R&B/Pop artist Spencer Battiest, Seminole Tribe of Florida, has just signed to Hard Rock International Records. Battiest — the first Native signed to HRI — grew up on the Hollywood Seminole Indian Reservation in Florida, where he honed his music talent singing gospel music. He currently resides in Hollywood, CA where he also works as an actor. Battiest once opened at the Hard Rock Calling music festival in London's Hyde Park for The Police and Aerosmith in 2007 in front of a crowd of 100,000. Earlier this year, award-winning Kiowa/Choctaw director Steven Paul Judd collaborated with Battiest for a music video for his popular single, “Love Of My Life.”
What was your reaction upon learning you'd be signed to HRI?
It'd been a long time coming and a dream come true. I first learned about Hard Rock two years ago, and loved the way they developed new artists. They let artists gain national attention and tour all of their Hard Rock Cafes to build their fan base. So I've been working on getting signed with them for awhile while honing my material, and this seemed like the right time.
I'd been working with my friend Brandon Howard who works out of New York, Atlanta, and Los Angeles, but last October I told him I was serious about moving forward with my music career. So he came down to Hollywood (Florida), and we worked out of my brother's home state-of-the-art studio, and also South Beach Studios in Miami Beach.
How was it writing the song for your new own single, "Love of My Life"?
I'm new to the songwriting process, and this is the first song I ever wrote. My brother Zack is a songwriter and amazing talent – he can play about every instrument and is also a producer — and before, I just sang what he wrote. But for the last two years I've been writing in my journal and just learning how to put together words that would create a song within 3 to 4 minutes — it's a process! After I wrote it I was really ready to take it to the next level and present it.
What was it like having Steven Paul Judd direct your video?
Before I was even signed, I put my own money into recording and creating a video. I called up Steven Paul Judd and told him my vision, and told him how this song meant so much to me. We'd worked together in another video, “The Storm,” and he gladly said anytime I was ready he'd do it. We got ahold of my dear friend Shayna Jackson, Dakota/Cree, and I asked her to be in my music video. It's important to me to shine a light on Native people, plus I thought she'd fit perfectly with the love story I was trying to present. My whole goal as an artist is to always elevate other Natives because there's not a lot of us out there in entertainment.
Here's "The Storm," by Zack "Doc" Battiest featuring Spencer Battiest, also directed by Steven Paul Judd: