Blog 3: Battlefield Single Release
By Shobhita, Ensemble's Young Music Reporter.
"What would I do if I wound up in the midst of a battlefield? Am I the kind of person who would run away, or would I take a step forward, whatever the odds?" We have all asked ourselves these questions at some point in our lives. 'Battlefield', a song from Ensemble's debut album, wrestles with these ideas. Created by young person Andrew Sinclair, with the aid of professional musicians Louise McCraw (Goodnight Louisa) and Jamie Scott (Japanese War Effort, CARBS, Conquering Animal Sound), Battlefield narrates Andrew's experience of coming to Ensemble for the first time. The song explores how daunting it was going into the unknown, not knowing what he would find and plucking up the courage to step outside his comfort zone. He talks honestly about what it's like to try something new, how you build a wall inside your head to try and stop yourself where you are, but also how you can approach the wall as an opportunity that just needs to be climbed.
Apart from the strong message that it delivers, Battlefield is, simply put, just a banging tune. Many agree, including BBC Radio Scotland's Roddy Hart, who premiered the song on The Roddy Hart Show prior to its release on 26 March 2021. The song leaves you encouraged, pumped up and yearning for a thrill. Battlefield is given a new dimension by vocals and production by Louise and Jamie. It is the unique contributions of Louise, Jamie, and Andrew that breathes life into the song. What else is there left for me to say? Adventure is calling, and sometimes the door to adventure looks strikingly similar to a wall.
In your own words, can you tell us what Battlefield is about?
Andrew: To me, this song is about when I joined Ensemble. Going to the first songwriting workshop was scary, taking a risk, going into the unknown. But I just had to get that courage up and go for it. The song is about the wall I put up, the voice in my head that talks me out of doing something. The wall can seem like something stopping you, but it's actually an opportunity. You've just got to climb that wall and see what's behind it and hope for a happy ending like I got with Ensemble. I was homeless at the time, but I found that place to call home. I feel like it's a song for people who feel like an outsider- a song for the outcasts, by other outcasts.
What are some of the things you enjoyed the most about the songwriting process? How did you feel working on it with Louise and Jamie?
Andrew: Writing the song, I remember I had lyrics stored in the notes on my phone. The top one was 'silhouette against the moon', and we started with that. Each night after Ensemble, I couldn't get to sleep as I kept coming up with new ideas. Working with Louise and Jamie was really relaxed. They put you first; you have the final say. When I heard the finished backing track for the first time, it blew me away. I thought they smashed it out the park and got the point across. They really know what they're doing musically. On the track, I play an instrument from the 80s called the omnichord. It's the first instrument I've ever learned to play. When I performed the song live at our concert at St Luke's, I was ecstatic. I felt like a celebrity. The good thing is that song is going to be there forever. It will outlive me and my kids and grandkids if I have any. I still don't know how I got here and managed to do it. I feel proud of myself.
Is there anything you have learnt about yourself whilst taking part in Ensemble?
Andrew: Before Ensemble, I used to think being a social worker or carer was not for me at all because I thought, "I don't care". To me, life had always been like a game of poker, you're dealt your hand, and you keep yourself to yourself and keep your poker face on. But with Ensemble, it made me realise I do care and I do like helping people. Even if I can't resolve an issue, I can at least try to help someone. It's made me feel that I'd actually love to be a social worker.
What sort of things have you been up to since working on Battlefield?
Andrew: Ensemble inspired me to go to college to study sound production. With one of my Wheatley Care keyworkers, Drew, I pitched an idea to Wheatley Group's 'The Lens' to do a similar music project in Stirling and won £5000 in funding. I want as many other people as possible to have the opportunity to get involved in music and recording and have a positive experience like I did with Ensemble. I don't care who you are; anyone can do it. I want to take it everywhere I can, to schools and colleges.
Louise and Jamie, what was it like working with Andrew to write the song?
Louise: Working with Andrew was just an incredible experience really, I felt like we clicked right away. He's a really lovely, sweet guy. I learned a lot. I think Andrew actually gave me quite a lot of confidence as I feel like I share some of the same struggles that he faces, although in a different capacity. I felt like we had a similar understanding of each other and just a really lovely human connection. The song is about the anxiety of doing something outside your comfort zone, and that, in a nutshell, is how I also felt going into Ensemble. I was quite nervous as a volunteer initially because I wasn't sure how it was going to go. Were people going to like me? Would they think I was too quiet or not outgoing enough? But it's like a big family, just beautiful. I do feel that Andrew has come on a long way since we wrote Battlefield. I think he's come out of his shell, and I feel immensely proud of him, to be honest. I'm so grateful I could contribute towards him feeling more confident about himself, and I just want him to succeed in life. He's a really great person, and everyone deserves to know that.
Jamie: I think the biggest takeaway for me was the ownership Andrew took with Battlefield. He had a clear idea of what he wanted to say with the song, writing about what enjoyment and advantages attending Ensemble had for him. I think his delivery of that vision, aided brilliantly by Louise, was tremendous. We seemed to see him grow stronger each week he came along, emboldened by his own words. When he joined us on stage for the concert at St Luke's, playing the omnichord on his own song, that was the culmination of all his work at Ensemble. He embraced what Ensemble is. We could see how much he enjoyed it, how much confidence it gave him. And he wrote a brilliant new piece of music. We couldn't have asked Andrew to give any more of himself to the project.
Battlefield is featured on our debut album 'No Place Like It'. Keep your eyes peeled as you are in for a treat with this anthem. And don't be surprised if the song inspires you to try something new that you've maybe had in the back of your mind for a while. Listen to Battlefield and be encouraged to sign up for that new online course, let your paintbrush touch the canvas, go on that hike, say hello to your new neighbour and maybe even come write a new song with us here at Ensemble!