Recently returning back to us with the recently released LP ‘4’ is the ever so enjoyable Big Black Delta. I was recently able to go through a mini interview of sorts with Johnathan Bates himself, discussing his intricate and unique creative development process for and thoughts behind the LP. After the death of his father, Bates went through a strenuous personal journey of battling his own demons and over coming them. He discarded all of the things he created during the dark times of his life and has now produced an album that is meant to encourage and help lift up those who listen to it rather than perpetuating the cycle of pain and negativity. The creation of the LP itself took about 6 to 7 months, but content wise, the creation of each song itself took anywhere from minutes to hours. Bates told us, “But deciding what it was and how to dress it took wildly different amounts of time. It comes to you, and that’s serendipity. I’ve found over time instinct usually wins, so there’s no real reason to stay on something that doesn’t make you feel good.”

As you listen to this LP, it pulls you through an array of moods and emotions like you’re on an atmospheric rollercoaster. From the hard hitting, haunting, energizing cords of tracks like “Summoner,” to the soft set, calming, wave-like sounds of tracks like “Sunday,” 4 has something for it all. Due to the wide variety of moods that can be found in the LP, we asked Bates if he found it difficult to jump from genre to genre all in the same LP, to which he answered, “It’s not genre jumping to me. They’re my children and they’re their own beings and do what they want. I’m just their dad I feed them and protect them and let them grow and then let them go. I now I sound like a hippie, but oh well you caught me right in the middle of tie-dying my acoustic Taylor guitar strap. Namaste bros.” Being that each song uniquely cultivates its own mood and is derived from certain emotions, as well as creating this LP after such an emotional journey in his life, we also asked Bates which song he felt has the most emotion poured into it and what that emotion was. Bates shared, “l enjoy all of them equally and for different reasons. I can’t just pick one spice, I like a lot of them. As you are a multi faceted, complex being that has their perception changed constantly and daily, i hope I have a song for a few of those moments. If not, fair enough.”

A very interesting fact about Johnathan Bates is that his entire life Bates has had a genetic condition called synesthesia, a condition where one sense is simultaneously perceived by one or more additional senses. This means that rather than simply just hearing sounds and music, he can see them too in bright flashing colors and shapes. Bates shared with us that it’s more than that for him though, even numbers and letters have their colors, people and their moods, and even visually seeing what things taste like. I could only imagine his perspective on and viewing the world through his eyes. It is clear in many of his songs that this condition is a strong influencer on his music, but when asked what other worldly aspects influence his music, Bates responded simply with humility. “Humility is a universal tone in all languages that is for the most part respected. Being of service through sound. Can’t think of a more fun way to be alive.” Additionally, we asked Bates in what could we the people, or even himself, see his life and his challenges reflected in his music. His response of course did not disappoint. “I can’t see the how, as that is personal and relative to each person, but know I’m humbled to be there if It does. No one handed you a manual on you. Take your time. You’re allowed. Just be kind to yourself and others on the way.”

Written by Gabrielle Lasater

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