?
Karen-Lee Batten: We had so much fun writing and recording this song. The writing process is so interesting, you start with a bunch of scratch tracks and a whole lot of laughter (in this one) and eventually, you are ready to walk it into the studio. Where it starts to where it ends up is truly such a cool journey.
In this case, we decided we just wanted the chorus to be the type of song you could grab some beers, or something stronger haha and sit back and laugh a little about a time that was not so funny. A good reminder that time does heal.
Kyla Pearson: What do you hope to achieve with this new single? What do you hope fans will get out of this song?
Karen-Lee Batten: The root message of the song is really about letting go of the past pain but recognizing where it’s taken you. Things really do get better. I want people to hear that in my lyrics and be able to grab that message.
Further to that, I feel like these days, everyone needs a party song and an excuse to hang with friends and have a drink. This is the song to enjoy while doing that and to get people in the mood for good times.
So listen, drink, have a good time, and repeat!
Kyla Pearson: Last month, you also released an official music video for the song. Can you tell us a bit more about the creative inspiration behind the video? What was the filming experience like under covid-restrictions?
Karen-Lee Batten: Well because it’s a “Drinkin’ Song”, we needed to make sure there were friends and drinks involved, so the inspiration started from there! Haha.
We filmed this video with some of my closest girlfriends, which was a dream come true because these are friends I have known for years. So we all had natural chemistry to make it look like we were having a good time because we really were having a good time. As they were already part of my “bubble”, we were able to do it safely and switch between an outdoor location at a friend’s house and a restaurant (that was closed during filming).
Like the song itself, it was a really great time amongst friends with many cheers and I think the positivity of that experience and all the fun we had really comes through in the finished product. Meaghan Gipps – our director – did an amazing job of being able to capture the song and the energy that went into making the video.
Kyla Pearson: “Drinkin’ Song” is also the latest track off of your upcoming EP. Can fans expect another single off the EP before it’s released?
Karen-Lee Batten: You can expect at least one more!
Next up, we will be releasing “Somewhere in Between” in a few short months. It’s a nice departure from both “Too Strong” and “Drinkin’ Song” in theme and style with the same team of Jeff and Mitch producing. We can’t wait for everyone to hear it and take in the entire EP as a complete listening adventure!.
Kyla Pearson: Moving forward in 2021, what is one goal you hope to achieve with your music by the end of the year?
Karen-Lee Batten: In the music industry as a whole (and for all of us collectively as people), 2020 really challenged us as individuals and artists to decide how we could best make a difference with our music and find some kind of artistic fulfilment in a very different world.
With “Too Strong” and “Drinkin’ Song”, I wanted to give people music that can feel relevant to the times – something that can bring both understanding and hopefulness but also give someone some self-reflection and a fun escape.
So my goal with my music this year is to deliver an EP that continues those themes in “new normal” but an equal goal is to get back on stage and perform for people in an “even better normal” in the weeks and months ahead!
Batten, Karen-Lee. Karen Lee Batten – Country Recording Artist – The Official Website of Karen Lee Batten, KLB Entertainment Inc., www.karenleebatten.com. Accessed Jun. 17 2021.
Batten, Karen-Lee. Interview. Conducted by Kyla Pearson, Jun. 17 2021.
Jason, Bennett. “Featured: Canadian country artist Karen-Lee Batten”. Photo courtesy of Jasper Anson. Accessed Jun. 17 2021.
Unknown. Official single art of Karen-Lee Batten’s latest single, ‘Drinkin’ Song’”. Photo courtesy of Jasper Anson. Accessed Jun. 17 2021.